A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Thursday, June 20, 2019


Yes, sports fans! It's tabclearingday, when the gallimaufrey of tabs accumulating on the TOFian browser gets blown off with short shrift.

1. Quotes of the Day

a) Our [religion] is assuredly the most ridiculous, the most absurd and the most bloody religion which has ever infected this world. Your Majesty will do the human race an eternal service by extirpating this infamous superstition, I do not say among the rabble, who are not worthy of being enlightened and who are apt for every yoke; I say among honest people, among men who think, among those who wish to think.
-- Voltaire, Letter to Friedrich II, k.von Preussen
b) The clergy successfully preached the doctrines of patience and pusillanimity; the active virtues of society were discouraged; and the last remains of military spirit were buried in the cloister: a large portion of public and private wealth was consecrated to the specious demands of charity and devotion; and the soldiers’ pay was lavished on the useless multitudes of both sexes who could only plead the merits of abstinence and chastity.
-- Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ch.38.

And how will the New Republic treat the inferior races? How will it deal with . . . those swarms of black, and brown, and dirty-white, and yellow people, who do not come into the new needs of efficiency? Well, the world is a world, and not a charitable institution, and I take it they will have to go. . . . And the ethical system of these men of the New Republic, the ethical system which will dominate the world state, will be shaped primarily to favor the procreation of what is fine and efficient and beautiful in humanity — beautiful and strong bodies, clear and powerful minds. . . . And the method that nature has followed hitherto in the shaping of the world, whereby weakness was prevented from propagating weakness . . . is death. . . . The men of the New Republic . . . will have an ideal that will make the killing worth the while.
-- H.G. Wells  The New Republic

 Voltaire pointed out that enlightenment was only for the enlightened, like himself; not for the basket of deplorables unworthy rabble. More than a tough of Hegel, there.

Gibbon was evidently a proto-Nietzsche, based on what he praised and what he disparaged. Patience, chastity, charity... Boo. Military spirit, Yay!

Neither of them yet had the vocabulary to evoke the Superman or the Woke. but the thought-cliche of the special aristocracy -- the Enlightened, the Illuminati, the Brights, the Vanguard -- runs through it. As for the rest of us, remember that phrase "apt for every yoke" and bend over to welcome your new masters.  In the end, though, the Morlocks eat the Eloi. (Remember, Wells thought that a bad thing; but I hear they taste like chicken.)

2. Food for Thought
Speaking of chicken. At the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Medieval Academy of America, the Middle Ages were roundly defended from the Dead White Males like Voltaire and Gibbon, who had relegated them to the 'midddle' between the enlightened ancients and the enlightened 18th cent. (i.e., themselves). However, that defense was mounted without a single reference to Christianity, let alone to Catholicism; so it appears the likes of Voltaire and Gibbon have been victorious after all.

But the vanishing of theology from the schools has not led to 'no theology,' but to 'bad theology,' and as Chesterton noted, the man who believes in nothing will eventually believe in anything. Or as Midgley said, those who claim no metaphysics are usually enslaved to some outdated form of it. It is no surprise then that the absence of virtues so derogated by Gibbon -- charity, above all -- has ended with road rage, school shootings, and campus riots against heretical speakers. The surprise rather is that no one has remarked that these things are connected.

3. And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side

An essay on the destructiveness and irrationality of the latest fascination to sweep the intelligentsia, reminding one of the Tiptree story,

4. Intension and Extension

What a term contains differs from what it covers. Siris considers the matter here, using the term "teacher" to show the difference. It might be that much of the current rancor in the public square stems from a failure to appreciate the distinction.

5. Blind Spot

A couple of physicists and a philosopher walk into a bar.... and notice that science has a great big blind spot. There are things that it just cannot see. Just as a person who relies exclusively on a metal detector will never find wood.

6. Speaking of Physics

Sabine Hossenfelder wonders at the reasons there has been nothing really new in basic physics since the great paradigm shift of the turn of the last century. It's all i-dotting and t-crossing. So far, the Standard Model stands strong!

7. What to Do with Surprise Medical Bills.

The Manhattan Contrarian says: Don't pay 'em.

8. Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are.

Several of the swarm of Democrats vying to challenge the Donald have promised to implement Health Care For All, for example by extending Medicare to everyone.  TOF thought this had been settled by the Affordable Care Act, but no one seems to want to mention it any more. ACA is in hiding. This Act, in the spirit of all slapdash government 'programs' has made health insurance less affordable, hurting the poor most of all, as usual, The Manhattan Contrarian notes that these new proposals will work for sure, no foolin'.

Monday, June 17, 2019

A Blast from the Past

A post from Sunday, March 6, 2016, still has some timely elements. Of course, back then the Republicans had a massive primary field of 16 candidates, some of whom were competent. That is not so this time. The last time we had a herd of candidates, we got Trump.The comments below deal with the 2016 election. Perceptive Reader may judge which are timeless.

