30 August 2009

Victoria Cross: F. S. Le Quesne

FERDINAND SIMEON LE QUESNE

Surgeon, Medical Staff; Chin Field Force

Born: 25 December 1863, Jersey, Channel Islands
Died: 14 April 1950, Bristol

Citation: Displayed conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during the attack on the village of Tartan [Burma], by a Column of the Chin Field Force, on the 4th May last [1889], in having remained for the space of about ten minutes, in a very exposed position (within five yards of the loop-holed stockade from which the enemy were firing), dressing with perfect coolness and self-possession the wounds from which Second Lieutenant Michel, Norfolk Regiment, shortly afterwards died. Surgeon Le Quesne was himself severely wounded later on whilst attending to the wounds of another Officer.

(London Gazette issue 25988 dated 29 Oct 1889, published 29 Oct 1889.)

Medal of Honor: H. A. Garman

HAROLD ALVA GARMAN

Private, US Army; Company B, 5th Medical Battalion, 5th Infantry Division

Born: 26 February 1918, Fairfield, Illinois
Died: 30 August 1992, Illinois (?)

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On 25 August 1944, in the vicinity of Montereau, France, the enemy was sharply contesting any enlargement of the bridgehead which our forces had established on the northern bank of the Seine River in this sector. Casualties were being evacuated to the southern shore in assault boats paddled by litter bearers from a medical battalion. Pvt. Garman, also a litter bearer in this battalion, was working on the friendly shore carrying the wounded from the boats to waiting ambulances. As 1 boatload of wounded reached midstream, a German machinegun suddenly opened fire upon it from a commanding position on the northern bank 100 yards away. All of the men in the boat immediately took to the water except 1 man who was so badly wounded he could not rise from his litter. Two other patients who were unable to swim because of their wounds clung to the sides of the boat. Seeing the extreme danger of these patients, Pvt. Garman without a moment's hesitation plunged into the Seine. Swimming directly into a hail of machinegun bullets, he rapidly reached the assault boat and then while still under accurately aimed fire towed the boat with great effort to the southern shore. This soldier's moving heroism not only saved the lives of the three patients but so inspired his comrades that additional assault boats were immediately procured and the evacuation of the wounded resumed. Pvt. Garman's great courage and his heroic devotion to the highest tenets of the Medical Corps may be written with great pride in the annals of the corps.

28 August 2009

Medal of Honor to be awarded for Afghanistan

I missed this story last month. ZUI this article (dated 24 Jul 09) from Army Times:
Sgt. 1st Class Jared Monti, who was killed in Afghanistan June 21, 2006, will receive the Medal of Honor for his actions in combat, his father, Paul Monti, told Army Times in a telephone interview Thursday.

*******

Sgt. 1st Class Monti, 30, was assigned to 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, when he was killed in Afghanistan.

He will become the sixth service member to receive the Medal of Honor during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the first soldier to receive the nation’s highest award for valor in Afghanistan. Navy Lt. Michael Murphy is the only other service member to receive the award for actions in Afghanistan.

ZUI also this article from the Catholic News Service:
According to [1SG Gary] Hunsucker, Monti led a group of 15 scouts on a reconnaissance mission in Gowardesh. Hunsucker was in charge of planning the mission, watching back at the base. Monti was in charge of the soldiers.

*******

Hunsucker said Monti and another sergeant fought hard to keep the enemy from advancing. Monti then pulled Pvt. Brian Bradbury to a waiting medevac helicopter. But in the process, he was exposed to enemy fire. An RPG landed close to him, killing him.

When he died, Monti held the rank of staff sergeant, and was promoted to sergeant first class posthumously.

23 August 2009

Victoria Cross: A. W. S. Agar

AUGUSTINE (or AUGUSTUS) WILLINGTON SHELTON AGAR

Lieutenant, Royal Navy; commanding HM Coastal Motor Boat No 4

Born: 4 January 1890, Kandy, Ceylon
Died: 30 December 1968, Alton, Hampshire

Citation: The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Victoria Cross to
Lieutenant Augustine Willington Shelton Agar, R.N.,
in recognition of his conspicuous gallantry, coolness and skill under extremely difficult conditions in action.

