Twins Seven Seven

screen-shot-2016-12-28-at-12-52-57-pmvia Tyler Cowen I learn about Nigerian artist Prince Twins Seven Seven

or more formally Prince Taiwo Olaniyi Wyewale-Toyeje Oyekale Osuntoki.  He received his nickname because he was the only surviving child from seven distinct sets of twins.

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He came to the United States in the late 1980s and settled in the Philadelphia area, although he traveled abroad frequently. His life entered a turbulent period, filled with drinking and gambling, he said. Destitute, he found work as a parking-lot attendant for Material Culture, a large Philadelphia store that sells antiquities, furnishings and carpets.

When the owner learned that Prince Twins Seven-Seven was an artist, he had him decorate the store’s wrapping paper. Later, he was given a small room to use as a studio.

from his obituary

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Top Ten HelyTimes Posts Of The Year

Watching the America's Cup Race. Mrs. Kennedy, President Kennedy, others. Off Newport, RI, aboard the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. by Robert Knudsen

Watching the America’s Cup Race. Mrs. Kennedy, President Kennedy, others. Off Newport, RI, aboard the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. by Robert Knudsen

Hey, thanks for voting in this year’s HelyTimes Awards!

By reader vote, these were considered

The Top Ten Helytimes Posts Of The Year

black-eyed-sue

10) Shorter History Of Australia

about Geoffrey Blainey’s book on how that country became what it is, and their national cry Cooo-EEE!

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9) Jo Mora and Mora Update

about how the Uruguayan-Californian artist influenced almost a century of design

8) Travel Tips From Bill and Tony

Conversations between Tony Blair and Bill Clinton

rivera

7) San Francisco

A visit to that famed city and the Diego Rivera murals hidden around it

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6) Khipus

On Incan rope counting systems and their decipherment

5) Jackie Smoking Pregnant

An investigation into a photo of the former first lady

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4) Twenty Greatest Australian Accomplishments of All Time

This was by far our most popular post by views

the-playa

3) Death Valley Days

A trip to the national park, and its place in our national consciousness

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2) Lady Xoc

About the Mayan queen of the 8th century

The definitive winner for the year?:

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1) Boyd, Trump, and OODA Loops

A review of writing by and about fighter pilot John Boyd, who offers a way into DT’s thinking.

Honorable mentions:

Understanding Politics,

a brief look at Sanders and Trump

Four Bits About Donald Trump,

about you know who, comparing him to Tim Ferriss.

Sunday Takes,

a big wild roundup.

Nestle,

on how a Swiss chocolatier came to own freshwater springs in Southern California

The Death of Michael Herr,

about the Vietnam War correspondent, Kubrick pal and Zen Buddhist

Microsociology,

on the work of Randall Collins, an underappreciated hero

A Description of Distant Roads,

extracts from a 1769 description of California,

Cape Flattery,

a dispatch from rainy New Zealand,

and a personal favorite,

O Pioneers,

about Willa Cather, Walt Whitman, and America.

The most popular post of the year

by views, was

American Historical Figure Who Reminds Me Of Trump

Thanks for reading Helytimes.  We really appreciate all our readers.  We write it just out of graphomania and a compulsion to work out, catalog and channel puzzles, curiosities and questions of interest.  It’s wonderful to know there are people who enjoy the results.

You can email us anytime at helphely at gmail.  Let us know what you think.

All the best for 2017.

Buy this book on Amazon or at your local indie bookstore:

sent by reader Katrina

sent by reader Katrina

 


The Generals by Thomas Ricks

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This book is so full of compelling anecdotes, character studies, and surprising, valuable lessons of leadership that I kind of can’t believe I got to it before Malcolm Gladwell or David Brooks or somebody scavenged it for good stories.

Generaling

Consider how hard it would be to get fifteen of your friends to leave for a road trip at the same time.  How much coordination and communication it would take, how likely it was to get fucked up.

Now imagine trying to move 156,000 people across the English Channel, and you have to keep it a surprise, and on the other side there are 50,350 people waiting to try and kill you.

The Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment's bayonet charge against a Chinese division during the Korean War. Dominic D'Andrea, commissioned by the National Guard Heritage Foundation

The Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment’s bayonet charge against a Chinese division during the Korean War. Dominic D’Andrea, commissioned by the National Guard Heritage Foundation

Even at a lower scale, say a brigade, a brigadier general might oversee say 4,500 people and hundreds of vehicles.  Those people must be clothed, fed, housed, their medical problems attended to.  Then they have to be armed, trained, given ammo.  You have to find the enemy, kill them, evacuate the wounded, stay in communication, and keep a calm head as many people are trying to kill you and the situation is changing rapidly and constantly.

32nd Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Ed Hansen, on floor in front of podium, accepts reports from battalion command sergeants major as the brigade forms at the start of the Feb. 17 send-off ceremony at the Dane County Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Madison, Wis. Family members and public officials bade farewell to some 3,200 members of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and augmenting units, Wisconsin Army National Guard, in the ceremony. The unit is bound for pre-deployment training at Fort Bliss, Texas, followed by a deployment of approximately 10 months for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs photo by Larry Sommers.

