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Tag Archives: World War II

A History of Trench Warfare

The prevailing image the majority of us have of trench warfare is circa World War I and involves mud-spattered troops carrying rifles and storming over the top of their trench toward an enemy trench yards away. While this is an accurate image of trench warfare at its peak, that particular military tactic did not spring fully formed directly from the dirt from which the trenches were dug. Soldiers have used some form of trench warfare for centuries and continued to use it in limited measure after World War I.

The concept of digging a hole or trench for battlefield protection is not a new one; castle defenses during the Middle Ages regularly employed moats, which are simply circular trenches filled with water. Roman legions would entrench themselves at night in temporary trenches while on the move. Trench and bunker systems were employed more regularly in the mid 19th century during the American Civil War, the Boer War, and others in response to the development of superior rifle and artillery technology. The Boers were especially known for their trenches and individual holes that allowed them to kill many more casualties than they took.

While World War I was not the first time soldiers employed trench warfare, it was the first time it had been used on such a grand scale. Trench warfare itself developed as a response to improving artillery technology, and its wide scale implementation led to several technological and tactical developments. World War I was the first war in which air support was employed, although airplanes served a largely informational role rather than a combative one. Tanks were developed by armies desperate to break the stalemate inevitably caused by the futility of trench warfare. In the end, tanks brought the protected mobility necessary to break the stalemate, but not before trench warfare had come to symbolize the futility and grinding senselessness of war.

The increase in mobility during the decades leading up to World War II led to a decrease in trench warfare, although soldiers still dug trenches for defensive purposes. Many of those in charge of World War II remembered the pestilential and relatively ineffective nature of the trenches and used them only to fortify larger military or natural positions rather than to engage in a grinding battle of attrition. After World War II, trench warfare was used in limited measure in Korea, Vietnam, and the Iran/Iraq Civil War. Modern examples of trench warfare exist primarily in areas under siege wherein trenches are used for transport of weapons and goods as well as general defense.

The rise of mobility led to the fall of the trench, and most modern warfare centers around easy troop and artillery movement. Trench warfare, as brutal and inefficient as it was, led to the rise of surveillance and mobility technology that ushered in a new age of warfare. Modern warfare owes much to those dirty, sodden trenches since they helped establish the use of airplanes and tanks in combat that assisted armies with movement.

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This article was provided by Pro-Tec Equipment, offering trench shoring products.

 

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What Caused the Great Depression

Man is meant to learn from history or risk making the same mistakes, yet there still seems to be no general consensus on what exactly caused The Great Depression – the biggest market crash in history. Many have thrown around the term ‘depression’ to describe the recent financial crisis that has hit the world. The downgrade of credit rating for the United States of America, the Euro Zone Crisis and auxiliary problems are all swirling around the world today, but is it as bad as the Great Economic Depression of the 1930s and if so, why have we not learned from it. While we know for a fact that mitigating factors occurred, yet researchers still haven’t concisely linked them to The Great Depression; which was a big reason for the German rise of extremism which led to World War II. Facts about the Great Depression are measurable; let’s go over what they were.

Black Tuesday

Black Tuesday was a massive stock market crash that occurred on October 29th, 1929. To an economist it is a date of such tragedy that competes even with the sinking of the Titanic. Many however lump the American Great Depression in with Black Tuesday although perhaps the one contributed to the other existing. Two months after Black Tuesday, stockholders had lost $40 billion dollars which is more than the GDP of modern countries that exist even today. There was a slight rebound as things were getting better but it was too little too late and the world entered The Great Depression.

Breaking the Bank

They say you should never trust a banker, but at least we’ve got legal recourse against negligence these days. In the 1930s your savings were uninsured which meant if a bank failed, you lost all your money without compensation – about 9000 banks failed leading up to The Great Depression in America. This lead to less banks being brave enough to hand out loans; which only made things worse since less people were capable of creating expenditure. At the same time economic taxes were put in place to “protect” American companies from competing with European products. The act lead to almost zero imports and international economic retaliation against the States, perfect breeding ground during The Great Depression to drive things further into the dust.

The Dust Bowl

Proving that even Mother Nature steps into the picture to help the downfall of man, the vast amounts of drought that occurred in Mississippi Valley in 1930 caused many to be unable to pay their taxes or generate vital produce. Many farmers who were in debt had to sell their farms at no profit and so The Dust Bowl was born. There were a few other circumstances that bolstered the power of The Great Depression and although it was indeed a time of great depression for many poverty stricken families across the world, we must learn from our mistakes lest we make them again.