[London Gazette issue 31516 dated 22 Aug 1919, published 19 Aug 1919.]


Note: On 17 June 1919, Lieutenant Agar (whose first name is given in most places as Augustus, rather than Augustine) took HM Coastal Motor Boat 4 into the bay at Kronstadt, Russia. Penetrating a destroyer screen, he torpedoed and sank the Russian cruiser Oleg, then escaped under heavy fire. Apparently the paucity of information given in the citation was to protect Agar, as the Bolshevik government of Russia had offered a £5,000 reward for the perpetrator of this attack.
Having shown that Kronstadt could be attacked in this manner, Agar participated in a second attack on the Russian fleet. Seven CMBs took part in this attack, sinking the battleship Andrei Pervozvanny and submarine tender Pamiat Azova, and damaging the battleship Petropavlovsk. Two Victoria Crosses were awarded for this action - to Cmdr C C Dobson DSO and Lieut S G Steele - and Agar was one of four men who received the OBE; seven others received the DSC. (See London Gazette issue 31638, dated 11 Nov 1919.)
Agar was later commanding officer of the heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire when that ship was sunk by Japanese dive bombers in 1942.

Medal of Honor: J. T. Boone

JOEL THOMPSON BOONE

Lieutenant, Medical Corps, US Navy; 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Division, American Expeditionary Force

Born: 2 August 1889, St Clair, Pennsylvania
Died: 2 April 1974, Washington DC

Citation: For extraordinary heroism, conspicuous gallantry, and intrepidity while serving with the 6th Regiment, U.S. Marines, in actual conflict with the enemy [near Vierzy, France, on 19 July 1918]. With absolute disregard for personal safety, ever conscious and mindful of the suffering fallen, Surg. Boone, leaving the shelter of a ravine, went forward onto the open field where there was no protection and despite the extreme enemy fire of all calibers, through a heavy mist of gas, applied dressings and first aid to wounded marines. This occurred southeast of Vierzy, near the cemetery, and on the road south from that town. When the dressings and supplies had been exhausted, he went through a heavy barrage of large-caliber shells, both high explosive and gas, to replenish these supplies, returning quickly with a sidecar load, and administered them in saving the lives of the wounded. A second trip, under the same conditions and for the same purpose, was made by Surg. Boone later that day.


Note: Boone retired from active duty as a Vice Admiral in 1950. USS Boone (FFG 28) was named in his honour.

16 August 2009

Victoria Cross: P. H. Cherry

PERCY HERBERT CHERRY MC

Captain, 26th Infantry Battalion, Australian Imperial Force

Born: 4 June 1895, Drysdale, Victoria, Australia
Died: 27 March 1917, near Lagnicourt, France

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery, determination and leadership when in command of a company detailed to storm and clear a village [on 26 March 1917].
After all the officers of his company had become casualties he carried on with care and determination, in the face of fierce opposition, and cleared the village of the enemy.
He sent frequent reports of progress made, and when held up for some time by an enemy strong point he organised machine gun and bomb parties and captured the position. His leadership, coolness and bravery set a wonderful example to his men.
Having cleared the village, he took charge of the situation and beat off the most resolute and heavy counter-attacks made by the enemy.
Wounded about 6.30 a.m., he refused to leave his post, and there remained, encouraging all to hold out at all costs, until, about 4.30 p.m., this very gallant officer was killed by an enemy shell.

[London Gazette issue 30064 dtd 11 May 1917, published 11 May 1917.]

Amendment.
Capt. Percy Herbert Cherry, V.C., M.C., late Aus. Imp. Force, is now correctly described.
The rank was incorrectly stated [as 2nd Lt. (temp. Capt.)] on page 4587 of the Gazette dated 11th May 1917.

[London Gazette issue 30104 dtd 31 May 1917, published 29 May 1917.]

