Friday, January 20, 2006

The Russo-Finnish War

The Russo-Finnish War. This is a book review by S. J. Larly of the book A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War Of 1939 - 40 which was written by William R. Trotter.

This is a substantial review which also gives a good overview of the Russo-Finnish War (also called the Winter War) of 1939-1940. The Soviets invaded Finland with a huge million man modern army. The Finnish army consisted largely of reserves fighting with older weapons and equipment. Stalin expected an easy victory he did not get. In fact, the Soviets were slaughtered.

Lalry writes:

Russian tactic demanded straight ahead attacks, ignoring the fact that Finland had few roads --- there was no off-roading in the Arctic at that time --- and equipment and men could get jammed up, easy pickings for sharpshooters traveling by skis. Mannerheim had spent a dozen or so years as a commander in the Russian military --- so he knew the strengths and weaknesses of their tactical systems. His counterattacks involved lightning guerrilla raids from first one flank, then the other, keeping them constantly off balance.

He continues further in the text:

But war is war. Every now and again, what peeps out from under the specific battles and the commanders and the tactics and the names (those Finnish names!) is the fact that men are being butchered; indeed, in one early battle, Trotter reports that Finnish machine gunners had to be treated for shock after killing wave after wave of Russian soldiers who kept on coming, crawling forward on the bodies of those who were dead and dying.

In the end, the Soviet army won at a huge cost. The Finnish army lost but was not totally beaten. It would attack the Soviet Union in retaliation during World War Two.

What this review does not address is why the Soviet army performed so poorly during this war. The answer is simple, Stalin. The mad dictator of the Soviet Union had gotten paranoid that his military was plotting against them. So, he purged the officer corp. When the Russo-Finnish War began, the leadership of the Soviet army was in the hands of inexperienced generals and officers.

The war was important for the Soviets. As Lalry noted, "The lessons the general staff learned about fighting an implacable enemy were crucial to the ultimate success that it had two years later against the German Wermacht." And the war might just have taught Stalin that mass executions of his military leadership was not in his best interests.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

History of Netherlands Antilles

History of Netherlands Antilles. This site provides information on this Dutch islands territory which consists of Curaçao, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, Saba, and Sint Maarten.

Wikipedia notes, "The Netherlands Antilles (Dutch: Nederlandse Antillen), previously known as the Netherlands West Indies, are part of the Lesser Antilles and consist of two groups of islands in the Caribbean Sea that form an autonomous part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (none of the other Antilles use this term in their name). The islands' economy is dependent mostly upon tourism and petroleum."

From the site:

In 1845 the Dutch Leeward islands united with Curaçao, Bonaire, and Aruba in a political unit. The abolition of slavery hurt the islands' economy until the 20th century, when oil was discovered off the shores of Venezuela and a refinery was established on Curaçao. Also during that period an offshore financial sector was created to serve Dutch businesses.

Since 1945 the federation of the Netherlands Antilles--Curacao, Bonaire, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten--have been autonomous in internal affairs. Aruba also was a part of this federation until January 1, 1986, when it gained status apart within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Walk Through Historic Buildings

Walk Through Historic Buildings - The US National Park Service provides this quick guide to identifying the visual character of a historic building, to be aware of what is important to preserve. It also includes a quiz.

One point to remember is that just because a building is old does not mean it is historic. Community activists make this mistake a lot as they try to use the age of buildings to thwart developers. However, if you have a historic building, this site will give you tips on how to identify key features of the building and preserve them accordingly.

From the site:

That's the question you always need to ask – and answer – before starting to rehabilitate a historic building. If you can identify the visually distinctive materials, features, and spaces prior to work, you are much more likely to preserve them during the work.

WHO SHOULD COME IN? This web site is designed especially for new members of historic preservation commissions, as well as property owners, architects, and developers. Anyone is welcome, of course!

WHAT CAN YOU LEARN? Through illustrated examples, we show you how to weigh the visual impact of proposed changes to the exterior, interior, and site using a 3-step approach. By applying this method to evaluate a historic building from a distance, up close, and inside, you can begin to decide where alterations might reasonably take place – and which visual aspects you need to preserve.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Die Like an Egyptian A Multiple Intelligences Exploration of Egypt

Die Like an Egyptian A Multiple Intelligences Exploration of Egypt - At this site, students complete projects about ancient Egypt that correlate with Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. Thie site is authored by Gina Mannino and Donna Clark.