Eugene Calvini is a writer and forex market enthusiast; a proud owner of a forex account and a certified Metatrader 4 forex broker, he enjoys sharing interesting economic news.

 

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An Easy Life – Jennie Rasmussen

I almost like to think that I remember being born.  I like to think lots of things.  Mostly I get bothered by people who think they know everything, its irritatin’ to those of us who actually do.  My earliest real memories are of those cold mornings on the farm in Iowa.  The stove would go almost entirely out during the night, til paw got up and stoked the little pot belly in our sleepin’ room.  The flannel nighty pulled up around my neck as far as it would go barely made up for the fact that we was indoors and I could still see my breath.  By the time that sun come up we was thawed out enough to get dressed and start chores.  Only thing got me through the winter was the thoughts of summer and all them damned bugs.  Ain’t nuthin’ worse than sweating like a horse an havin’ a face full of skeeters and gnats.  An that was at night.  Harvest was the worst.  Pickin’ that damn corn till I swore that when I got out of there, there would, “never be an ear of corn in the same room with me again.” At least after the crops was in we got to go to school some.  Reverend Uhlig’s wife set up some desks and chairs in the basement of the church, and when the weather wasn’t too bad my little brother Bobby and I would borrow one of the good horses and go spend hours listening to stories, readin’s from the bible, and doin’ ‘rithmatic on the chalkboard.  Seemed like those years went by like decades.  Nothin’ much changed. There were the irrigation canals in the summer, but the water always melted right off ya and you was dry by the time you started to walk home.  Then you would be sweaty again. No, winter was better that way.  We could always find something to do to get warm, like milkin’ the cows, but there weren’t a damn thing to do in August and September to get cooled down.

We had us some good times tho.  Dad was the best fiddle player in all of Des Moines county; State of Iowa said so at the fair darn near every year (there was that one year that some Yahoo come up from Nashville and took it, but he weren’t no local boy).  There was foot stompin’ and dancing and an occasional sip of that corn whisky the Rasmussens used to brew up every payday.  Us kids never got involved in that much, specially after what we saw it did to the Eckhardt twins.  Mark got skunk drunk once he hitched up his plow and drove smack over the levee into the canal, damn near drowned the horse.  Took all the neighbors, three horses, and half a day to get it out, and the rest of the day to get it straightened out and set up again.

That weren’t the only excitement in Ames, tho.  On Friday nights me an the girls would sneak off with the Rasmussen’s and Eckhardt’s boys and go down to the stock yards to watch the pigs hump.  On a good night we could count ten or twelve of the lucky ones havin’ themselves a time. We left the whisky home, but there was usually a bottle of cider around, and we got just tipsy enough to laugh and joke and somehow pass the time.

I don’t remember those times ending, but damn if I didn’t find myself married to Art Rasmussen, all moved in an fixen’ to have us a family.  That was 1916.  God don’t always play fair.  In 1917, three years after Henry Ford started building cars in Highland Park, the US declared war on Germany.  To most Americans this was a very patriotic time, and the men of Iowa were no exception.  The only  hitch  was that Art and his family came over from Hamburg, and my parents still had kin in Frankfurt.  Actually lots of our friends and neighbors were of German descent. Sometimes these people were singled out for harsh treatment. Some were made to take a loyalty oath or to salute or even kiss the flag.  Schools did not allow their students to study no German. Things with German names got new names. “German measles” became “liberty measles” and “sauerkraut” became “liberty cabbage.”

It was war time, and the nation needed soldiers. Some Iowa men volunteered for patriotic reasons. Because the Army still needed more men, the government required all men between the ages of 18 and 45 to register at the county courthouse.  There would be 115,000 to go over and fight with the British and French, and Art was one of them.  He was shipped out with the 116th infantry division, but he had left behind a present.  I was pregnant.

Iowa was called on to provide corn, and hogs, and cattle for the war effort.  It was all I could do to tend our little “victory garden” and fend for ourselves.  Our first, a son Donald, was born the day after Christmas 1917.  In the fall of 1918, the Spanish Flu took Donald, along with 675,000 other Americans (ten times as many as died in the world war).  It wasn’t long after we buried Donald that Art came home from the war.  He had been one of the lucky ones and still had all his pieces.  That was good ‘cause we figured he’d need them all if we was to try again to start a family.