Notes from the Untergang

Dr. Boli gave us the following observation by
In debating his opponents, Mr. Trump uses a particular style of argument that is enormously effective on the third-grade demographic:
OPPONENT. I believe you are mistaken in your inference.
TRUMP. You’re ugly.
OPPONENT. What I mean is that there is overwhelming scientific evidence to support my assertion that vaccines do not cause autism.
TRUMP. I mean, seriously, who puts a face like that on network TV?
Because it is not usually encountered outside the playground, this rhetorical figure does not have a common name. Dr. Boli will therefore give it one, and call it the argumentum ad vultum, the argument against the face or countenance. 
A reminiscence of the Marge:
Some years ago, when the Incomparable Marge took our daughter to see The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, she found herself two rows behind the Donald and his then-wife. They spent the performance necking and smooching and engaging in serious PDsA, pretty much ignoring the dancing on-stage until his daughter came out with the other children dancers. 
You know what that means?

That's right, sports fans, it's Political Season once again! For those who supposed it had always been political season, 24/7/365, well, now it's Prime Time. OK, Primary Time. TOF will now share some random thoughts of golden wisdom, some of them his own, and some of which (not necessarily his own) he may agree with.

1. Candidates should hold debates. They haven't done so since 1960.
No, really. Remember debate club in high school or college and how debates were carried out? Position, rebuttal, and all that? What we have now are joint press conferences, with reporters holding the whip. But as regards reporters, remember the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect, as enunciated by Michael Crichton:
"You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know."
Republican debate
These maestros specialize in asking questions designed to create drama, because the news paradigm of an election is the horse race. Or a boxing match. (Or in this year, a Battle Royale Cage Match.) 
2. The media's purpose is to sell beer and shampoo, and that means eyeballs in front of the tube, and that means scandal and drama.
So don't expect them to show many moments of candidates making cogent policy points or proposing important positions. Don't believe it? When was the last time they featured remarks by John Kasich on the news? They always lead with Trump for the same reason your local news always leads with a fire or a car wreck. Sooner or later, candidates looking for all-important tube-time give in and give the media what they want. The Democrats are more arch with their internecine put-downs, but they too are out to entertain the media.
3. Trump is popular because he takes on the media and political correctness.
People are sick and tired of being hectored, chastised, and condescended to by special snowflakes and all the rest. Trump does not back down and go all apologetic when called out. Hooray. Finally someone is talking back! Of course, Chris Christie was like that, too; but he was not a rich, coiffed Manhattanite cocktail partier. The problem is that political correctness is like Trump's Wall. In an effort to keep out the drug smugglers and terrorists that might mix in with the unregulated immigrants and refugees, Trump seeks to bar the everyone. And in an effort to bar genuinely hateful speech, political correctness tries to ban even the hint of a possibility that anyone might take offense.
4. Exit polls of Democrats on Stupor Tuesday revealed that the most frequently named characteristic looked for in a candidate was "caring." We are apparently electing an emo-in-chief. Among the uncaring Republicans, it was "competence."
TOF believes it should also matter what a candidate cares about and what he is competent at. The top Republican contender at the present time is a real estate wheeler dealer who, except for the real estate deals, has not been notably successful in his business ventures, so the definition of competent may be fluid. And what does it mean to "care" if the result of raising the minimum wage to $15/hr is that inexperienced youth will be unemployed from higher paying jobs?
Newlyweds Donald Trump Sr. and Melania Trump with Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bill Clinton at their reception held at The Mar-a-Lago Club in January 22, 2005 in Palm Beach, Fla. At the time, Trump was a Democrat and supported Clinton over Bush. In 2008 he would write that Hilary Clinton would make a great president. (Maring Photography/Getty Images/Contour by Getty Images)