Maybe it is just me but I think this site is a bit strange. However, I approve of teaching students about ancient Egypt so if it works...

For a brief overview of Multiple Intelligence Theory, check out Multiple Intelligences: Theory and Practice in Adult ESL.

From the site:

Welcome to ancient Egypt! For the next few weeks, you will be studying the culture and beliefs of the ancients. You will be simulating an Egyptian mummification as well as exploring different topics related to the Egyptians' belief in the afterlife. In addition, you will be required to complete three projects of your choice using the Internet.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Morgan Report

Morgan Report. Those interested in Hawaiian history will be pleased to learn that the Morgan Report is now available online.

It is a Senate report issued in 1894 which examined what role the United States played in the Hawaiian Revolution of 1893. It found that the US role in the Hawaiian revolt was minimal.

The Morgan Report refutes the allegations made by James Blount in his Blount Report which was issued in 1893. Blount failed to swear in witnesses or even interview some of the key members of the revolt. Despite these flaws, the Blount Report has been online for years. It is nice to see the Morgan Report available online as well. This will help researchers and historians get a fuller view of the events of 1893 in Hawaii.

The site is set up as a Wiki but visitors can not edit the content. This is probably a good idea as I imagine that this site would get vandalized a lot from some in the Hawaiian separatist community. The site owner (Jere Krischel) will issue accounts to anyone who wants to help out with the project though.

From the site:

The "Morgan report" is today's name for a report to the U.S. Senate by its Committee on Foreign Relations, whose chairman was Senator John T. Morgan, Democrat of Alabama. Senate Report 227 of the 53rd Congress, second session, was dated February 26, 1894.

The Morgan report was printed as part of a large volume containing other government documents: "Reports of Committee on Foreign Relations 1789-1901 Volume 6." In that volume the "Hawaiian Islands" section begins with its own title page being page 360. The actual content of the Morgan report doesn't begin until page 363 of the larger volume 6. The page numbers shown on this webpage are the same as printed in the larger volume 6. Therefore, anyone desiring a page number for the Morgan report as though it is a stand-alone document should subtract 359 from the numbers shown on this webpage.

In what may have been a surprise to Cleveland, the Morgan Report thoroughly repudiated the conclusions of Blount, and with the Morgan Report's conclusion, the matter was legally closed. Cleveland explicitly accepted the conclusions of the Morgan Report, continuing to engage in international relations with the Provisional Government, recognizing the Republic of Hawaii, and even negotiating treaties originally ratified under the Kingdom government with the Republic.

Although sovereignty activists insist that the Provisional Government was a puppet government, installed by the U.S., as per Cleveland's December 18, 1893 letter to Congress, it is critical to note that with the submission of the Morgan Report on February 26, 1894, Cleveland accepted that his original assertions were in error.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The life of Martin Luther King Jr.

The life of Martin Luther King Jr. Although it is being observed on Monday in the United States, Martin Luther King's birthday is actually on January 15th. As such, I will link to a biography of King today.

The article is from the Seattle Times about the life and impact of Dr. King. Another good site on his life is Timeline of the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. which was created by by second grade students inNew York.

From the site:

Any number of historic moments in the civil rights struggle have been used to identify Martin Luther King, Jr. — prime mover of the Montgomery bus boycott, keynote speaker at the March on Washington, youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. But in retrospect, single events are less important than the fact that King, and his policy of nonviolent protest, was the dominant force in the civil rights movement during its decade of greatest achievement, from 1957 to 1968.

King was born Michael Luther King in Atlanta on Jan. 15, 1929 — one of the three children of Martin Luther King Sr., pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, and Alberta (Williams) King, a former schoolteacher. (He was renamed "Martin" when he was about 6 years old.)

After going to local grammar and high schools, King enrolled in Morehouse College in Atlanta in 1944. He wasn't planning to enter the ministry, but then he met Dr. Benjamin Mays, a scholar whose manner and bearing convinced him that a religious career could be intellectually satisfying as well. After receiving his bachelor's degree in 1948, King attended Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, Pa., winning the Plafker Award as the outstanding student of the graduating class, and the J. Lewis Crozer Fellowship as well. King completed the coursework for his doctorate in 1953, and was granted the degree two years later upon completion of his dissertation.