Judy was born nine months, three days, and two hours later.  We was hoping for another boy, but at this point we take what the good lord gives us; a healthy baby is good.  Gladys was born just about a year later, December 12th 1920.  The girls are bright and active, pretty as a picture, and we are so proud of them.  They play basket ball in high school, and both end up marryin soon after.  Gladys found herself a nice soldier, although when he came back from WWII things weren’t the same and they split up.  Judy married a real smart man, got to be the vice president of a big paper company.  Things was fine for several years, but the thing was, he was also a drunk.  They lived in Chicago, and Texas, had a nice little girl named Jody.  Dick took off after he found out that Judy had MS. There wasn’t much to treat it with back then, and being a drunk, I guess he just figured it was too much bother to watch his wife take 30 years to die.  Jody kep’ in touch with her mom best she could, but they lived in Chicago and she had started a new family of her own.

Gladys found herself a job and moved out to California.  She ended up findin’ herself a good man too, he drank some, but not like Dick.  His name was Francis, but he never did like that and went by the nickname “Buss.”  After they got established good, they sent for us and Art and I took the train out from Iowa.  That was the first time I saw little Stevie, Gladys’s son.

We had some real good years out there.  Art would spend hours and hours tellin’ stories and teachin’ little Stevie about carpentry.  We moved into an apartment complex in the city where Gladys lived, and was the managers in exchange for rent.  Art did all the fixin’, and Stevie helped.  It was a good time, and as pleasant as I can remember.  I wasn’t always happy, and when I was with the girls (Judy had moved out there to be with us) we mostly fought.  It was always little things, but I guess we was just too much alike.  Cats and dogs when we was together, then miss each other when we wasn’t.  We still managed to have some great camping trips and family times until Art had his stroke.  Glady’s husband was real good to us and bought us a house near to theirs.  We lasted there for a few years until it became too much for Art to maintain, and a real miracle had happened.

Next to where Gladys and Buss lived was an English Commodore.  Sir William Barton had just lost his wife, and was very close to Gladys and Buss. He had a nice old house with an extra bedroom and was kinda lonely. We talked a few times and ended up moving in with him right next to my daughter.  We had cut a gate through the back fence, and it was just like we all lived on the farm together for a while.  There were a few years there that were trouble free.  That will be what I remember later in my life as a period of Shangri-la.  We had BBQ’s in the summer time, gin and tonics on the porch, playing croquet on the fancy dichondra lawn Buss put in… the best of times.

It was a couple of years, but all good things came to a quick end. ‘Bout the same time Commodore Barton dropped dead of an aneurysm, Art went into the VA hospital and lasted a few months before he died, and Judy finally had to be put in a rest home for her MS.  I took an apartment downtown San Carlos and a job at a local clothing shop.  Things went on for a few years like that, then the next round.

Gladys’ husband got Alzheimer’s, she got cancer, and Judy got worse with her MS. Stevie graduated from college and came back home to help. Buss died then, and Gladys died a couple of years after that. I was left with one granddaughter in Chicago, a dying daughter in a rest home, and my grandson to take care of me.  He did the best he could, but had his own life and family.  They helped me with my apartment; I think he gave me $500 a month (from the inheritance from his mother) and we all just got by – somehow.  We wasn’t hurting, but we wasn’t rich.  Just minding our own business, getting by.  Stevie and that girl he married would come by and pick me up for dinner once a week. We’d spend holidays together, sometimes at their house (he got a big one when his parents died) and sometimes at my apartment, but always together.

Them people at the social security call me in and give me a “case” worker.  I aint no dam cow, need a “case” worker, but she asks all sort of questions:  how much is my rent, what do I spend on electricity, where is the other money coming from?  I tell her that Stevie helps me some, and we get by.  She tells me that it’s not legal for me to take any money from anybody else while the governments helping me, so to save money she’s gonna have me move out of my apartment into a government subsidized assisted living place that costs them twice as much.  Government nothin’ but a bunch ignert arseholes.

Hell, I don’t know a soul at this big ugly place, and its three cities away from the only kin I got left.  Stevie comes by and takes me out to dinner once a week. ‘Side from that I’m surrounded by dead people. Don’t know why I need to put up with this crap.  All them bossy old ladies playin’ cards and yackin’ away at themselves not saying a damn thing, bunch of dam old men sittin’ around in wheel chairs farting and drooling.  They can’t keep nuthin’ clean.  My back is so bent I’m leaning over like an ant-eater.  I guess it makes it easier to see all the shit all over on the ground.  They call it osteoporoses, but all I know is that my back is crookeder than a dogs hind leg, and this place smells like a big ol lye tank full of horse shit.

