Sunday, August 21, 2011

Molybdenum, Tungsten, and Big Bertha

Some very interesting Insight into the world of war profiteering, and the world of limited natural resources

In today's excerpt - molybdenum and tungsten. A key German advantage in World War I was Big Bertha, a forty-three ton gun which could fire a 16-inch, 2,200 pound shell nine miles. However, after a few days of firing, the twenty-two foot steel barrel would be useless since the iron in steel has a low melting point. The solution? Molybdenum from America in World War I and tungsten from supposedly neutral Portugal in World War II:


"The famous Krupp armament company found a recipe for strengthening steel: spiking it with molybdenum. Molybdenum ... could withstand the excessive heat because it melts at 4,750°F, thousands of degrees hotter than iron, the main metal in steel.


"Back in the trenches, the Germans were soon blazing away at the French and British with a second generation of 'moly steel' guns. But Germany soon faced another huge Bertha setback - it had no supply of molybdenum and risked running out. In fact, the only known supplier was a bankrupt, nearly abandoned mine on Bartlett Mountain in Colorado.

"[One world war later], Nazi Germany coveted tungsten for making machinery and armor-piercing missiles, and its lust for [it] surpassed even its lust for looted gold, which Nazi officials happily bartered for tungsten. And who were the Nazis' trading partners? ... It was supposedly neutral Portugal whose tungsten fed the wolfish appetite of the German kriegwerks. ...


"Proving his worth as a former professor of economics, [Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio] Salazar leveraged his country's near monopoly on the metal (90 percent of Europe's supply) into profits 1,000 percent greater than peacetime levels. ...

" Salazar ...  played the Axis and Allies brilliantly with vague promises, secret pacts, and stalling tactics that kept the tungsten trains chugging. He had increased the price of his country's one commodity from $1,100 per ton in 1940 to $20,000 in 1941, and he'd banked $170 million in three frenzied years of speculation. Only after running out of excuses did Salazar institute a full tungsten embargo against the Nazis on June 7, 1944, the day after D-Day, by which point the Allied commanders were too preoccupied (and disgusted) to punish him. I believe it was Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind who said that fortunes can be made only during the building up or tearing down of an empire, and Salazar certainly subscribed to that theory. In the so-called wolfram war, the Portuguese dictator had the last lycanthropic laugh."
Author: Sam Kean   
Title: The Disappearing Spoon
Publisher: Back Bay
Date: Copyright 2010 by Sam Kean
Pages: 91-94

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements
by Sam Kean by Little, Brown and Company


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Delanceyplace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context.  There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, are occasionally controversial, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came. 

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Saturday, August 20, 2011

A question of class

A question of class

Colonizing, De-Colonizing, and Greed!

So this is how it's all about money, and power. Aw shucks! I thought it was about what was good for people and their countries :(

In today's  excerpt - in the 17th through the 19th centuries, an astonishing thing happened: the countries from the tiny continent of Europe took over almost the entire rest of the world and ran those lands as colonies. All of Africa save Ethiopia became colonies; all of the Americas, almost all of Asia (save China, which became a de facto colony after the opium wars). And while this was portrayed as an effort to lift up these savage countries ("the white man's burden"), it retarded the natural development of leadership within these countries and instead became an opportunity for daring entrepreneurs like Cecil Rhodes to build fortunes.

The benefits to the European governments that did the colonizing was far less evident though, and the colonies became a financial burden, which led to the unraveling of the British, French and other empires in the aftermath of two world wars. However, the great mineral wealth of these countries was too much for the businesses and entrepreneurs to leave behind, so as these countries were being "de-colonized", the sponsoring countries attempted to leave behind "friendly" leadership, even if the result was to continued to retard the development of organic leadership and democracy within those countries. Such was the case with the African nation of Gabon and the "Elf affair" which splashed across European headlines in the mid-1990s. One of the most fascinating aspects of this - which is relevant in understanding the selection of post-colonial dictators in numerous other countries - is that the French chose a dictator from a minority tribe to increase that dictator's dependency on French support:

"The so-called Elf affair scandal began in 1994 when U.S.-based Fairchild Corp. opened a commer­cial dispute with a French industrialist, triggering a stock exchange inquiry.
Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens
by Nicholas Shaxson by Palgrave Macmillan

Hardcover ~ Release Date: 2011-04-12

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Should you use the above link to purchase a book, delanceyplace proceeds from your purchase will benefit a children's literacy project. Delanceyplace is a not-for-profit organization.