5. Beware of politicians who want to be Leaders.
For that to happen everyone else must become Followers. Besides, we tried Leaders in the 30s and 40s and that did not work out very well.The idea that the Man will come and kiss our boo-boos and they will all go away is crazy. Yet in country after country, the answer to corruption or the perception of corruption has been the Man on Horseback on one horse or the other. Remember when "This is the moment when the oceans stopped rising"?
6. The Tea Party and the Occupy This movement are the same movement.
They both object that powerful money interests control the government. The answer of the Occupy movement is to give the controlled government more power. The answer of the Tea Party movement seems to be electing the money interest to be the government.
Off topic: What is the difference between occupying Wall Street and occupying an Oregon bird sanctuary during the off-season? Ans. In the former case a woman gets raped; in the latter case, an occupier gets shot dead.
7. Donald Trump claiming not to know who David Duke is was ludicrous in the extreme. That the media did not know that Donald Trump had denounced David Duke a decade and a half ago is not ludicrous only because a) the media are pretty much ignorant of anything that happened more than a week ago and b) it does not fit the narrative into which they want to shove Trump.
In 2000, Trump stated that he was leaving the Reform Party because of the involvement of "David Duke, Pat Buchanan and Lenora Fulani. That is not company I wish to keep." ("What I Saw at the Revolution," The New York Times OpEd, February 19, 2000), as per Wikipedia.
8. Trump is not part of the Republican Establishment.
True dat. According to Wikipedia, he was a Democrat until 1987; then he was a Republican from 1987 to 1999. He then switched to the Reform Party from 1999 to 2001. After a presidential exploratory campaign with the Reform Party, he quit because of the involvement of David Duke and others. From 2001 to 2009 he was a Democrat again; he switched to the Republican Party again from 2009 to 2011. An independent from 2011 to 2012, he returned to the Republican Party in 2012. Asked to name the best president of recent years in 2015, Trump picked Bill Clinton; and in 2008 he said that Hilary Clinton would make a good president or vice-president. 
So he is definitely not part of the Republican Establishment. But he is one of the Forbes 500 and definitely part of the Northeast Establishment.
9. Heard elsewhere: 'A frustrated public agrees that this election “absolutely calls for a really futile and stupid gesture to be made on somebody’s part. And we’re just the guys to do it.”'
Yes, it's the Animal House election!
10. Also heard elsewhere: 'Trump's entire campaign is “let’s get even with Obama and make America great again”. Many followers seem only interested in the first part. Of course, that's how we got Obama—hatred of Bush.'
In other words, this is about more hope and change.
11. Also heard elsewhere: 'Trump’s signature issue–and the only one he really needs to get Normal-Americans on-board–is “BUILD THE WALL.”'
The French built a wall, too. They called it the Maginot Line. How'd that work out for them? He says he will get Mexico to pay for the wall. Really? If Mexico could afford to pay for a wall, she could afford to pay her workers enough to employ them at home. In problem-solving, we teach managers to address the root causes, not the symptoms; but Trump is not a very good manager.
One way to help Mexicans stay at home and build their own country is to stifle American demand for drugs that go to enrich the gangs that terrorize Mexicans into fleeing. We're looking at you Wall Street and Hollywood. 
BTW, ya like that hyphenate 'Normal-Americans'? TOF remembers when True Americans were trying to keep the Irish refugees out.
12. What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun! Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!” has already existed in the ages that preceded us. (Eccl. 1:9-10)
In the 1800 election, Jefferson's supporters described President Adams as a "hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman." In return, Adams' men called Vice President Jefferson "a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father." As the slurs piled on, Adams was labeled a fool, a hypocrite, a criminal, and a tyrant, while Jefferson was branded a weakling, an atheist, a libertine, and a coward. When TOF was researching his family tree, he had cause to read the Washington (NJ) Star of sometime in 1864 whose front page was headlined WE SUPPORT MCCLELLAN AND THE ENTIRE DEMOCRATIC SLATE and referred in the body of the "article" to "Abe the Ape, King of the N*****s." Only they did not use asterisks.
In case you think the media today is biased.
 13. Heard elsewhere: "There’s no use charging Trump with 'populism.' Direct election of the president is by definition populism.
Is it coincidence that Trump's major attacks have been on conservative news organs and he has boycotted conservative forums and been disparaged by conservative magazines and papers? Something is going on, and those who persist in thinking in terms of 'liberal' and 'conservative' may be missing an important realignment taking place. In the FIRESTAR series, TOF postulated two new parties: American and Liberty (the former nationalist/populist; the latter, libertarian) at right angles to the Democrats and Republicans and originally comprised of members of both.
14. Mass rallies of screaming fans are more appropriate for rock concerts than for politics.
But it is the tenor of the times. Cf. the audiences on the Tonight show compared to those of Carson's day; or the audiences on the plaza of the Today show. Nowadays, they cheer the monologue, more than they laugh at it. They are cheering and screaming for themselves and that they are being televised. Self-adulation is carrying over to these political rallies. A certain amount of rally behavior is supposed, but one should recall the rallies in Weimar Germany and proceed with caution.
15. Bernie Sanders has the peculiar superpower of actually enunciating policy positions through the media news blender.
Of course these positions are a caution. He wants to nationalize health care so that health care can flourish the way education and marriage have flourished since government has taken those in hand. He also favors the $15 minimum wage, which would effectively price low-skill workers out of the market. There is a difference between ideas that sound good and those that do good. See Venezuela for details.
16. Hillary still doesn't get it.
The question behind the email server is not whether sensitive material was leaked. It's why  the heck was she taking her work home at all? That's just basic poor judgment. 
17. Who knows but that the best candidates may not have dropped out?
Martin O'Malley on the Democrat side; Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie on the Republican. All of these had experience actually governing a state. Of those presidents that history has judged best, most had previously been governors or generals; or those judged worst, most have been senators or representatives. There are exceptions to every rule -- Zachary Taylor was not so hot while LBJ was very effective -- but the presidency is an executive job, not a collegial one and the skill set required to make one a successful senator may not work too well in the executive chair.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Happy Father's Day