I guess I got a bit worked up, and had what they call a minor infarction, whatever the hell that is.  Now I got to go to Stanford and they want to cut me up and put a pig valve in my heart.  For God’s sake why?  I’m 87 years old and getting tired of all this shit anyway.  Just take me out and shoot me like some old dog!

When I wake up my chest is yellow and the room is fuzzy and spinning. There’s sheets on big metal poles around me, and all sort of machines buzzing and clicking.  They have tubes running out my nose and my arms and about everywhere but up my backside.  They tell me they’s taken me to another place to rest up after my surgery, a better place down closer to Stevie and that girl he married and their baby.  We  pull up in a place they call Los Altos, and it’s kind of nice.  They have trees, and grass, and real nurses to help you too.  Ain’t a soul sitting yapping at each other playin’ no cards, or those sick old men in jammies lining the halls.  I get to kind of settle into my own room, and it’s quiet and peaceful.

Days turn into weeks, and week’s months.  Most of the time I sit out by the old oak tree, soak in the sun, and remember.  The people here are good, and kind, and I like it here.  Most of my old friends have long since passed on, Eva Mitchell, Gladys, Buss, Art, Commodore Barton, but there are a few nice nurses, a couple of friendly orderlies, and the old geezer that reminds me of Lawrence Welk.

Its been a while since I’ve seen Stevie; he’s all busy with his new baby and family and I know he does the best he can.  He came over with that girl he married, their baby, a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps, and his buddy Paul.  I remember feeling peaceful, like everything is gonna be OK now.  Stevie even says something about kind of an “aura” around me, like it’s a halo. I’m wonderin how much of that Schnapps he and Paul have been into.  Its Christmas time now and the rest home is all lit up and decorated.  There’s the smell of cinnamon candles, and cookies in the air.  We had just had a good big dinner, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy – my favorites.  It reminds me of the old farm in Ames.

Stevie has always been a good piano player (got the genes from my pa) and they sit down and play all sorts of Christmas songs in the lobby.  They play Silent Night, What Child is This, Away in a Manger, all my favorites.  We all sing along together, though I forget most of the words. A few of the other inmates straggle in one by one and join us.   They put the baby in my lap and I laugh a little and hold it up over my head.  It makes me feel kinda peaceful that I have a great-granddaughter, and that life will go on.  Paul gives me a little snort of the peppermint schnapps – then another.  It reminds me of my daddy, of Frankfurt, and of what a life I have had.  It feels warm, and good, and I’m getting kinda tired now. I think it might be time for me to go home.

And she passed that night in her sleep.

 

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History of Cabo San Lucas

Before Cabo San Lucas was known as the tourist town it is today, the beaches were inhabited by a nomadic Guaycura Amerindian group called Pericu. The Pericú were hunters and gatherers; the shores around Cabo made it easy to live off of shellfish, small game and wild plants. There is also evidence that they were skilled weavers and potters as well.

The Cabo coastline remained untouched by European explorers until 1542, when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Spaniard, made the first contact with the Pericu people while exploring the waters of the Pacific for the Spanish monarchy. The Spanish forces remained because of the threat of English pirates in the area. The harbor at Cabo San Lucas continued to be used by pirates until the mid-18th Century as a hiding place after attacks on Manila Galleons (you can see a ship similar to these in the harbor). The pirates also enjoyed the many coves and inlets, perfect places for stashing loot. After pirating became a thing of the past, the port was mostly ignored because of the lack of fresh water available there.

More activity came to the harbor at the end of the 19th Century. Baja-californianos began exporting bark from the local palo blanco tree, to be processed and used in leather tanning. This made Cabo San Lucas a main shipping port. With the increase of nautical traffic, the Faro Viejo lighthouse was built in 1890 by port authorities at the nearby Cabo Falso.

