Monday, June 23, 2008

Napoleon's Horses

I really like the names Napoleon chose for his horses (he had over 150): they include Wagram, Roitelet, Intendant, Vizir, Marengo, Tauris, Cyris, Styrie, Desiree, Aboukir, Familier, Cheikh, Gessner, Hahim, Navigateur, Gonsalvo, Embelli and Naturaliste. These will also work for your goldfish.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Diary of Paul Nobuo Tatsuguchi

"All the patients in the hospital were made to commit suicide. I am only 33 years old and I am to die. Have no regrets. Banzai to the Emperor"
Paul Nobuo Tatsuguchi
I found the document below in a pile of memorabilia my grandfather brought home from his service in WWII. He served with the Tenth Air Force (USAAF) in India, and then for a short time in Okinawa. I never got the chance to ask him about the origins of these four pages, and never bothered to read them closely until recently. Upon first seeing the document, a U.S. Army transcription of a Japanese medical officer's diary, I naturally assumed that he acquired it from colleagues in the Pacific Theater. I also assumed it was a historically unremarkable document, one of thousands of similar transcriptions that undoubtedly were generated as allied forces closed in on the Japanese mainland.

But my assumptions were all wrong. The medical officer in question, one Paul Nobuo Tatsuguchi, penned his diary much closer to home - in Alaska. In it he recorded his last days during the Battle of Attu, the final defeat for Japanese forces in Alaska. I don't know how my grandfather acquired the letter. Perhaps it was from a relative of his who served in Alaska with the 11th Air Force; apparently many unauthorized copies of the diary were shared among fascinated U.S. military personnel in Alaska (this copy is marked with the seal of the Army Examiner, however).

Tatsuguchi managed a field hospital on Attu, and had an unusual background for a Japanese officer. Prior to the war he earned a medical degree at Loma Linda University in California and completed an internship at a Los Angeles hospital. He also converted to Christianity as a Seventh Day Aventist. He moved back to Japan and was eventually conscripted.

Following the death of Tatsuguchi in battle (refer to the Wikipedia article for a full account of his story), the diary was translated by Army intelligence and eventually reached the U.S. media, who shared the story of the U.S.-educated, Christian Japanese officer who suicided his own troops exclaiming "Bansai to Emperor!".

The Tatsuguchi story begins at 3:04 in the first YouTube video. The text is also available online here (but seems slightly different). Click on the scans to enlarge. Notice that on the first page, his name is spelled "Nebu Tatauquchi" - one of the reasons it took me so long to connect the document to the now famous Paul Tatsuguchi.


Scanner is Working!!!

I'm scanning away, with a fresh batch of ephemera. I'm sure you can use the DPD target, but please take the time to read "Getting to the Other Side. Or, How to Safely Cross a Busy Street Using a Pedestrian Signal" brochure produced a few years ago by the Oakland County, Michigan government. This useful document demonstrates the effective use of tax dollars, enlightening the public on proper use of that mysterious newfangled gadget they call the "pedestrian signal". Print it, and share it with your friends. Help them master both button-free and button-operated signals. (Remember, YOU MUST PUSH THE BUTTON!). Click to enlarge images.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Extreme Hot Sauces

In 1912 chemist Wilbur Scoville devised the Scoville Scale, which has become the industry standard for measuring the hotness of chili peppers and hot sauces.

Tabasco sauce measures about 5,000 Scoville units. A Habanero chile ranges from 100,000 to 350,000. Standard pepper spray ranges from about 2 to 5 million Scoville units.

The Source hot sauce is one of the worlds hottest, weighing in at 7.1 million Scoville units. It is meant as a food additive, to be diluted into larger chili recipes and other spicy fare.

Many culinary daredevils enjoy proving themselves by taking The Source straight out of the bottle. Given its extreme potency, this is typically done with a toothpick, ingesting a tiny droplet of the substance, which has a tar-like consistency. The packaging is replete with warning labels - with good reason. Even the vapors can be an eye irritant. A small dropper bottle of The Source will run you about $100.00. You'll find videos of people on YouTube experimenting with it. Results vary; different people have different tolerances.

But supposing this isn't hot enough for you, you might want to try the hottest hot sauce possible. That is, pure crystals of capsaicin.

Blair's 16 Million Reserve has, you guessed it, a Scoville Rating of 16 million, the very highest possible. This will cost you $200.00, and comes with a neato little skull.

Bon appetit!

Quote : If-by-whiskey

A speech by Noah S. Sweat, Mississippi legislator, 1952:

"My friends,

"I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, here is how I feel about whiskey.

"If when you say whiskey you mean the devil's brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.


"If when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman's step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life's great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

"This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise."

Sunday, June 1, 2008