I Am
In the long line of fathers, one stands out. But insofar as the Flynn are concerned, we start with:

1. Martin Flynn of Loughrea (c1806-1873)

who raised a family through the Great Hunger, sent his sons (and likely his daughters) off to the New World and followed, only to die shortly after.
He was the father of

2. John Thomas Flynn (c.1843-1881)

who emigrated around 1865 and became a citizen. He worked in the railroad repair yard, where he was crushed between two coal cars. He was the father of

3. Daniel Joseph Flynn (1871-1944)

 He worked as a shoemaker when his father died, and then as a blacksmith in a

foundry, He was the father of

4. Francis Thomas Flynn (1900-1977)

He ran the dining cars for the Lehigh Valley Railroad, then was assistant manager for the Hotel Easton. When the Great Depression ruined his plans for running his own hotel, he went on the road, worked as an accountant at a construction site and sent money home. He was the father of

5. Joseph Francis Flynn (1924-2018)

After serving in the Marine Corps in WWII, he came home and became a pressman, then superintendent in a printing house. He was the father of

6. Michael Francis Flynn (1947-??)

He was the first Flynn to graduate college, majoring in mathematics. He worked as a quality engineer, then as a consultant in quality management and statistical methods. He is also the author of a bunch of science fiction stories and novels. He is the father of

7. Sara Margaret Flynn and Dennis Michael Flynn

neither of who, though for different reasons, is a father.
For fairness sake, we mention the fathers of the Incomparable Marge.

1. John Ransom White (1806-1884) 

who was born in NC moved to TN then in 1847 to Fannin Co. TX. He was a farmer, and the father of

2. George Washington White (1839-1895)

who came to Fannin Co, Texas with his family in 1847 and farmed. He was the father of

3. Jasper Moses White (1879-1937)

who was imprisoned in Texas, then moved to Arkansas and Louisiana and started a new family, He had been the father of

4. Claude Lee White (1897-1967)

who with his brother Dick was raised by his mother in Ft, Towson, Choctaw Nation. He worked as an armored car driver in Tulsa and after his wife died, raised his daughter, the Incomparable Marge, as a single dad.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Memorial Day 2019

Technically, Memorial Day is for the Union dead of the Civil War, but was expanded to include all those who died in service the the United States. Since only one of those who follow died in service  and only one was a Union soldier, this list is not strictly correct. However, two of them did die later in life partly aggravated by wounds incurred in the service.

Sgt. Tommy Flynn, CAC team Papa Three, USMC, Vietnam

Sgt. Tommy Flynn

My father's cousin lived with villagers in the mountains near Cam Lo just a few miles south of the DMZ. 

"The idea was to somewhat integrate with the Vietnamese people in order to gain their trust and friendship and ultimately military intelligence that would help us find the bad guys. It sounds good, and at times it was probably very good, because the Vietnamese were helped with schools and sanitation and protection from the Viet Cong. But it was also an extremely dangerous assignment. CAC soldiers lived near a village and survived mostly on their own. It was a small compound that was flooded when it rained and was overrun several times by the Viet Cong. On one such occasion, Mr. Flynn was severely wounded in the face, neck and thigh. He spent weeks in several hospitals and then a hospital ship with his jaw wired shut, before being mistakenly sent back to the war. He was given a choice; he could work in the rear or go back to his CAC squad. He was either a little nuts, or little bit more brave than most of us, because he chose to return to his squad."-- from Joni Bour's review of A Voice of Hope by Thomas Flynn
+ + +

Pfc. Joseph Flynn, 5th Eng. Btn., 5th Marine Division, USMC

My father served on Iwo Jima and in the Japanese Occupation. 

As a combat engineer, Joe had the task of blowing things up, a task at which he had had practice, since he had once blown up his bedroom at home while electrolysizing water into oxygen and (alas) hydrogen.  He was assigned to battalion liaison for the landing, which meant he landed with the first wave on Iwo Jima and would take word to his company of battalion location.  His buddies all figured he was a dead duck.  The beach was volcanic sand so fine and slippery that it was hard to get traction, and the Japanese had always dealt harshly with the first wave.
Pere (upper right) as flag waver
During one bombardment, he took refuge in a shellhole on the beach with (iirc) his captain.  A black marine from the Pioneer Battalion came to the edge of the hole and... stopped.  "Permission to join you, sir!"  The officer responded by telling him to get his sorry black ass into the shellhole tout suite.  Years later, recounting the incident, Joe said that the young man had grown up in an environment in which a black man did not join a group of whites without their leave, even if Japanese shells were raining about him.  A culture that would do that to a man, he said, just wasn't right.