Medal of Honor: P. R. Vaughn

PINKERTON R VAUGHN

Sergeant, US Marine Corps; USS Mississippi

Born: 1839, Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Died: 22 August 1866

Citation: Serving on board the [sidewheel steamer] U.S.S. Mississippi during her abandonment and firing in the action with the Port Hudson batteries, 14 March 1863. During the abandonment of the Mississippi which had to be grounded, Sgt. Vaughn rendered invaluable assistance to his commanding officer, remaining with the ship until all the crew had landed and the ship had been fired to prevent its falling into enemy hands. Persistent until the last, and conspicuously cool under the heavy shellfire, Sgt. Vaughn was finally ordered to save himself as he saw fit.

11 August 2009

Newbery Medal books

I finished reading the last of the John Newbery Medal winners the other day.

In March of '07, I took a look at a list of the 86 winners (now 88) of the medal, which is presented annually to the author of "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children" (ie, the "best" new children's/YA book published in the US during the preceding year). I was quite surprised to discover that I had only read seven of the books, and that the newest of those seven was forty years old. The seven were:
The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (the 1923 winner, by Hugh Lofting)
Rabbit Hill (1945, Robert Lawson)
Strawberry Girl (1946, Lois Lenski)
The Twenty-One Balloons (1948, William Pène du Bois)
A Wrinkle in Time (1963, Madeleine L'Engle)
It's Like This, Cat (1964, Emily Neville)
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler (1968, E L Konigsburg)
So I began reading my way through the list. They're a very mixed bag. The first winner, The Story of Mankind (1922, Hendrik Willem van Loon) is a history of the world*. There are four biographies (of Louisa May Alcott, Daniel Boone, Amos Fortune and Abraham Lincoln), two books of poetry, and a book of short "plays" that might as well be poetry. There's a lot of historical fiction, ranging from mediaeval England (Adam of the Road, The Door in the Wall) to the American Revolution (Johnny Tremain) to the USCW (Rifles for Watie) to 12th-century Korea (A Single Shard) to 17th-century Spain (I, Juan de Pareja) to WWII Denmark (Number the Stars). There's a bit of fantasy, both high fantasy like The Hero and the Crown and modern-world-with-magic stuff like The Grey King, and I think A Wrinkle in Time is normally classified as science fiction. And, of course, there are plenty of "regular" books like Thimble Summer, Miracles on Maple Hill, Criss Cross and It's Like This, Cat.

Some of them called for a bit of extra reading: Dicey's Song (1983, Cynthia Voigt), for instance, was the second in a series, The High King (1969, Lloyd Alexander) was the fifth, and The Grey King (1976, Susan Cooper) was the fourth, and I figured they'd make a little more sense to me if I read the preceding books first.

As could be expected, there were some I liked and others I disliked. My favourites (in order of publication) were:


Rabbit Hill (1945, Robert Lawson)
Miracles on Maple Hill (1957, Virginia Sorensen)
Onion John (1960, Joseph Krumgold)
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler (1968, E L Konigsburg)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1977, Mildred D Taylor)
The Westing Game (1979, Ellen Raskin)
Dicey's Song (1983, Cynthia Voigt)
Number the Stars (1990, Lois Lowry)
Maniac Magee (1991, Jerry Spinelli)
Walk Two Moons (1995, Sharon Creech)
The Graveyard Book (2009, Neil Gaiman)


It's hard to name a single, number-one favourite, but Dicey's Song may be the one - I enjoyed it and its prequel, Homecoming, so much that I went on to read three other books in the series. On the other hand, I've read Frankweiler several times through the years....

The ones I really didn't care for were (same order):
Smoky, the Cowhorse (1927, Will James)
Dobry (1935, Monica Shannon)
The White Stag (1938, Kate Seredy)
Secret of the Andes (1953, Ann Nolan Clark)
The Bronze Bow (1962, Elizabeth George Speare)
Out of the Dust (1998, Karen Hesse)
Kira-Kira (2005, Cynthia Kadohata)

Fortunately, there were more books in the first group than the second! Smoky, the Cowhorse is just what the title implies: A book about a cow pony. Not a bad story overall, but the book is written in dialect. Not just the dialogue - the whole bloody book! A little of that goes a long, long way indeed.