32nd Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Ed Hansen, on floor in front of podium, accepts reports from battalion command sergeants major as the brigade forms at the start of the Feb. 17 send-off ceremony at the Dane County Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Madison, Wis. Family members and public officials bade farewell to some 3,200 members of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and augmenting units, Wisconsin Army National Guard, in the ceremony. The unit is bound for pre-deployment training at Fort Bliss, Texas, followed by a deployment of approximately 10 months for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs photo by Larry Sommers.

Being a general is a challenging job, I guess is my point.

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U.S. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, left, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, talk on board a C-17 while flying to Baghdad, Dec. 15, 2011.  Source.

I saw this post about Gen. Mattis, possible future Secretary of Defense, on Tom Ricks blog:

A SecDef nominee at war?: What I wrote about General Mattis in ‘The Generals’

The story was so compelling that I immediately ordered Mr. Ricks’ book:

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A fantastic read.  Eye-opening, shocking, opinionated, compelling.

The way that Marc Norman’s book on screenwriting works as a history of Hollywood:

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The Generals works as a kind of history of the US since World War II.   I’d list it with 1491: New Revelations On The Americas Before Columbus as a book I think every citizen should read.

The observation that drives The Generals is this: commanding troops in combat is insanely difficult.  Many generals will fail.  Officers who performed well at lower ranks might completely collapse.

During World War II, generals who failed to perform were swiftly relieved of command.  (Often, they were given second chances, and many stepped up).

Since World War II, swift relief of underperforming generals has not been the case.  The results for American military effectiveness have been devastating.  Much of this book describes catastrophe and disaster, as I guess war is even under the best of circumstances and the finest leadership.

Ricks is such a good writer, so engaging and compelling.  He knows to include stuff like this:

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Ricks describes the catastrophes that result from bad military leadership.  How about this, in Korea?:

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What kind of effect did this leadership have, in Vietnam?:

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He discusses the relationship of presidents and their generals:

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Here is LBJ, years later, describing his nightmares:

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Ricks can be blunt:

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Hard lessons the Marines had learned:

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Symbolically, There’s a Warning Signal Against Them as Marines Move Down the Main Line to Seoul From RG: 127 General Photograph File of the U.S. Marine Corps National Archives Identifier: 5891316 Local Identifier: 127-N-A3206

A hero in the book is O. P. Smith

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who led the Marines’ reverse advance at the Chosin Resevoir, when it was so cold men’s toes were falling off from frostbite inside their boots:

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The story of what they accomplished is incredible, worth a book itself.  Here’s Ricks talking about the book and Smith.

A continued challenge for generals is to understand the strategic circumstances they are operating under, and the political limitations that constrain them.

 

031206-F-2828D-373 Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld walks with Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez after arriving at Baghdad International Airport in Iraq on Dec. 6, 2003. Rumsfeld is in Iraq to meet with members of the Coalition Provisional Authority, senior military leaders and the troops deployed there. DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway, U.S. Air Force. (Released)

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Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld walks with Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez after arriving at Baghdad International Airport in Iraq on Dec. 6, 2003. Rumsfeld is in Iraq to meet with members of the Coalition Provisional Authority, senior military leaders and the troops deployed there. DoD photo by Tech. Sgt. Andy Dunaway, U.S. Air Force. (Released) source

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Recommend this book.  One of the best works of military history I’ve ever read, and a sobering reflection on leadership, strategy, and the United States.


Great book, great name

 

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Somehow came across the name Hortense Powerdermaker and I knew I had to have her book. img_9109-1

Some good observations:

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Kiss Kiss Bang Bang:

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How about this?:

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Me, I’m trying to be like Mr. Well Adjusted:

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Perspective worth hearing

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saw this letter to the editor of the Financial Times on somebody’s Twitter.


Fala

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all pics from Wikipedia about Fala and Eleanor

Franklin Roosevelt had a famous dog, a Scottish terrier, named Fala.  I’ve told his story before.  Supposedly Fala got left behind after FDR toured the Aleutian Islands in 1943.  The Republicans accused FDR of sending a Navy destroyer to recover Fala. (Who knows, maybe he did.  And is not loving your dog noble in a president?)

FDR turned the tables on the scandal with this rejoinder:

That was back when you could make a good clean Scottish joke and the nation would love it.

The other day a friend of mine’s mom died.  She was 87.  I’d had maybe eight meals with this woman.

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One story she told me was about having lunch at Eleanor Roosevelt’s house.

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She was in college at Vassar in the early 1950s, and she knew some niece or something of Mrs. Roosevelt.  Eleanor, then a representative at the UN, asked the niece to round up some young people for a luncheon, so there she went.

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She didn’t have much to say about Eleanor, but in her memory Fala sat on her feet under the table.

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Anyway, I thought I would commemorate the passing, perhaps, from living memory of this historic and noble dog.

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Suffering from deafness and failing health, Fala was euthanized on April 5, 1952, two days before his twelfth birthday.


Last minute gift idea?

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Why not buy five copies and give them out to five lucky friends?

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You can buy it on Amazon or at your local indie bookstore.  Looks good in any home:

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I think the gift getter will be touched and delighted!