Category Archives: History

Why US passenger trains suck

Primarily, according to James McCommons’ Waiting on a Train, because the highways aren’t clogged enough yet to make politicians realize they can’t build their way out of the traffic jams and put real money into trains the way they do highways and short-hop jet travel.

At least that’s my interpretation of what he reported in his good 2009 examination of the politics of America’s passenger trains—which mainly are run late and haphazardly by Amtrak. Although there are a few regional commuters like the Heartland Flyer from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City.

Neither a fan nor a foamer, I have taken the train when it pleased me to do so (or when it pleased my parents, as when my mother who had no car took infant me home on trains full of soldiers in 1945, and my father did when I was fifteen and he didn’t want to drive) and I have fundamentally enjoyed the experience.

Even when the coaches and sleepers were old and/or dirty and the vistas less than scenic. I would just like having the option to take the train. A train that’s pretty much on time and comfortable. It’s one thing the Europeans do right.

Great Red River Showdown

In a thrilling seesaw battle of the offenses, Texas finally beat Oklahoma 48-45, the most ever scored in the rivalry.

Texas is back, with a 5-1 record this season. Even winning with a field goal, just like in the old days under Mack Brown. It surely felt like an instant classic.

Via Hook’Em dot com

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Congratulations Justice Kavanaugh

Review: The Butterfly Rose

A new review of my novel The Butterfly Rose by Tom Werzyn in the Oct. 3, issue of the online VVA Veteran Magazine:

Rarely these days are readers granted an opportunity to enjoy an offering so well constructed and presented as Dick Stanley’s novel, The Butterfly Rose(Cavalry Scout Books, 252 pp. $13.08, paper; $.99, Kindle), a three-generation story of an American and a Vietnamese family’s involvement with each in Vietnam.

Stanley, a former journalist who served in the infantry in the Vietnam War, wordsmiths the English language to an almost lyrical presentation.

One example: “It is a valley of flowers but none is more beautiful than the silken, five petal roses that turn many colors in their brief lives, as ephemeral as butterflies fluttering on a green bush.”

The Butterfly Rose centers on a young, Confederate Army officer, Sean Constantine, a large man with a glowing mane of red hair and a beard to match. After participating in The battle of Manassas, he joins the French Foreign Legion. Through a series of events involving his brother, father, black servant, and a stay in Paris, Constantine is posted to a colonial French garrison in the Central Highlands of Vietnam.

His love of roses, developed over the years of his Mississippi youth and his worldly travels, finds a like-minded individual in the 1860s in Vietnam: a village shaman, an old woman skilled in naturopathic and herbal medicines and remedies. She also is a conjurer who converses with the many gods and deities roaming the Vietnamese jungles.

Dick Stanley

Fast forward a century to a team of American advisers working with an [RF-PF] combat team in that same Central Highlands valley near Que Son. Neal Constantine, a red-headed grandson of Sean, is a member of that American team, working as a historian. He possesses his grandfathers’ 1860s diary and flower guide. And he meets the great granddaughter of the village healer, without knowing about the earlier family connection.

The story toggles back and forth between the centuries, chapter by chapter. Parallels are drawn, including the weather, expectations of higher commands, tactics, ideologies, as well as the relationship between the big, red-headed American and the old healer and their shared interest in the roses that populate the valley.

This novel artfully spans nations, generations, wars and people, and it ties all those strands together with a shared love of flowers and of the short gift we all share with each other—that of life.

Dim hypocrisy

The Dims liked to say that poor Christine Fraud (Doctor Christine Fraud to you plebs, though she’s not an MD) had nothing to gain by accusing Judge Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Uh, not so fast.

First of all—besides her GoFundMe of almost a million dollars, probably paid by Soros—there’s the book deal…

Via Instapundit

UPDATE:  From commenter CoogsHouse713 at Instapundit: “The book deals for books that nobody buys, speaker fees, and GoFundMe accounts are modern day forms of money laundering, bribery, and corruption.”

MORE: Althouse commenter Priscilla on SNL’s “fearless comedy”: “There was potentially more actual humor to be had in parodying the 6-year old voice and bizarre child-like demeanor of the 51-year old Ford. But we must take the ‘victim’ very seriously and never doubt that she is disingenuous…” Which is why she’ll make the big bucks.

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Oldie but a Goodie

Public art: “Arid and ugly”

I could roll out dozens of examples but you’ve probably seen a few dozen yourself: giant nuts and bolts, swooping whatevers, steel beams colored to look… And to think they were promoted by the Soviet Union.

“…in the 1930s members of CPUSA (the Communist Party of the USA) got instructions from Moscow to promote non-representational art so that the US’s public spaces would become arid and ugly.

“…the Soviets, following the lead of Marxist theoreticians like Antonio Gramsci, took very seriously the idea that by blighting the U.S.’s intellectual and esthetic life, they could sap Americans’ will to resist Communist ideology and an eventual Communist takeover.”

And now we not only have “arid and ugly” public art but we have several serious political candidates pushing socialism beyond the Social Security System we’re all used to. Despite socialist Venezuala’s ongoing collapse. Not so laughable is it?

Via Instapundit