Dobry is about a Bulgarian peasant boy who wants to become a sculptor. Kira-Kira is about a Japanese family - two girls and their parents - living in rural Georgia in the 1950s. In both cases, I couldn't really develop an interest in either the protagonists or their situation.

The White Stag is apparently based on Hungarian legend. I can't really say why I didn't care for it; I just didn't.

Secret of the Andes is about a young boy raised high in the mountains as a heir to the Incas. I thought this one was just plain boring. Extremely boring. Ditto The Bronze Bow, which is about a band of Jewish rebels in early first-century Judaea.

Out of the Dust is about a family in Dust Bowl Oklahoma. The mother and her baby die as the result of a rather horrible accident, leaving the daughter and her father to try to keep the family farm going. This could have been a very good book - both the plot and the characters were interesting - but unfortunately Hesse wrote the story not as a novel, but as a series of poems. I'm not all that big on poetry to begin with, and when I do I want both rhyme and metre. Blank verse just doesn't do a thing for me.

I'm somewhat ambivalent about A Wrinkle in Time - I really enjoyed it when I first read it, back in fourth grade**, but when I tried rereading it a few years ago I couldn't finish it. It's one of the two books I'd read before that I haven't reread yet this year; we'll see what I think of it this time round.

I couldn't make up my mind if I liked Criss Cross (2006, Lynne Rae Perkins) or not. My 13-year-old daughter agrees with me that it is a very peculiar story.

Here's the complete list:
1922: The Story of Mankind, by Hendrik Willem van Loon
1923: The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, by Hugh Lofting
1924: The Dark Frigate, by Charles Hawes
1925: Tales from Silver Lands, by Charles J Finger
1926: Shen of the Sea, by Arthur Bowie Chrisman
1927: Smoky, the Cowhorse, by Will James
1928: Gay Neck, the Story of a Pigeon, by Dhan Gopal Mukerji
1929: The Trumpeter of Krakow, by Eric P. Kelly
1930: Hitty, Her First Hundred Years, by Rachel Field
1931: The Cat Who Went to Heaven, by Elizabeth Coatsworth
1932: Waterless Mountain, by Laura Adams Armer
1933: Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze, by Elizabeth Lewis
1934: Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women, by Cornelia Meigs
1935: Dobry, by Monica Shannon
1936: Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink
1937: Roller Skates, by Ruth Sawyer
1938: The White Stag, by Kate Seredy
1939: Thimble Summer, by Elizabeth Enright
1940: Daniel Boone, by James Daugherty
1941: Call It Courage, by Armstrong Sperry
1942: The Matchlock Gun, by Walter Edmonds
1943: Adam of the Road, by Elizabeth Janet Gray
1944: Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes
1945: Rabbit Hill, by Robert Lawson
1946: Strawberry Girl, by Lois Lenski
1947: Miss Hickory, by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
1948: The Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pène du Bois
1949: King of the Wind, by Marguerite Henry
1950: The Door in the Wall, by Marguerite de Angeli
1951: Amos Fortune, Free Man, by Elizabeth Yates
1952: Ginger Pye, by Eleanor Estes
1953: Secret of the Andes, by Ann Nolan Clark
1954: ...And Now Miguel, by Joseph Krumgold
1955: The Wheel on the School, by Meindert DeJong
1956: Carry On, Mr Bowditch, by Jean Lee Latham
1957: Miracles on Maple Hill, by Virginia Sorensen
1958: Rifles for Watie, by Harold Keith
1959: The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare
1960: Onion John, by Joseph Krumgold
1961: Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O'Dell
1962: The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare
1963: A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle
1964: It's Like This, Cat, by Emily Neville
1965: Shadow of a Bull, by Maia Wojciechowska
1966: I, Juan de Pareja, by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino
1967: Up a Road Slowly, by Irene Hunt
1968: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler, by E L Konigsburg
1969: The High King, by Lloyd Alexander
1970: Sounder, by William H Armstrong
1971: The Summer of the Swans, by Betsy Byars
1972: Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C O'Brien
1973: Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
1974: The Slave Dancer, by Paula Fox
1975: M C Higgins, the Great, by Virginia Hamilton
1976: The Grey King, by Susan Cooper
1977: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D Taylor
1978: Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
1979: The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin
1980: A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-1832, by Joan W Blos
1981: Jacob Have I Loved, by Katherine Paterson
1982: A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers, by Nancy Willard
1983: Dicey's Song, by Cynthia Voigt
1984: Dear Mr Henshaw, by Beverly Cleary
1985: The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley
1986: Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan
1987: The Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleischman
1988: Lincoln: A Photobiography, by Russell Freedman
1989: Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices, by Paul Fleischman
1990: Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry
1991: Maniac Magee, by Jerry Spinelli
1992: Shiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
1993: Missing May, by Cynthia Rylant
1994: The Giver, by Lois Lowry
1995: Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech
1996: The Midwife's Apprentice, by Karen Cushman
1997: The View from Saturday, by E L Konigsburg
1998: Out of the Dust, by Karen Hesse
1999: Holes, by Louis Sachar
2000: Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis
2001: A Year Down Yonder, by Richard Peck
2002: A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park
2003: Crispin: The Cross of Lead, by Avi
2004: The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread, by Kate DiCamillo
2005: Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata
2006: Criss Cross, by Lynne Rae Perkins
2007: The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron, illustrated by Matt Phelan
2008: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village, by Laura Amy Schlitz
2009: The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