On another occasion, while returning to the front line with anti=tank grenades, a Japanese mortar shell impacted in front of him. The blast lifted him up and dropped him on his back. For a while he lay there, numb and unable to hear. Gradually, his feelings came back and, standing up, he took inventory. Everything seemed to be working, which he found remarkable. And no blood!

TOF asked the Old Man once when he first felt old, and he said on his 20th birthday, the day he left Iwo Jima. 
+ + +

Pfc. Harry Singley, 304th Eng., 72nd "Rainbow" Div., AEF

Harry Singley and his wife Helen Schwar
My grandfather on my mother's side served in the St. Mihel, Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  He wrote home:

"It was on Sept. 26 when the big drive started in the Argonne Forest and I saw all kinds of things that I never witnessed before.  We started out on the night of the 25th.  At 9 o'clock we commenced a tank road and worked our way almost to the German's front line trenches.  At 2:30 one of the greatest of all barrages was opened.  It was said that between 3500 and 4000 guns, some of them of very large calibre, went off at that hour just like clock work.  We worked on this road under shell fire until about 3:45 and then went back until the infantry went over the top at 5 o'clock.  We followed with the tanks.  That is the way the Americans started and kept pounding and pushing ahead until the great day on Nov. 11.  ...

First day of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive
26 Sept. 1918
It was some life.  I am proud that I went through it, for nobody on the Hill will have anything on me...  I was a little with sneezing or tear gas.  It made me sick but I remained with the company for I did not like to leave my detachment at any time for if something would happen, I thought, there would be plenty of help.  I felt much better in a few days.  A small piece of shrapnel splinter hit me below the knee.  Otherwise I was lucky. ..."

"Somebody will wake up soon when the boys get back to the States..."

He had a cane inscribed "FRANCE" to deal with that shrapnel below the knee. That cane is now an aid in my own infirmity. Guv died young. I barely remember him. I was told that the gassing in WW1 contributed to his death.
+ + +

Pvt. John H. Hammontree, Co. H, 5th Tenn Inf., US Vol.

Union troops in Cumberland Gap
The great-great grandfather of the Incomparable Marge joined the Union Army when Confederates come into East Tennessee and told the fellas there 'you boys better be a-wearing gray in the morning' or they would be hung.  Well, they didn't cotton to that at-all, and so they left that night and crossed the mountains to sign up with Buell's army of the Ohio. 

John fought in the Cumberland Gap campaign of 1862. He was captured there and then paroled. This was followed by the Stone's River campaign, the 5th arriving at Stone's River just in time. The regiment then held the crossroads after the battle of Chickamauga, before being pulled back into the Siege of Chattanooga, during which U.S.Grant takes charge. The regiment was then sent on the Knoxville campaign of 1863 to link up with Burnside. But since Longstreet was advancing on Knoxville right through the Hammontree farms, John (and others) went AWOL to see to his folks. Once the danger was past, he returned.

Finally the regiment was organized into Schofield's Army of the Ohio for the Atlanta campaign, and fought at Dalton, Rocky Faced Ridge, and Resaca.  At Resaca John received a bullet wound in left leg while the brigade was advancing the thickets against the Confederates entrenched on the ridge. This wound eventually contributed to his death, years afterward.

+ + + 

Pvt. James Hammontree, Capt. Duncan's Co., Col. Bunch's Regt, (2nd Regt., East Tennessee Militia)

Battle of Horseshoe Bend
Margie's great-great-grandfather's grandfather fought at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend under Gen. Andrew Jackson in the Creek (Red Stick) War.  This was part of the War of 1812.  

Andrew Jackson's official report of the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (27 March 1814) mentions that "a few companies" of Colonel Bunch were part of the right line of the American forces at this engagement. More than likely, some of those companies included Captains Francis Berry, Nicholas Gibbs (who was killed at the battle), Jones Griffin, and John McNair. In addition, muster rolls show some casualties from this battle in the companies led by Captains Moses Davis, Joseph Duncan, and John Houk. Other men from this regiment remained at Fort Williams prior to Horseshoe Bend to guard the post -- provision returns indicate that there were 283 men from Bunch's regiment at the fort at the time of the battle.
+ + +

Pvt. John Hammontree, Capt. John Montjoy's Co. of Foot, 10th Virginia, Continental Line.

James Hammontree's great uncle John enlisted in the 10th Virginia at an unknown date and may have seen action with the regiment at Brandywine and Germantown before entering winter quarters at Valley Forge.  In January 1778, he was reported "sick in camp" and he died there on 24 Feb 1778.

Pvt. Harris Hammontree, Capt. Wm. Cunningham's Co. of Foot, 1st Virginia, Continental Line.

