Our bozos in Washington have likely failed basic math in their schooling.
I don’t believe these numbers are 100%accurate – certainly not in the trillions or bazillions or whatever that number is called. But they will serve to get the message across. (I received something like this in our 100% believable emails but I played with the formatting a bit.)
The numbers are so gigantic, I thought this would put our country’s budget woes into more of an understandable mindset:
First, our country’s:
Next, let’s just remove NINE zeros and pretend it is a household budget:
Really isn’t that difficult to understand, is it?
More importantly, who’s gonna pay the debt off? I’m sure you can guess better than our elected idiots.
All familiar names to us with a common thread – they helped create the lore of the rough and tough cowboy.
Killing eight bad guys with their Colt .45 six-shooters. Without reloading. Bullets would glance off them as if they were slickered with the world’s supply of Vaseline.
Make that a non-stick coating.
With that, let’s get into the lore – and the truths – of the samurai.
Yes, Japan had their John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and Kirk Douglas creating the samurai lore. Not to bore you with the names of key Japanese actors portraying samurai, but Toshiro Mifune is their John Wayne. You may have seen him playing Lord Toranaga in the 1980 TV mini-series “Shogun” opposite Richard Chamberlain.
Let’s give you a taste of the movie “lore” created in Japan. This compilation is of “Zatoichi” (座頭一), a blind swordsman of all things. He is portrayed by Katsu Shintaro, another famous actor. Think of him as Sean Connery in a series of films; instead of James Bond, it is Zatoichi.
His character is a very entertaining combination of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and Jackie Chan, all rolled into one fantasy character. The lore. No need to watch the entire thing, of course; its intent is to expose you to the samurai lore.
In these fictional fight sequences (What am I saying? It’s a movie!), Zatoichi slays up to 40 bad guys with his one sword, i.e., eight guys with a six shooter.
Incorrect. More like 20 bad guys with a six-shooter.
Yes, Zatoichi is smothered in Japan’s supply of Vaseline…and there is no guard (tsuba 鍔) on the sword to protect his pinky.
Anyways, I’m sure you have a flavor of the samurai lore by now.
Did any of you watch the entire clip? Better than the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (which really didn’t happen in the O.K. Corral, by the way)?
Let’s begin the first OMG Samurai Truth with a simple question based on Western culture:
When Colt made a six shooter, how did they test its accuracy? After all, no cowboy would want to aim at a bad guy and have it miss by a couple of feet when it counted. Only Bob Hope.
They test fired the pistol, of course. Likely at a target with a bulls-eye.
And its resulting level of accuracy also made for higher selling prices. They would be prized possessions.
Well, second question: how did the samurai know his samurai sword, or “katana” (刀) was sharp?
Jabbing a bulls-eye would be unthinkable. Where’s the fun?
They would test the katana out on an executed criminal.
Cut off a limb. Perhaps an arm or a leg.
Well, that’s mostly true.
If a samurai was of high enough ranking (perhaps one of my samurai ancestors), he can pay……for a live one.
While the “lore” varies, there is one documented story – but who knows? The story is a criminal was being taken to his execution when he spied a high ranking samurai with a vassal carrying his brand-spanking new katana.
The criminal asked, “Are you going to try out your new katana on me?” to which the samurai replied in the affirmative. The samurai said he would try a slashing diagonal cut on him from the shoulder down.
The soon-to-be executed criminal then replied something to the effect of, “Well, I wish I would have known beforehand as I would have swallowed some stones to dull your blade.”
A grisly first “OMG Samurai Truth”, perhaps, but truth nonetheless. Not lore.
But one thing is for certain: the consequence of execution did not defray criminals from doing their dastardly deeds even in the 1600’s. And they did indeed carry out the sentences. No ACLU.
Stay tuned for more OMG Samurai Truths. More to come.
Husband and I left early. Our car loaded with gifts and food. On our way to his house I said “I bet you he says to wait and he will go upstairs and get his uniform”. The same uniform he has had for decades. The one he has earned the honor to wear. The uniform he treats with respect and care. I expected him to share it with us. Every time I took someone new to see him he would show it to the new person. Like he did with me on my first visit with him and his wife.
In the seat behind me was a stack of special gifts from around the world. Words of thanks and comfort, and well wishes for one of the men who stood between us and hell during World War II.
When I spoke with him yesterday to arrange my visit he said…
To be with his beloved wife Carol…and his comrades who were left behind “on those stinkin’ islands”.
Life is so fleeting. Some people go through a whole lot. Some of us don’t.
Old man Jack was one of the former. I need to find the time to write more of what he experienced as a young man.
