Category Archives: Americana

Pearl Harbor ~ the ‘Allies knew’ meme

With the anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor recently past, I am often reminded of different claims that the allies (Churchill or, particularly, Roosevelt) knew about the attacks, yet did nothing to stop them because, you know, they just wanted war and death and blood and global imperialism by having the US fleet destroyed, etc.  Thankfully, there are some objective historians who can present the facts as they are, as Ron Hegelmo does here.

As for claims that Japanese messages should have been decoded, Hegelmo notes:

Duane Whitlock, unlike Mr. Nave, was there, on Corregidor, working on the Japanese codes. “I can attest from first-hand experience that as of 1 December 1941 the recovery of JN-25B had not progressed to the point that it was productive of any appreciable intelligence,” stated Whitlock-“not even enough to be pieced together by traffic analysis….It simply was not within the realm of our combined cryptologic capability to produce a usable decrypt at that particular juncture.”

 In the early 1990s the U.S. Navy transferred all its cryptologic archives from Crane, Indiana to the National Archives in Washington. This includes 26,581 JN-25 intercepts from 1 September to 7 December. All of these are available for public review. Frederick Parker, who studied 2413 of these intercepts, argues in the film that had they been read at the time, they would have provided clear evidence of the impending attack on Pearl Harbor.

 Rusbridger and Nave, in their book, claim they were read, but offer no evidence.

Well, here is the evidence: The 2413 pre-Pearl Harbor intercepts had been decrypted by Navy cryptologists after the war while they were waiting to be mustered out of the service. While Parker makes a strong circumstantial case that the attack would have been discovered had these messages been read, cryptologists at that time would not have been looking just at the 2413 intercepts; they would have been looking at all 26,581. Would they have been able to discern the relevant information from all that noise?

As for the Churchill as warmonger meme that inevitably pops up from time to time, you cannot do better than reading the response to such claims from way back in the summer of 2004 in Finest Hour (issue 123) by Michael McMenamin, in which he tackles many other inaccuracies raised by certain far right and far left critics.  So, read from the link below if you’re interested.

Finest Hour 123 can be found here in PDF form among many other excellent past issues.

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Filed under Americana, Churchill, History

Ghost Rider

In August of 1997, just following the “Test for Echo” tour, Neil Peart’s daughter, his only child, was killed in a car accident.  Within a year, Neil’s wife died of cancer.  He felt broken and lost, and so he got on his BMW bike and hit the road on a journey that would, in many ways, become his healing road.  This intimate book chronicles that journey.

Maybe more for Rush fans, though it is also a great travel book; but I would certainly also recommend it for people who are grieving a loss.  That’s something I don’t really know much about, thankfully.  My Dad died earlier this year, a wonderful man of 80 years who was healthy right up to the near-end; its hard to have lost him, but I know he led a good, full life and left a fine legacy.  There’s suddenness and sadness and surreal-ness to all of that, but not the shock and life-changing impact of the kind Peart faced.  Still, there are bits there that helped me in that regard.

For Neil, it was to keep moving, in the hope that something would come up, to keep nurturing his ‘little baby soul’ and keep going.  He had no interest in music or his past life, he even thought of that guy as another person really, someone he didn’t know or could relate to.  So, it was the road that helped him.

And also writing many many letters to friends and loved ones, as well as some journal writing.

From a ‘travelogue’ aspect, this is also a very interesting book.  He traveled west from the Laurentians to western Canada, then up to Inuvik on a very sketchy road, then back down, through Alaska, then via ferry to southern BC then down through the western US to Mexico and Belize, and then some more travels besides.  Great descriptions of scenery, roads, towns and places where he stayed.  So many twists and turns.

I’ve read a few reviews where people complained about him hiding behind his glass of scotch, hoping to avoid fans (anyone who would know him), the ones whose patronage allowed him to head out on the road for two years and stay where he liked and drink nice scotch.  To stay away from those people.  Hmm.

At its core, I don’t think Peart is too far off on the whole ‘fame’ thing from how I think I would see it.  He and his mates wrote music and released their art as albums, people paid a fair price for buying that music so they could listen to at their leisure.  Peart and his mates sell tickets to live concert performances where they play their songs, and people pay a fair (though hefty) price to go see them perform and take enjoyment from that experience.  Done, right?

Yeah, I suppose.  But, Neil and Geddy and Alex aren’t selling luggage.  They’re selling personal, inspiring art that connects with people on deeply personal levels.  Patrons are touched by it and react differently to the makers of the product than they would to the makers of finely crafted luggage (ooo, Corinthian leather!).  There’s obviously a different connection and reaction that you should expect.