The 1st Virginia has a long ancestry, and exists today as the 276th Eng. Battalion of the Virginian National Guard.  John Hammontree's younger brother Harris Hammontree enlisted in the 1st Virginia on Feb. 12, 1778, after the regiment had gone into encampment at Valley Forge.  In April and June he was reported as "sick," but unlike his older brother, he survived.  He may have participated in the battle of Monmouth in June 1778.  Most of the regiment was captured by the British at Charlestown, South Carolina, on May 12, 1780, but Harris may or may not have still been with the regiment at that point.  He was killed by Indians on the Virginia frontier, 25 Jul. 1781. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Our Watch is (Almost) Ended

With Game of Thrones approaching its final episode and characters dropping like flies, the question on everyone's lips is: who will sit on the Iron Throne?   

Ask no more.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Mothers on Parade

This is a Mothers' Day post from a couple years ago reposted here

We will start with

1. The Incomparable Marge, who is the mother of the TOFsprings, shown here in their cute-and-innocent versions:
Sara, a/k/a Dear in the Headlights

Dennis: Wait, What's Going On Here...

 However, the I/M is herself the daughter of a mother, and while we have no digitized picture of the two in Madonna-and-child pose, we do have them individualized, as it were:
Elsie Vera Hammontree, mother of the I/M

The Marge, imitating a bean bag

2. Elsie Vera Hammontree (1924-1951) of Oklahoma died when the Marge was very young but she is remembered for humming Strauss waltzes while she did her ironing in the kitchen. Margie was her only child, and her dad never remarried. The Hammontrees had settled in colonial Virginia, fought in the Revolution (two were at Valley Forge, and one died there), went over-the-mountain into East Tennessee, fought with Andy Jackson at Horseshoe Bend in the War of 1812; fought in the Army of the Cumberland under Schofield in the Civil War (wounded at Resaca) and headed west to Oklahoma by way of Arkansas. Elsie married Claude Lee White, whose mother was a Choctaw with the splendid name of Maggie Jam and who had raised her two sons alone in Ft. Towson, Choctaw Nation (later part of Oklahoma). For her part, Elsie was the daughter of....

3. Ora Vanora Harris (1901-1967) of whom TOF has no digitized photograph. The Marge was largely mothered by this grandmother (and by multiple aunts) after Elsie died. The Harrises had once lived in Hardin Co., KY, neighbors to Thomas and Abraham Lincoln, and moved with the Lincolns to Spencer Co. IN. (One bore the delightful name of Greenberry Harris.) But when the Lincolns moved again to Illinois, where Honest Abe grew to become famous, the Harrises pushed on to Cold Springs, MO and thence to Indian Territory, where Ora married John B. Hammontree and bore three daughters and two sons in the bustling metropolis of Quinton, OK.  Ora's mother was...

4. Sadie Frances Holland (1884-1918), who had been born in Louisiana and moved with her parents to Chickasaw Nation in 1898, where she married Charles Harding Harris and had five sons and three daughters. She died young of bronchial pneumonia aggravated by measles after a 13 day illness. The Hollands seem to have moved through the Lower South, perhaps starting from Mississippi. Sadie was the daughter of...

5. Annie Eliza Helms (1861-1939), who had been born in Lee Co., Georgia of North Carolinian parents, was married in Claibourne, LA, to Henry Thomas Holland, with whom she had five children: two boys, two girls, and one unknown who died in infancy. They moved to Chickasaw Nation, where they farmed next plot to Charlie Harris, who married their daughter. She died in her late 70s of a brain hemorrhage brought on by hypertension. She was the daughter of...

6. Gatsey [Helms] (c. 1826 - after 1880), maiden name not yet known, was born somewhere in North Carolina. About 1844, she married Henry Helms, of a prominent North Carolinian family, bearing seven children, of whom Anne Eliza was the youngest. Between 1847-48 they moved to Georgia; in 1850 were in Chambers Co. Alabama; and by 1860 back in Lee Co. Georgia, where Anne was born. She lived through the Civil War and (to go by her residence) Sherman's March to the Sea. She was widowed sometime between 1860 and 1880, when she was living in Claiborne LA, where her daughter married Henry Holland. Not known when or where she died.

n. Mitochondrial Eve. Okay, so she's everyone's eventual mother.....

TOF, meanwhile, is also the son of a mother; to wit:

1. Rita Marie Singley (1924-1993) a/k/a "The Mut"
Mut, displaying her bona fides as a mother
TOF is descended from a long line of German mothers. This is an especially daunting thing, for there is nothing more immovable than one. When the pastor at the church hesitated to baptize TOF on the grounds that the parish was German and the name was Flynn -- "Take him to St. Bernard's. That's where the Irish go." -- the Mut said that she would take TOF home and baptize him herself under the kitchen sink. She would have done it, too. The pastor caved.