About Us

Delanceyplace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context.  There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, are occasionally controversial, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came. 

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

China's "Great Leap Forward"....1958 to 1962

Holly crap batman! .....this is a totally sad story.... oh the humanity! For all those Conservative Republicans, who constantly tell us how great the 1950's were, and how we all need to return to the values of that time!, .....I think you need to look at the "bigger" picture! :) It was not a great time for ALL PEOPLES on this big blue planet!

In today's excerpt - during Chairman Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward, which was an effort to use centralized Communist planning to vault China's economy past those of the Western European powers, China endured one of the greatest tragedies in human history - the death of over 45 million people:

"Between 1958 and 1962, China descended into hell. Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, threw his country into a frenzy with the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to catch up with and overtake Britain in less than fifteen years. By unleashing China's greatest asset, a labour force that was counted in the hundreds of millions, Mao thought that he could catapult his country past its competitors. Instead of following the Soviet model of development, which leaned heavily towards industry alone, China would 'walk on two legs': the peasant masses were mobilized to transform both agriculture and industry at the same time, converting a backward economy into a modern communist society of plenty for all.

"In the pursuit of a utopian paradise, everything was collectivized, as villagers were herded together in giant communes which heralded the advent of communism. People in the countryside were robbed of their work, their homes, their land, their belongings and their livelihood. Food, distributed by the spoonful in collective canteens according to merit, became a weapon to force people to follow the party's every dictate. Irrigation campaigns forced up to half the villagers to work for weeks on end on giant water-conservancy projects, often far from home, without adequate food and rest. The experiment ended in the greatest catastrophe the country had ever known, destroying tens of millions of lives. ...

"At least 45 million people died unnecessarily between 1958 and 1962. The term 'famine', or even 'Great Famine', is often used to describe these four to five years of the Maoist era, but the term fails to capture the many ways in which people died under radical collectivization.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Psychopath with Hysterical Symptoms = Adolf Hitler

"There was no medical reason for Hitler's second blindness and Dr. Forster reinforced in his initial conclusion that his patient was definitely 'a psychopath with hysterical symptoms.' Hitler, however, was convinced he was permanently blind."

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In today's excerpt - in 1918, after one final military assault that fails, Germany is defeated. Young Adolf Hitler, blind after a mustard gas attack, and humiliated after the Fatherland's defeat, vows to enter politics. His entry is part of a wave that carries Europe from royalty to revolution - sweeping aside those kings and emperors that had carried Europe into the unprecedented carnage of a pointless war:

"Throughout Europe royalty was clinging to hollow power. From the untitled masses were emerging men like Hitler who would come to wield the substance of power, men of common and often vulgar beginnings, riding the relentless wave of popular revolt against a war which had demanded sacrifices for goals no one could define.

"As the train took Hitler to a hospital in the Pomeranian town of Pasewalk, his own pain and despair obliterated any such aspiration, but after several weeks of medical treatment be began to regain his sight.
"Sight also brought Hitler hope and renewed interest in the events of the day. Berlin itself was in a state of virtual siege as the new Chancellor urged the Kaiser to abdicate so that an armistice could be signed.

"The shame of Germany's surrender on November 11 in the forest of Compiegne overwhelmed him. Life seemed unbearable, but that night, or the next, Hitler was abruptly delivered from his misery, as he lay in despair on his cot, by a 'supernatural vision' (perhaps deliberately induced Dr. Forster). Like St. Joan, he heard voices summoning him to save Germany. All at once 'a miracle came to pass' - the darkness encompassing Hitler evaporated. He could see again! He solemnly vowed, as promised, that be would 'become a politician and devote his energies to carrying out the command he had received.' "

Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography
by John Toland by Anchor

About Us

Delanceyplace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context.  There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, are occasionally controversial, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came. 

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Islam, Trade, and the Camel

The camel is a truly amazing animal !