So that at least those that read this blog will know…and appreciate.
Old man Jack had his health problems in his last years.
But when he was a young sailor, he had malaria, dysentery…leeches between his toes, all from fighting on those damn islands in the Southwest Pacific during WWII.
And in 2009, he nearly died from a horrid intestinal infection. His abdomen had swollen. Fat Albert would have been jealous.
He was in ICU for a couple of weeks. After they transferred him to an extended care facility, I made it a point to see him every day…even if it was for brief time.
He looked forward to it as did I.
But soon after being transferred, he went into a depression. He wouldn’t eat – especially what he called the “Army slop” they had at his hospice.
Man, he complained about the chow – but his eyes lit up when I (secretly) took him a Mickey D’s burger and fries once in awhile. He’d smack his lips. But I’d make him eat the chow when I didn’t bring him his hamburger and as usual, he’d get pissed. But not really.
One evening, he was really weak. He wouldn’t raise his head off his pillow.
I told him, “Jack… What’s the matter? Haven’t you been eating?”
He never answered the question but he was off in a different world. While he realized I was there, he said to me softly, “Carol came down to see me last night. She sat right here,” gently patting the mattress on his gurney. “She said, ‘Honey, its about time now. I’m waiting for you.'”
Carol was his wife. He loved her greatly. She had passed away eight years before. I think he wanted to be with her.
Well, I pushed him to get better. And he did.
He finally consented to get into a wheel chair a couple of weeks or so later. I can’t exactly remember but it was June of 2009.
Perhaps you can get a flavor of Old Man Jack’s true character although my Blackberry did a lousy job of recording:
Soon after that, in spite of his pissing and moaning (which I loved as it meant he was getting better), I forced him to use his walker:
It was his way of saying, “Get lost,” by the way…but didn’t mean it as usual. He loved the attention.
Old Man Jack was on the road to recovery.
Well, the recovery was short-lived.
He is now with his beloved Carol and eating her wonderful cooking. She cooked things exactly as he wanted.
Hamburger patties burned to a crisp. Scrambled eggs WELL done.
He never complained – as he knew he wouldn’t eat if he did.
Deep down, he knew who was the boss.
I miss you and your hollerin’ and moanin’, Jack.
And I knew you never meant it.
And as sad as I am, I also know you are now free of those horrible nightmares from combat that you endured for 70 years…and that you and Carol are on your second honeymoon.
You deserve no less.
You were a helluva representative of the Greatest Generation.
Samurais did the same thing… Slashed through two dozen other samurai with one sword…at least in the movies.
My mother drummed it into me for the first years of my life – that “my ancestors” were samurai.
And not just plain ol’ run-of-the-mill samurai.
They were 偉い侍.
Okie-dokie. I’ll help. High ranking samurai.
And its true…but flawed.
It gets too complicated so for argument’s sake, I have a second cousin, Toshio. He was adored by both my mother and Aunt Eiko. “Tosh-chan”, as we lovingly called him, was always kind to them through the years. Considering his horrendous working hours common amongst Japanese workers of that time, he still made the effort without complaint. He eventually became a top-notch engineer for Mitsubishi and worked in Cairo and Singapore to name a few places. He lives in Yokohama, Japan.
When I lived in Japan alone for a couple of years as a very young adult, ever faithful Tosh-chan was there again. This time to help me out as well.
As it turns out, and while mom was there with me visiting, he took us to his home village of Fukui, on the Japan Sea side. It was beautiful country and the area still had the ambience of pre-war Japan. We stayed at his parent’s house and were fortunate to meet some of the extended family. The house was typical from that early time – even the abode was outside. And the mosquitoes. Notice the plural? They never went away. The little buggers loved me… After a couple of hours, I was swollen like a Japanese pin cushion.
One day, Toshio drove mom, his mom and me to a very old temple, Zenshouji (全昌寺〒922-0807 Ishikawa Prefecture, Kaga, Daishoji Shinmeicho, １ if you’re curious). It was at least three centuries old and miraculously escaped US Naval bombardments.
We met with the head monk who took us to a room where we waited. We sat with our feet under our hineys; you should try that. Very uncomfortable. And the damn mosquitoes were there.
Then out came the monk with a VERY old notebook for the lack of a better description. It had black front and back covers. It was about three inches thick and quite dusty. It was held together by an old hemp string which bound EQUALLY old rice paper. He opened it up on the tatami flooring.