The Singleys had come from Gemeinde Oberhausen (Upper Houses) in the Grand Principality of Baden around 1854, in the aftermath of the famine, turmoil and oppression following the failed Republican revolution of 1848. They had lived there or in the neighboring community of Niederhausen (Lower Houses) since the close of the Thirty Years War in the mid-1600s. The name had been originally spelled Zängle. In Nockamixon Twp, Bucks Co, PA, the name became Zingley, later Singley. Her mother was...

2. Helen Myrtle Schwar (1896-1952) a/k/a "Big Mom"

Big Mom, with her smaller brood: Mut in arms, twins Ralph and Paul below
Big Mom is the literal translation of Grossmutter, the German word for grandmother. We lived in her house two doors up the street for five years. Technically, by modern standards, we were homeless. Among my fond memories at life up the street, is Big Mom's theory that the cure to all illnesses was an enema. Come Christmas, she dressed up as Santa and brought gifts. She had married Harry Singley, a veteran of the Great War, and a bricklayer. There is a story about him and bricklaying which must await another day. They had three children: a set of identical twins and the Mut. Her three children eventually moved into houses that were only a couple doors away. Each received a tree, in the traditional German fashion of celebrating special occasions with a tree, sister sycamores, and though two of them have since gone to that Great Woodpile in the Sky, their offspring litter the south side to this day.
TOF (r) and his Milchgeschwester (c)
Milk-siblings were those who suckled at
the same breasts.

The Schwar family (the name rhymes with "swear" but lost its umlaut long ago) came from Niederhausen and see the brief recap of the Singleys, above. The name means "heavy," and in the records of Oberhausen/Niederhausen (now called Rheinhausen) the Schwährs were stone masons back to the late 1600s. The stone work on TOF's home was laid by Mut's uncle Leo Schwar. There is a story about Pere assisting him, which will await some other day.

The whole area on that part of South Side was once known as Schwartown for the obvious reasons, not least of which are the stone houses. The plethora of interrelated families from Oberhausen/Niederhausen contributed to the firm conviction of TOF and his Milchgeschwester that every person we were introduced to was related to us in some fashion. Schwar, Singley, Metzger, Deck, Keck, Breiner, Raisner, Albus, und so weiter all went back to those same two villages on the Rhine at the edge of the Black Forest. Near Eifelheim, if you read famous SF novels....

3. Frances Hungrege (1870-1926)
Frances: I'll see your five and raise you ten
Big Mom on far right
Mut's grandmother, third from left in the back row, lived in the big stone house on the next corner. She married Francis Joseph Schwar, a stone mason, in 1894. The Hungreges, mirabile dictu did not come from Baden, let alone Oberhausen/Niederhausen, but rather from Westpfalz, which was then ruled by Prussia. Not much else is known about her. She was the daughter of....

4. Magdalena Rieß (1836-1901)
Magdalena Riess,
No family shots
Magdalena emigrated from (you guessed it) Niederhausen in 1854 "to visit friends" (according to her passport) and never went back. In the absence of passport photography, the passport describes her in that infinitesimal German style. So we know she was 5 Schuh and 1 Zoll tall [about 5'1"], slender figure, long face, healthy complexion, black/brown hair, low forehead, and so on. She married in Haycock Run, Bucks Co, PA, to Conrad Hungrege, formerly a steamboat captain on the Rhine. They had eight children, six of them boys. She was the daughter of....

5. Franziska Stefan (1799-1856)
Fishermen on the Rhine
who was born, wed, and died in Niederhausen. She married Johann Rieß, a fisherman on the Rhine and was mother to nine children, eight of them girls. Four of her children died in infancy or childhood, one indeed after four days. We are now in the days before antisepsis, when cutting edge medicine meant breeding superior leaches and measuring precisely the amount of blood let. Magdalena was the last of Franziska's children and lived to be 65 in America. A fortunate thing she was not easily discouraged and did not succumb to grief.   She was the daughter of...

6. Maria Anna Pflüger (c.1772-1845)
who likewise was born, wed and died in Niederhausen. She was the third wife of Josef Stefan and had by him four children, two of whom died in infancy. Franziska was the second daughter of that name, her namesake having died  scant eight months earlier at just about a year's age. After Josef died, Maria Anna took a second husband, viz., Jakob Metzger. During her lifetime, Napoleon was running hither and yon across Europe, including across the Germanies. M. Anna's mother appears to have been

7. M. A. Schwörer (???-???)
who married Georg Pflüger, also a fisherman. But at this point, even German record-keeping falters and it may be that some records were lost during the Napoleonic wars. There is a gap in the microfilms. So far, TOF has not a clue about these more remote ancestors.

n. Mitochondrial Eve
Since she is everyone's maternal ancestor, this means the Marge and TOF are remote -- very remote -- cousins. But this is no surprise. Considering how many of TOF's ancestral mothers came from Oberhausen/Niederhausen, one is not astonished to learn that he is his own seventh cousin.