I know he understands that, and thinks those people are mostly fine; just that he isn’t hugely comfortable in dealing with them much of the time.  Fine.

I’m happy and proud to be one of those people (and I would probably just give him a nod, ‘hey’, if I saw him anywhere).  😎

Well, back to the book itself.  It’s worth checking out.  It’s a very intimate journey and communication of thoughts and feelings during a very difficult time in life; an intimate look at real human thoughts and feelings, and how life can right things again and make us whole.

Just keep moving.

When Neil finally returned to the band, the song Ghost Rider appeared on their next album, “Vapour Trails“.

“Ghost Rider”

Pack up all those phantoms
Shoulder that invisible load
Keep on riding North and West
Haunting that wilderness road
Like a ghost rider

Carry all those phantoms
Through bitter wind and stormy skies
From the desert to the mountain
From the lowest low to the highest high
Like a ghost rider

Keep on riding North and West
Then circle South and East
Show me beauty but there is no peace
For the ghost rider

Shadows on the road behind
Shadows on the road ahead
Nothing can stop you now

There’s a shadow on the road behind
There’s a shadow on the road ahead
Nothing can stop you now

Sunrise in the mirror
Lightens that invisible load
Riding on a nameless quest
Haunting that wilderness road
Like a ghost rider

Just an escape artist
Racing against the night
A wandering hermit
Racing toward the light

From the white sands
To the canyon lands
To the redwood stands
To the barren lands

Sunrise on the road behind
Sunset on the road ahead
There’s nothing to stop you now
Nothing can stop you now


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Filed under Americana, Books, Canada, Life, Music, Travel

Temples of Freedom and Honour (a September 11th remembrance)

These cruel, wanton, indiscriminate bombings of London are, of course, a part of Hitler’s invasion plans.  He hopes by killing large numbers of civilians and women and children that he will terrorize and cow the people of this mighty imperial city, and make them a burden and anxiety to the government and thus distract our attention unduly from the ferocious onslaught he is preparing.

Little does he know the spirit of the British nation or the tough fiber of the Londoners, whose forebears played a leading part in the establishment of parliamentary institutions and who have been bred to value freedom far above their lives.

This wicked man, the repository and embodiment of many forms of soul-destroying hatreds, this monstrous product of former wrongs and shames has now resolved to try to break our famous island race by a process of indiscriminate slaughter and destruction.

What he has done is to kindle a fire in British hearts here and all over the world which will glow long after all traces of the conflagrations he has caused in London have been removed.

He has lighted a fire which will burn with a steady and consuming flame until the last vestiges of Nazi tyranny have been burned out of Europe and until the Old World and the New can join hands to rebuild the temples of man’s freedom and man’s honor upon foundations which will not soon or easily be overthrown.

— Winston Churchill (September 11, 1940)

I’ll never forget.  I was so glad to have been able to speak with my future wife, even though we were in different cities.  I had to go to my brother’s place, just to see the kids and play with them.

Forever remembrance to those who were lost, and condolences always to the loved ones left behind.

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Filed under Americana, Churchill, History

The Big Short / Boomerang

Recently read a few books by Michael Lewis; first, “The Big Short” and then “Boomerang”.  Enjoyed them both, with “Boomerang” being lighter fare than “TBS”.  TBS chronicles the development of the mid-2000s bubble and the investors who recognized it and bet against it; B’rang follows Lewis around the world to look at what else had been happening in Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany, and then back to the US.

TBS, of course, is gobsmacking, even if you thought you already knew the details.  It is summed up best in the example of the Mexican farm labourer in the southwestern US making $14,000 a year getting a $750,000 mortgage.

But B’rang was interesting as well.  The crazinesses of Icelandic bankers, the Greek government, Irish bankers (and, later, the Irish government), and, yes, even the German bankers.  Lewis brings out the interesting and humourous point that, while the Germans behaved properly through all this, German bankers had no problem lending money to people elsewhere to engage in activities that most of them would not engage in domestically (excluding the “Dusseldorf” bankers, etc.).

An interesting review of the latter book in Guernica Magazine, featuring Salman Rushdie’s idea about morality: “the basic idea of all morality: that individuals are responsible for their actions.”


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Filed under Americana, Books, Economy

The Art of America’s Arteries

Via Ghost of a Flea, here are some cool pics of America’s crumbling interstate system, as documented by Peter Andrews.


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Filed under Americana, Photography