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In today's excerpt - founded by the prophet Muhammad in the sixth century C.E., Islam spread faster than Christianity and its kingdom grew larger than the Roman Empire. By one estimate, the Islamic caliphate's revenue in 820 C.E. was no less than five times greater than that of the Christian Byzantine Empire. This fortune was built on trade and the marketplace, and that trade was built on the backs of camels:
"Water scarcity presented the primary obstacle standing between Islam and its historic rise to greatness through trade. First and foremost, it needed a way to cross the long expanse of its own hot, waterless interior deserts. Its first triumphant innovation, which at a stroke transformed the barren desert barrier into an insulated, exclusive Islamic trade highway, came by its disciplined organization of the hardy camel, with its prodigious water-storing capacity, into long trade caravans and military supply transports. A caravan of 5,000 to 6,000 camels could carry as much cargo as a very large European merchant sailing ship or a fleet of barges on China's Grand Canal. Islam's quasi-monopoly over this powerful pack animal provided it with the mobility to cross and exit its desert homelands - and to make its mark on world history.

"The one-humped Saharan dromedary was specially adapted for the hot deserts. It could go without drinking water for a week or more, while plodding some 35 miles per day across the desert sands with a 200-pound load on its back, Water was stored in its bloodstream - its fatty hump, which grew flaccid during long journeys without nourishment, functioned as a food reserve - and it maximized water retention by recapturing some exhaled water through its nose. Once at a water source the camel speedily rehydrated by consuming up to 25 gallons in only ten minutes. It even could tolerate briney water. It possessed an uncanny memory for the location of water holes. Moreover, it could eat the thorny plants and dry grasses that grew on and lands and were indigestible by most other animals. During a trip, camels could lose one-quarter their body weight, twice the amount fatal to most other mammals. The camel's extraordinary physical attributes made it possible for caravans to make the two-month, trans-Sahara trip from Morocco to Walata at the frontiers of the Mali Empire in Africa, which included one notorious stage of ten waterless days. ... Camels took Arab merchants and soldiers everywhere."

Author: Steven Solomon   
Title: Water
Publisher: Harper
Date: Copyright 2010 by Steven Solomon
Pages: 133-135
Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization

Monday, June 13, 2011

Sybil Ludington of Ludingtonville Mass.

Click on the link for the entire story. The former governor from Alaska should read this!

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In today's excerpt - with all deference to a former governor from Alaska, not only was the purpose of Paul Revere's ride to warn the revolutionaries of an impending British attack, there was another heroic ride of warning twice as long as Revere's. The rider was  sixteen year old Sybil Ludington:
"[The militia rallied and] discouraged the British from any further attacks in the area. As a result, the Americans in the vital region gained precious time to organize and resist, in large part due to the efforts of sixteen-year-old Sybil Ludington,
"And, unlike Revere, Sybil Ludington completed her mission without being captured. Yet she remains largely unknown.
In perhaps the ultimate tribute, the name of her hometown was to be changed from Fredericksburg to Ludingtonville.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

In These Times

This nonprofit and independent newmagazine established in 1976 is probably exactly what we need to be in wide circulation and widely read today!

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In These Times
In These Times is a nonprofit and independent newsmagazine committed to political and economic democracy and opposed to the dominance of transnational corporations and the tyranny of marketplace values over human values.
The late Sen. Paul Wellstone, one of the first subscribers to In These Times, put it this way: “Meaningful democracy cannot survive without the free flow of information, even (or especially) when that information threatens the privileged and the powerful. At a time of growing media concentration, In These Times is an invaluable source of news and information that the corporate media would too often prefer to ignore.”
“If it weren’t for In These Times, I’d be a man without a country.” —Kurt Vonnegut

The Second-String Psychopaths

Must of what has happened lately in politics sadly seems to support this thesis.

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The Rise of the Second-String Psychopaths

The great writer Kurt Vonnegut titled his final book A Man without a Country. He was the man; the country was the United States of America. Vonnegut felt that his country had disappeared right under his – and the Constitution’s – feet, through what he called “the sleaziest, low-comedy Keystone Cops-style coup d’état imaginable.” He was talking about the Bush administration. Were Vonnegut still alive in the post-Bush era, he would not have felt that his country had returned.

How had our country disappeared? Vonnegut proposed that among the contributing factors was that it had been invaded – as if by the Martians – by people with a particularly frightening mental illness. People with this illness were termed psychopaths.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Two obscure events that saved the union....interesting!

This excerpt got me thinking about the civil war, slave states vs. free states.....the Erie Canal, and the Mississippi River, all at the same time. It is all interesting history, and very interesting events that tend to shape what this country is today! I,m currently reading Mark Twain's "Life on the Mississippi", and find it an eye opener into that period of American history. Mark Twain was a Mississippi river boat pilot, and I recommend the book for an education in the importance of this big muddy river. Apparently Samuel Langhorne Clemmons (1835-1910) was smack-dabe in the middle of all these important events and turns of American history!