The abundance of tuna in Cabo was discovered in the early 20th Century, and in 1917 an American tuna cannery was moved from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas to take advantage of this new resource. This brought a new population that continued to grow even as the native population dwindled. By the 1930s, a small fishing village had developed to supply the cannery. The harbor was then occupied by about 400 people, all of whom were involved in the canning industry. This remained the driving force of the local economy until 1941, when a hurricane destroyed a large part of the factory. The damage was devastating and Cabo San Lucas was all but abandoned during World War II, when Japanese submarines patrolled the coast.

After the war, leisure travel became a popular activity and Cabo was rediscovered as a game-fish paradise. Word of mouth brought a sport-fishing craze to the cape in the 1950s and 1960s and Cabo became a hot spot for catching prize-winning marlin and other swordfish. During this time, the small village grew in size to about 1500 residents (not including the many seasonal fishermen that were brought in by plane or boat to fish the cape). The slow but steady pace of growth changed in 1973 when the Transpeninsular Highway was completed. This new link by land between the United States and Cabo San Lucas brought even more traffic to the area. The city soon became a popular destination for people traveling by car and recreational vehicle, in addition to those who already came by boat or plane.

Nowadays, the small fishing village has become a bustling tourist attraction. Cabo San Lucas has increased its numbers and now boasts a population of almost 25,000. The majority of people who call this place home make their living from the tourist industry and most of them are recent arrivals seeking work. Many small shops and boutiques line the streets with souvenirs and handcrafted Cabo clothing. Tour guides are ready to show off the spectacular coastline (and the sights under the water too). Affordable boating adventures and tours await those ready to take to the waves and are a sign that Cabo is no longer an exclusive yacht club just for the upper class sports fishermen.

Great fishing is not the only activity that brings people to the southernmost tip of the Baja peninsula. First class golfing attracts sportsmen of a different kind, while the beaches bring legions of sunbathers each year. Scuba diving is also a popular draw for visitors; the beautiful waters are great for watching exotic, colorful marine life.

Despite deep roots in the past, so richly displayed at the Museo de las Californias, Cabo San Lucas has a distinctly modern feel. It is far enough away from home to be a great getaway, without feeling too foreign.

 

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Texas Supplies Its Own Power

As one of the most rebellious states in the Union, Texas has always walked to the beat of its own drum. Boasting a larger-than-life attitude has given them a reputation for greatness, which was born out of self-reliance when the state became official in 1845. And when they say “Don’t Mess with Texas”, they mean don’t mess with their power supply. Why is that? Because Texas has its own power grid!

It’s amazing to think that an entire state is powered by its own power grid, but even more shocking to know that there are only two other power grids within the whole continental US. The other two are divided into the Eastern Interconnection and Western Interconnection and lace power to several states across the nation. So why is it that Texas got its own grid – and how?

Texas Has the Power
A feature of success for any great business venture has always been “location, location, location”, which contributes heavily in allowing Texas to go off the grid and create its own electricity. Taking this into account, having the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in your backyard is definitely a plus. The majority of residents live within the same region as the ERCOT.  Literally a power house in the state of Texas, the location generates enough juice to supply its own power, leaving the Eastern and Western Connections in the dust.

But the location of the power plant doesn’t weigh as heavy as the history behind the placement of ERCOT. That goes back to World War II when all the factories in Texas were churning out planes and ammunition for the war efforts. At that time, the Texas Interconnected System was created as a reliable way to keep assembly lines in full throttle without depending on distant states. The fact that Texas is rich in natural resources, including coal and gas, also helped to sway the decision even more resolutely.

As a self-contained state of power, Texas has decided not to break down its power supply to interstate customers, which keeps the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at bay. The Lone Star State’s residents are therefore exempt from government regulations on transmission standards and kilowatt prices.  But are they really better off on their own?

Green Energy
For as long as Texas has drawn from its own power, the state is not without turmoil over the decision. The historical event coined “Midnight Connection” occurred in 1976 when a Texas utility plant briefly sent power to Oklahoma. Just recently ERCOT imported power from Mexico in which it has three ties to the country.

With the push for green energy, ERCOT may be under fire with the Environmental Protection Agency for pollution violations. Because ERCOT in its present state was formed in 1970 many of the plants are subject to updates which means they’ll have to go offline during the process. This jolt in distribution could have adverse effects on the state of the grid and force it to rely on ties to the other two grids.
Being self-reliant has its perks and certainly suits the way Texas gets things done. But the future of the grid may be in the balance with the transition to greener energy and cleaner fuel sources.

Syd Martin writes for Premiere Tree Services and enjoys writing articles on green living, environmental issues and nature.

 

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