I wish I took photos of it. But my family (on my mother’s side) does have something similar in appearance. The paper and writing looked like something like this:
The rice paper the history was written on was from the 1600’s… from about the time the Mayflower set sail on her historic voyage putting it into an American mindset (which was AFTER the Native Americans were here, of course). And the writing had some details on “my” samurai ancestors. Unbelievable. Even Joan Rivers would have been speechless.
We then proceeded up a good sized hill accompanied by – you guessed it – the world’s supply of mosquitoes. I would have preferred just one Doutzen Kroes bug me. Was it my Hai Karate cologne?… or my blood infused by twenty years of Oscar Mayer bacon? Whatever it was, I must have smelled scrumptious to them. I was the nectar of the gods to the little buggers.
We climbed. And Tosh-chan pointed out that as we climbed up, the gravestones (called Ohaka) got older. And older. And older. 1900. 1850. 1800. 1750. 1700. 1650… “Fascinating,” as Spock frequently said.
Then, near the top of the hill by a ledge was a line of ohaka. There they were. “My” ancestors. Samurai ancestors. I was standing by their ashes.
The ohaka with the roofs on them mark the resting place of the honorable samurai. (The littler ones mark the resting place of children.) The one Tosh-chan and I are standing next to represents the resting place of a high ranking samurai. All their last names were of the “Shibayama” clan of which my grand-mother was one (my mother’s mother).
According to the family’s understanding, one ancestor was so skilled in swordsmanship that he was appointed the personal instructor to the son of a shogun. I’d have to admit that would be quite an honor back then. Others were feudal lords.
But…….. That is on my mother’s side and even then, half of that as she had her father’s blood in her… although my grandfather was also of samurai heritage. I know very little of grandfather’s side except that he came from the island of Shikoku.
And my father’s family? They were hard-working farmers. NOT samurai. And that’s one-half of ME.
So what does that make me? As mentioned at the beginning, my mother drummed into me my ancestors were samurai. I grew up thinking, “Yeah! I’m samurai!”
Yes, my ancestors were samurai. Noble ones at that. No doubt. But what my mother drummed into me was just a tad flawed to say the least. SOME of my ancestors were samurai.
So I guess John Wayne is more of a samurai than I.
Make that Tom Cruise. He did a much better job portraying one in “The Last Samurai”.
In a future post, you will learn of the true samurai. Not the lore. It is definitely not what you see in Hollywood movies.
But in closing this chapter, here is good ol’ Tosh-chan this past summer when my oldest son Takeshi and I went to Japan.
He helped us once again. Right down to the mosquitoes.
The very short version of his story (which he gave me persmission to share with you) is this:
During WW II he joined the armed forces to defend his country. He boarded a train to cross the entire country. He was by nature the shyest of any man ever born. But there, on the train, was a beautiful girl. He does not know how he came upon the nerve to do so but he found it, the nerve and the courage, to go talk to her. And he talked to her across the country. Literally. And he fell in love with her. And they married.
He trained for two years for specialized duty. And he went to war as part of the 10th Mountain Division.
Gyoza anyone? I guess we call them “dumplings” here in the US of A…
Simple to make.
Tastes great (or at least that’s what my kids say).
And it’s FREEEEE at Chez Mustang.Koji’s! LOL
Ground pork (kurobuta type preferred!)
Napa cabbage or regular cabbage is just as fine
Crushed garlic (raw)
Salt and pepper
Shredded ginger if you like
Chopped water chestnuts if you like
Combine ingredients but do not press. Spoon about a tablespoon of mixture into gyoza skin. Fold. Add a touch of oil to coat bottom of cast iron skillet (non-stick does not work!), medium high heat. Cover, add about 2-3 tablespoons of water to steam. Remove when botton is browned.
Serve with a dipping sauce made of soy sauce, “ra-yu” or chili oil, and Japanese vinegar if you like.
At the time of his surrender to American authorities in 1886, the Apache warrior Geronimo was perhaps the most hated man in the United States.
The infamous war chief was condemned by The New York Times as being the worst kind of savage. And according to one U.S. official, Geronimo was the “greatest mass murderer in American history”.  These claims were not without merit.
During his decades-long insurgency, which was fought first against Mexican settlers and later Americans, the notorious Geronimo and his followers laid waste to entire towns while butchering (and I mean butchering) hundreds, perhaps thousands, of civilians and soldiers alike. Eventually, up to a quarter of the American army would be deployed to the southwestern United States to take part in his capture.
According to an article published this week on the news site The Daily Beast by noted historian Marc Wortman, 19th
But we’ve been “at war” against terrorism – both foreign and now domestic – since 2001. More than 11 years.
But the war against Japan started officially for us on December 7, 1941. We were caught flat-footed.