As you can see, a few fortunate writers have won the medal twice: Joseph Krumgold (1954 and 1960), Elizabeth George Speare (1959, 1962), E L Konigsburg (1968, 1997), Katherine Paterson (1978, 1981) and Lois Lowry (1990, 1994). Sharon Creech is the only author thus far to receive both the Newbery Medal (1995) and its British equivalent, the Carnegie Medal (2002, for Ruby Holler).

Wendy Burton, at Six Boxes of Books, finished reading all of the Newbery winners last year. Her three-part commentary can be found here, here and here. The Newbery Project has reviews of all 88 books, written by various contributors to the blog.

Note: Amazon links are provided for reference, and to let you read other people's reviews of the books. As always, buying from your local independent bookstore is encouraged. Daniel Boone, I think, is the only Newbery winner not still in print, and I had no trouble obtaining it by ILL.


* There's a movie!
** Three cheers for Scholastic books and their in-school orders.

09 August 2009

Victoria Cross: F. Konowal

FILIP KONOWAL

Acting Corporal, 47th Battalion, British Columbia Regiment, Canadian Expeditionary Force

Born: 15 September 1888, Podolsky, Ukraine, Russia
Died: 3 June 1959, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Citation: For most conspicuous bravery and leadership [during the period 22nd to 24th August 1917] when in charge of a section in attack [at Lens, France]. His section had the difficult task of mopping up cellars, craters and machine-gun emplacements. Under his able direction all resistance was overcome successfully, and heavy casualties inflicted on the enemy. In one cellar he himself bayonetted three enemy and attacked single-handed seven others in a crater, killing them all.
On reaching the objective, a machine-gun was holding up the right flank, causing many casualties. Cpl. Konowal rushed forward and entered the emplacement, killed the crew, and brought the gun back to our lines.
The next day he again attacked single-handed another machine-gun emplacement, killed three of the crew, and destroyed the gun and emplacement with explosives.
This non-commissioned officer alone killed at least sixteen of the enemy, and during the two days' actual fighting carried on continuously his good work until severely wounded.

(London Gazette Issue 30400 dated 26 Nov 1917, published 23 Nov 1917.)

Medal of Honor: P. M. Guenette

PETER M GUENETTE

Specialist Fourth Class, US Army; Company D, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile)

Born: 4 January 1948, Troy, New York
Died: 18 May 1968, Quan Tan Uyen Province, Republic of Vietnam