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In today's excerpt - the completion of the Erie Canal and the extension of Illinois' border north to include the land that became Chicago saved the Union. The Mississippi River held an economic dominance over the middle of the country in the early 1800s, and put that dominance in the hands of Louisiana, Missouri and other slaveholding states. It was only the opening of the Erie Canal that created a self-contained East-West economic region among the Great Lakes states, and thus gave them economic independence from this Mississippi dominance. So when Congress was carving out the new state of Illinois under the dictates of the "Northwest Ordinance" - one of the three key "founding documents" in American History since it helped define how new states could be admitted to the country - it was careful to extend its borders to include a port on Lake Michigan:


Sunday, June 05, 2011

The Diminishing Social Security Safety Net

At age 68, after working hard and raising three kids, and help in the raising of two grandkids, Social Security and Medicare, are the only way my wife Carolyn, 67yrs.) ,and I are able to stay alive for a few more years, and maintain a semblance of dignity.

I recently had "open heart" surgery that replaced a broken Aorta Valve, and a damaged Aorta Artery. There is no question that without this operation, I would not be here. We were not able to save enough money during our working years to keep us financially independent. Ergo, we would now probably now be a financial burden on our kids.

I am very grateful for the social safety nets that are now in place, and I constantly try to appreciate the days, months, and years that I may still participate in our world of family and friends. Our participation is good not just for ourselves, but for our extended family.

So, the way I see it, the social safety net is a benefit to everyone. The social safety nets are, and should be considered a benefit to our country and our society. It saddens me to think that the future is looking so bleak for the younger generation, and for our country, and our society. We are all together in this great adventure called life!

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3 Ways Your Social Security Payments Are Already Being Cut

by Alicia Munnell
Friday, June 3, 2011

Policy experts have focused on alternative ways of eliminating Social Security's 75-year financing gap, but lost in the debate is the fact that even under current law Social Security will provide less retirement income relative to previous earnings than it does today. Combine the already legislated reductions with potential cuts to close the financing gap, and Social Security may no longer be the mainstay of the retirement system for many people.

1. The Extension of the Full Retirement Age
2. The Increase in Medicare Premiums
3. The Taxation of Social Security Benefits

Pit bulls as "Nanny dogs"

That muscular chest.....that big head.....that massive and strong looking jaw! I just don't like seeing that dog next to that little baby! :(

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Pit bulls’ surprising past: Nanny dogs

By Claudine Zap | The Upshot – Thu, Jun 2, 2011

Try to quickly summon an image of good-with-small-children dog, and chances are you'll picture something adorably Benji-shaggy. Or maybe a sweetie-pie golden retriever, or a loveball of a lab. It's not likely, at least not in today's perception of the breed, that an American pit bull terrier leaps to mind.

But not so long ago, pit bulls were brought in as "nanny dogs," the trusted caretaker pups to watch over kids.

Vintage photographs recently posted on a personal blog show off the breed as babysitter.

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Homeowner Forcloses on the Bank!

Sweet Justice! :)

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Florida Homeowner Forecloses On ... Bank

Instead of Bank of America foreclosing on some Florida homeowner, the homeowners had sheriff's deputies foreclose on the bank. (More ...)


Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Free Trade, and the WTO is just about making rich people richer :(

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Thom's blog
American can no longer label tuna products as "dolphin safe"
If you thought our government was in charge of making laws - think again. It turns out the World Trade Organization is telling us what to do. Yesterday - the WTO took a bite out of US sovereignty - ruling that American can no longer label tuna products as "dolphin safe." Why? Because such labeling could restrict the purchase of certain foreign tuna products - thus limiting "free trade" in America.
So now with no incentive to catch dolphin-safe tuna - expect transnational corporate seafood companies around the world to go gangbusters scooping up tuna out of the ocean with no regard to what else might get trapped in their nets. The US has lost 9 out of every 10 cases in front of the WTO since joining the organization in 1995 - so where are the Tea Party protests on this important issue of sovereignty?
Oh right - their corporate founders love free trade - even though it screws America.
(Should the US stay in the WTO? Tell us here.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

400 super rich Americans control more we

Interesting statistic........does any one really give a shit!.....apparently not! :(