Other Mothers
TOF hasn't even scratched the surface of those mothers to whom we must credit our mere corporal existence. This is only the pure maternal strain. There are also the mothers of fathers to be considered.  Sarah Jane Metzger from (where else) Niederhausen. Pere's mother Blanche Jean Cantrel (whose ancestry wends its way back through the Pas de Calais). The delightfully named Sinia Jane Chisenhall (who lurks on the Marge's ancestral tree). Mary McGovern, of whom a photograph shows her playfully aiming a shotgun at the photographer. (The McGoverns came from the Glan in Co. Cavan, a then-remote and inaccessible valley where they made their own whiskey. She knew how to use that shotgun.) Then there was Nancy Holloway, who was a model for Mae Holloway (up to a point) in "Melodies of the Heart." But we have to draw the line somewhere or we will end up with every mother who has ever lived.

Though, on second thought, why not? Consider them, and yours, added as well.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

A blast from the past

reprinted from Monday, September 25, 2017

Quotes of the Day

Today's quote got TOF thinking -- always a scary thing -- and led him to hunt up a couple of other quotes that seemed in the same vein. First, the quote that started the thought process.
"The heroes of declining nations are always the same—the athlete, the singer or the actor. The word ‘celebrity’ today is used to designate a comedian or a football player, not a statesman, a general, or a literary genius." 
-- Glubb pasha, (1897-1986) 

Interestingly, he based this on his studies of the old Abbasid Caliphate, the Mamluq Empire, the 'Osmanli Turkish Empire, and others, compared cross-culturally. 

Sir John's historical analysis may be far too glib. Glubb glib? Say it ain't so! TOF can roll his eyes at some modernist categories used out of context. "Universities" in the 7th century? Forsooth! But recall that a "celebrity" once meant not someone who is merely famous, not to say notorious, but someone in whose honor a formal celebration had been held: a banquet served, scholarly papers read, speeches given. Galileo was given such a fest by the Jesuits shortly after his first book came out and was thereafter referred to as "a celebrated astronomer."

Now some literary geniuses are indeed celebrated in the modern sense of being famed, although genius ought be equated neither with best seller lists nor with the compatibility of their works with one's own prior socio-political commitments. There are surely some generals who can be celebrated -- for their competency in the arts of war, if nothing else. But statesmen? Are there really such things anymore? A slight digression in the sequence of quotes:
"Meanwhile, at the end of the twentieth century a degeneration in the conduct of the relations of states goes on. When I see or hear or read the language or the behavior of foreign ministers and ambassadors, I am a witness of an enormous decline, not only of intelligence but of diplomatic practice (including decorum) and human common sense. I write 'enormous' since the symptoms of a babbling barbarism are all around us... What may succeed it is the rule of tougher barbarians who will not, because they need not, babble." 
-- John Lukacs, At the End of an Age

And yes, he wrote that before Twitter was invented. But now let us couple Glubb's observation with two others. Among other signs of the autumn of the Modern world, John Lukacs cited the shift from books to images (movies, TV shows). "Show, don't tell." The celebrities cited by Glubb pasha seem right in line with this. And earlier, Jacques Barzun remarked:
The new pastimes of the educated amateur are the arts of nonarticulate expression: music and painting…  Everywhere picture and sound crowd out text.  The Word is in disfavor…
 – Jacques Barzun, The House of Intellect 
Barzun also noted the replacement by the 1950s of "I think that..." with "I feel that..." in colloquial speech.
More recently we have this comment from the then-archbishop of Denver which puts some consequences of the shift:
Visual and electronic media, today’s dominant media, need a certain kind of content. They thrive on brevity, speed, change, urgency, variety and feelings. But thinking requires the opposite. Thinking takes time. It needs silence and the methodical skills of logic. ... [This trend is] a very dangerous thing in a democracy, which is a form of government that demands intellectual and moral maturity from its citizens to survive.
--Charles Joseph Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., “Catholics and the ‘Fourth Estate’”
But as long as we are attuned to the Spirit of the Age and keep au courant with this morning's fads, all shall be well.


This led one commentor to write:
I guess the Elizabethans were all barbarians, given that every educated person and a lot who weren't, were given to singing partsongs at home and playing lutes. In fact, most of the great cultural periods assumed that you wanted to draw or sketch in ink, write poems, dress gorgeously, and also conquer the world and make wise decisions for the state.
which missed the point. Glubb was not noting that many or most people of a time and place enjoyed making music or acting. It was that singers, actors, and athletes were celebrated as heroes. Name a celebrated athlete from the Elizabethan era, or a celebrated singer. Even a celebrated actor: Certainly, Shakespeare worked as an actor, but we was celebrated as a playwright.

None of which has to do with barbarism. Although drawing-and-quartering and spiking decaying heads on Traitors Gate do seem less than genteel. Glubb was writing of the decline of great societies. Elizabethan England did not celebrate its singers as heroes.

Whoa, What's This?

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