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp4c. Guenette distinguished himself while serving as a machine gunner with Company D, during combat operations [in Quan Tan Uyen Province, Republic of Vietnam, on 18 May 1968]. While Sp4c. Guenette's platoon was sweeping a suspected enemy base camp, it came under light harassing fire from a well equipped and firmly entrenched squad of North Vietnamese Army regulars which was serving as a delaying force at the entrance to their base camp. As the platoon moved within 10 meters of the fortified positions, the enemy fire became intense. Sp4c. Guenette and his assistant gunner immediately began to provide a base of suppressive fire, ceasing momentarily to allow the assistant gunner time to throw a grenade into a bunker. Seconds later, an enemy grenade was thrown to Sp4c. Guenette's right flank. Realizing that the grenade would kill or wound at least 4 men and destroy the machine gun, he shouted a warning and smothered the grenade with his body, absorbing its blast. Through his actions, he prevented loss of life or injury to at least 3 men and enabled his comrades to maintain their fire superiority. By his gallantry at the cost of his life in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, Sp4c. Guenette has reflected great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.

07 August 2009

FY10 MCPO and SCPO lists












The other day I posted a link to the US Navy's FY10 CPO advancement results. Looking back, though, I realised that I hadn't seen the new MCPO and SCPO lists. So....

The MCPO list is here. I see three names I recognise - a TM weapons MM and two mechanics, all from Providence.

The SCPO list is here. I only see one on this list - a nuc ET, again from Prov.

Belated congratulations to all selectees!

Book-banning, new American style

ZUI this article, by Walter Olson, at City Journal:
It’s hard to believe, but true: under a law Congress passed last year aimed at regulating hazards in children’s products, the federal government has now advised that children’s books published before 1985 should not be considered safe and may in many cases be unlawful to sell or distribute. Merchants, thrift stores, and booksellers may be at risk if they sell older volumes, or even give them away, without first subjecting them to testing—at prohibitive expense. Many used-book sellers, consignment stores, Goodwill outlets, and the like have accordingly begun to refuse new donations of pre-1985 volumes, yank existing ones off their shelves, and in some cases discard them en masse.

The problem is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), passed by Congress last summer after the panic over lead paint on toys from China. Among its other provisions, CPSIA imposed tough new limits on lead in any products intended for use by children aged 12 or under, and made those limits retroactive: that is, goods manufactured before the law passed cannot be sold on the used market (even in garage sales or on eBay) if they don’t conform. The law has hit thrift stores particularly hard, since many children’s products have long included lead-containing (if harmless) components: zippers, snaps, and clasps on garments and backpacks; skateboards, bicycles, and countless other products containing metal alloy; rhinestones and beads in decorations; and so forth. Combine this measure with a new ban (also retroactive) on playthings and child-care articles that contain plastic-softening chemicals known as phthalates, and suddenly tens of millions of commonly encountered children’s items have become unlawful to resell, presumably destined for landfills when their owners discard them. Penalties under the law are strict and can include $100,000 fines and prison time, regardless of whether any child is harmed.

*******

A further question is what to do about public libraries, which daily expose children under 12 to pre-1985 editions of Anne of Green Gables, Beatrix Potter, Baden-Powell’s scouting guides, and other deadly hazards. The blogger Design Loft carefully examines some of the costs of CPSIA-proofing pre-1985 library holdings; they are, not surprisingly, utterly prohibitive. The American Library Association spent months warning about the law’s implications, but its concerns fell on deaf ears in Congress (which, in this week’s stimulus bill, refused to consider an amendment by Republican senator Jim DeMint to reform CPSIA). The ALA now apparently intends to take the position that the law does not apply to libraries unless it hears otherwise. One can hardly blame it for this stance, but it’s far from clear that it will prevail. For one thing, the law bans the “distribution” of forbidden items, whether or not for profit. In addition, most libraries regularly raise money through book sales, and will now need to consider excluding older children’s titles from those sales. One CPSC commissioner, Thomas Moore, has already called for libraries to “sequester” some undefinedly large fraction of pre-1985 books until more is known about their risks.

This is a REALLY bad idea....

H/T to Tam.

Newbery Medal books

Back in March of '07, I finally (at the age of 52) took a close look at the complete list of winners of the John Newbery Medal, awarded each year since 1922 to the author of "the most distinguished American children's book published the previous year." At the time, there were 86 books on the list, and I discovered that I had only read seven of them - the newest of said seven being forty years old. So I started reading....