Thom's blog
400 super rich Americans control more wealth in the country than 150 million other Americans
Thom logoEven though a government shutdown was averted - working class people will still be screwed over in America. A new report by Wealth for the Common Good shows that the 400 richest people in America - our nation's oligarchs - have never had it so good and are paying the lowest taxes ever in their lifetimes.
Those 400 super rich Americans control more wealth in the country than 150 million other Americans, and yet are effectively taxed at a rate of just over 16% while the rest of spay up to 35% plus higher levels of sales, property, and other taxes. To put that in perspective These 400 rich oligarchs effective tax rate has dropped by more than 2/3 since Dwight Eisenhower's administration - while the rate for working people has nearly doubled. Rich people get a 2/3 tax cut over the last 50 years - working people get screwed with a 100% tax hike.
To make matters worse - average CEO pay increased dramatically last year - despite an 20% real under- and un-employment rate plaguing the rest of us. And yet - now Congress says they're gonna pass a budget that cuts federal education, health care, and energy assistance programs for working class Americans while doing nothing to make America's oligarchs pay their fair share or sacrifice even one damn thing.
(How do you think this situation will be reversed? Tell us here.)

Friday, April 01, 2011

Supersize Me!

David Wallerstein......a great marketeer! Here's the explanation for that "great big bucket of popcorn" at the movies, and a lot of other larger than life food items!

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In today's excerpt - supersizing and the 'thrifty gene':
"That distinction [of inventing supersizing] belongs to a man named David Wallerstein. Until his death in 1993, Wallerstein served on the board of directors at McDonald's but in the fifties and sixties he worked for a chain of movie theaters in Texas where he labored to expand sales of soda and popcorn - the high-markup items that theaters depend on for their profitability. As the story is told in John Love's official history of McDonald's, Wallerstein tried everything he could think of to goose up sales - two-for-one deals, matinee specials - but found he simply could not induce customers to buy more than one soda and one bag of popcorn. He thought he knew why: Going for seconds makes people feel piggish.
"Wallerstein discovered that people would spring for more popcorn and soda - a lot more - as long as it came in a single gigantic serving. Thus was born the two-quart bucket of popcorn, the sixty-four-ounce Big Gulp, and in time the Big Mac and the jumbo fries, though Ray Kroc himself took some convincing.
Author: Michael Pollan
Title: The Omnivore's Dimemma
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The Demise of the Tea Party

" a large group of politically naive white voters who are being manipulated to vote against their best interests by radical millionaires and billionaires like the Koch brothers and Dick Armey"


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Thom's blog
Is the demise of the Tea Party near?
Is the demise of the Tea Party near? According to a new CNN poll - the Tea Party's favorability rating has sunk to an all-time low - just 32%. And 47% of respondents view Tea Partiers negatively. The poll is on the heels of nearly three months of Tea Party rule in the House of Representatives that's seen nothing accomplished on jobs or getting our economy moving again. And this week - there are reports that Tea Party Republicans are threatening to shut the government down unless they get everything they want in budget negotiations.
Maybe people are finally starting to see the Tea Party for what it really is - a large group of politically naïve white voters who are being manipulated to vote against their best interests by radical millionaires and billionaires like the Koch brothers and Dick Armey.
(What do you think will happen to the Tea Party now? Tell us here.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Peter the Wild Boy

Very interesting article from the UK Guardian

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Peter the Wild Boy's condition revealed 200 years after his death

Feral German child who was kept as a pet in George I's court had Pitt-Hopkins syndrome, research into portrait suggests


The condition that affected Peter the Wild Boy, a feral child found abandoned in a German forest and kept as a pet at the courts of George I and II, has been identified more than 200 years after his death.

Peter's charming smile, seen in his portrait painted in the 1720s by William Kent on the king's grand staircase at Kensington Palace, was the vital clue.

Lucy Worsley, the historian at Historic Royal Palaces who has been researching Peter's strange life, suspected from contemporary accounts that he was autistic.

She showed the portrait and gave the description of his physical characteristics and odd habits to Phil Beale, professor of genetics at the Institute of Child Health.


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About Me

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Native of the Philadelphia "Kensington and Alleganey" northeast area. I spent 4 years in the Air Force (Titan-II missles in Tuscon Arizona). I Am currently retired, and among other adventures I spent 28 years working for AT&T in Telecommunications. I've lived in Florida for 33 years....20 years in Hollywood Fla., and 13 years North Florida. I've been married 42 years, and am a proud father of three adult offspring. All of them contributing to society in a very useful and creative manner.