The winner is announced in January, so there are now 88 books on the list. A few days ago I finished reading The Grey King (the 1976 winner, by Susan Cooper), which brought my total up to 87. And there I was temporarily stuck, because none of the three libraries in our local library system holds a copy of the 88th book. I put in an ILL request last week, and waited to see if it would work.

And now I have, here on the table beside me, a copy of the 1940 winner - Daniel Boone, by James Daugherty. By the time I go to bed tonight, I expect to have finally finished reading all of the Newbery Medal books.

My thanks to the staff of the Beeghly Library, at Heidelberg College, Tiffin OH, whence this copy came!

Numbers

A little before 12:35 this afternoon, the time will be

1234:56 07/08/09

Which won't happen again in our lifetime....

04 August 2009

FY10 CPO selectees

The list is out.

I recognised two names this time, an EM and a TM an MMW from Prov. My congratulations to them, and to all the other selectees.

02 August 2009

Victoria Cross: R. G. Scott and P. Brown

ROBERT GEORGE SCOTT

Sergeant, Cape Mounted Riflemen

Born: 22 April 1857, Peterborough
Died: 3 October 1918, Wynberg, South Africa

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and devotion during an attack on Moirosi's Mountain, on the 8th April, 1879, in volunteering to throw time fuze shells, as hand grenades, over a line of stone barricades, from behind which, the enemy were bringing a heavy fire to bear on the Colonial Troops, and which it was impossible effectually to return.
After causing all the men of his party to retire under cover, lest the shell should burst prematurely,--by which precaution many lives were in all probability saved--Sergeant Scott advanced in a most deliberate manner under a heavy fire, and, having got under the wall, made two attempts to throw shells over it. At the second attempt, owing to some defect in the fuze, which he had just lighted, the shell exploded almost in Sergeant Scott's hands, blowing his right hand to pieces, and wounding him severely in the left leg.

[London Gazette issue 24887 dtd 1 Oct 1880, published 1 Oct 1880.]


PETER BROWN

Trooper, Cape Mounted Riflemen

Born: December 1862, Sweden
Died: 11 September 1894, Cape Town, South Africa

Citation: Trooper Peter Brown, during the assault on Moirosi's Mountain on 8th April, 1879, whilst lying under cover waiting for the order to re-commence the advance, heard two men, who had been wounded some time before, crying out for water. Trooper Brown carried a water-bottle to these men, under a heavy fire, to an adjacent rock to which they had crept for shelter. Whilst giving the first man water he was wounded severely in the right thigh, and immediately afterwards a bullet shattered his right arm, the use of which he has never recovered.

[London Gazette issue 24833 dtd 13 Apr 1880, published 13 Apr 1880.]


Note: Moirosi's (or Morosi's) Mountain is in Lesotho, which at the time was called Basutoland.

Medal of Honor: T. R. Norris and M. E. Thornton

THOMAS R NORRIS

Lieutenant, US Navy; Strategic Technical Directorate Assistance Team, Headquarters, US Military Assistance Command.

Born: 14 January 1944, Jacksonville, Florida
Died: TBD

Citation: Lt. Norris completed an unprecedented ground rescue of 2 downed pilots deep within heavily controlled enemy territory in Quang Tri Province. Lt. Norris, on the night of 10 April [1972], led a 5-man patrol through 2,000 meters of heavily controlled enemy territory, located 1 of the downed pilots at daybreak, and returned to the Forward Operating Base (FOB). On 11 April, after a devastating mortar and rocket attack on the small FOB, Lt. Norris led a 3-man team on 2 unsuccessful rescue attempts for the second pilot. On the afternoon of the 12th, a forward air controller located the pilot and notified Lt. Norris. Dressed in fishermen disguises and using a sampan, Lt. Norris and 1 Vietnamese traveled throughout that night and found the injured pilot at dawn. Covering the pilot with bamboo and vegetation, they began the return journey, successfully evading a North Vietnamese patrol. Approaching the FOB, they came under heavy machinegun fire. Lt. Norris called in an air strike which provided suppression fire and a smoke screen, allowing the rescue party to reach the FOB. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, undaunted courage, and selfless dedication in the face of extreme danger, Lt. Norris enhanced the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.


MICHAEL EDWIN THORNTON

Engineman Second Class, US Navy; Navy Advisory Group

Born: 23 March 1949, Greenville, South Carolina
Died: TBD

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while participating in a daring operation against enemy forces [on 31 October 1972]. PO Thornton, as Assistant U.S. Navy Advisor, along with a U.S. Navy lieutenant serving as Senior Advisor, accompanied a 3-man Vietnamese Navy SEAL patrol on an intelligence gathering and prisoner capture operation against an enemy-occupied naval river base. Launched from a Vietnamese Navy junk in a rubber boat, the patrol reached land and was continuing on foot toward its objective when it suddenly came under heavy fire from a numerically superior force. The patrol called in naval gunfire support and then engaged the enemy in a fierce firefight, accounting for many enemy casualties before moving back to the waterline to prevent encirclement. Upon learning that the Senior Advisor had been hit by enemy fire and was believed to be dead, PO Thornton returned through a hail of fire to the lieutenant's last position; quickly disposed of 2 enemy soldiers about to overrun the position, and succeeded in removing the seriously wounded and unconscious Senior Naval Advisor to the water's edge. He then inflated the lieutenant's lifejacket and towed him seaward for approximately 2 hours until picked up by support craft. By his extraordinary courage and perseverance, PO Thornton was directly responsible for saving the life of his superior officer and enabling the safe extraction of all patrol members, thereby upholding the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.


Note: The unnamed lieutenant whom EN2 Thornton rescued was Lt Norris.

01 August 2009

Book list - Jul 09

The Book of the Lion - YA historical fiction, by Michael Cadnum
The High King - children's fantasy, by Lloyd Alexander (Newbery Medal, 1969)
The Leopard Sword - YA historical fiction, by Michael Cadnum
Gettysburg: The Final Fury - USCW, by Bruce Catton
Irish Red - children's, by Jim Kjelgaard
Bog Child - YA, by Siobhan Dowd (Carnegie Medal, 2009)
Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam - USCW, by James M McPherson
Rabbit Hill - children's, by Robert Lawson (Newbery Medal, 1945) *
Willie Bea and the Time the Martians Landed - children's, by Virginia Hamilton
M C Higgins, the Great - children's, by Virginia Hamilton (Newbery Medal, 1975)
Killer Pizza - children's, by Greg Taylor
Jake Ransom and the Skull King's Shadow - children's, by James Rollins
Outlaw Red - children's, by Jim Kjelgaard
King of the Wind - children's, by Marguerite Henry (Newbery Medal, 1949)
The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle - children's, by Hugh Lofting (Newbery Medal, 1923) *
The Turnabout Trick - children's, by Scott Corbett
The Black Mask Trick - children's, by Scott Corbett
The Hangman's Ghost Trick - children's, by Scott Corbett
Magic by the Book - children's modern fantasy, by Nina Bernstein
The Silver Sword (aka Escape from Warsaw) - children's WWII fiction, by Ian Serraillier *
The Twenty-One Balloons - children's, by William Pène du Bois (Newbery Medal, 1948) *
Over Sea, Under Stone - children's modern fantasy, by Susan Cooper *
Prairie School - children's, by Lois Lenski
It's Like This, Cat - children's, by Emily Neville (Newbery Medal, 1964) *
The Dark is Rising - children's modern fantasy, by Susan Cooper
Greenwitch - YA modern fantasy, by Susan Cooper
Winter of Magic's Return - fantasy, by Pamela F Service


27 books this month, with six rereads (marked by asterisks). To reach my goal of 209 books this year, I have to average 17.417 per month; I'm currently still behind track, but catching up.

The one Carnegie Medal winner this month brings me up to 17 of 70. I've now read 86 of the 88 Newbery Medal winners; I've started the 87th, and have an ILL request in for the last one. In the meantime, I'm rereading the seven that I had read before I started this current programme; unfortunately, the library's copy of The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle is an "updated" copy, edited for political correctness. (The original was written in 1922, and of course reflected 1920s racial stereotypes.)