Yet it was over by August 15, 1945.
Incredible. In 3 years, 8 months, 8 days. How could that have happened so quickly (relatively speaking)? Have you ever thought of this timeline?
Well, I have removed my Kevlar flak vest for all you bloggers who love history – and who are immensely more versed and intelligent than I…or is it me?
Below herein is my “Top Ten” list of the reasons why Japan lost the Pacific War…so quickly.
I’d like to hear your opinions, corrections, or teachings.
Hunting season is open. Rubber bullets are most suitable.
1. Long Range Failure of Pearl Harbor Attack
a. Admiral Nagumo – placed in charge of the attack force by the Japanese Imperial Navy and NOT by Admiral Yamamoto – failed to fully execute the direct orders issued to him by Yamamoto.
b. Attack plans skewed towards sinking of carriers (which were not there). Genda wanted to insure carriers were sent to bottom and therefore be unsalvageable. Because our carriers were not there, pilots overly concentrated on battleships or other less tactically important ships.
c. The ordnance used by the attacking Japanese was inappropriate for sinking battleships. Besides, Pearl Harbor is way to shallow to allow for “sinking to the bottom of the ocean,” so to speak.
d. The first wave of Japanese torpedo bombers – although a complete tactical surprise – was a dismal failure with very few hits.
e. Failed to destroy dry docks and fuel dumps (Hawaii is an island country and had to import all fuel…like Japan). Although there is the fog of battle, Nagumo (overly cautious) did not heed the strong advice from Fuchida who urged a third wave just for such purpose.
f. In light of “e” above, Yamamoto himself had one weakness: he did not see his submarine force has an OFFENSIVE weapon. He failed to deploy them between Pearl Harbor and the West Coast of the US to target supply ships – which would have been carrying fuel, materiel and supplies to rebuild Pearl Harbor.
g. Nearly all ships damaged by the attack were refloated.
h. Insufficient training by Japanese Navy in preparation for attack.
i. Lastly – and for some foolish reason – they attacked on a Sunday morning.
2. Breaking of the Japanese Naval Code and the failure of the Japanese to accept it was broken.
3. 24-hour Repair of USS Yorktown after Coral Sea in Preparation for Battle of Midway.
4. Innovation of US Navy to Use CO2 for Fire Suppression.
a. US Navy would flood fuel tanks on ships with carbon dioxide thereby displacing oxygen before battle.
b. Japanese ships had useless fire suppression systems with fuel right alongside ordnance.
5. Innovation of Rubber-lined Fuel Tanks and Armor Protection for Pilots on US Aircraft
a. “Self-sealing tanks” in wings.
b. Impressive armor shielding for the pilot (especially in the Grumman F6F Hellcat).
c. Japanese planes had neither, leading to insurmountable casualties and easy shoot-downs, i.e., Japanese aircraft would “flame” or disintegrate under withering fire from .50 caliber guns.
6. Battle of Midway
a. Huge tactical gamble by Nimitz in usage of Spruance as task force commander.
b. Tactical decision to launch torpedo planes early on by Spruance. While all but one pilot perished and no torpedoes hit, Mitsubishi Zeroes assigned to combat air patrol were at low altitudes since they shot down the torpedo planes.
c. Dauntless dive bombers (with US fighter cover) were able to dive relatively uncontested and caught Nagumo between launchings with ordnance scattered about.
d. Confusion by Japanese pilots that two US carriers were sunk. In actuality and while eventually sunk, the USS Yorktown had been hit in the first wave but the fires had been put out before the second wave attacked.
e. With the sinking of four Japanese carriers (see Fire Suppression above) and loss of valuable pilots, the Japanese Navy ceased to be an offensive force.
7. Production Might of the US
a. We had eight carriers at time of Pearl Harbor (in the Pacific and the Atlantic) but were down to two after the Battle of Midway.
b. We lost the Wasp, Hornet, Lexington and Yorktown by then.
c. The USS Enterprise was the last operational carrier. The “other” carrier, the USS Langley, was used only for training purposes and was out in the Atlantic.
d. By the time of the invasion of Okinawa in 1945, however, we had over 40 carriers as part of the assault fleet alone.
8. Semi-automatic M1 Garand rifle and the M-2 Flamethrower
a. Japanese military were burdened with reliable but bolt action Arisaka or failure-prone Nambu armaments. (Bolt-action implies the shooter must lower his rifle to load the next round and then re-sight.)
b. The M-1 Garand took an eight-round clip. The round had tremendous stopping power, was rugged and a rifle squad could lay down withering fire with the semi-automatic. The shooter did not have to lower his rifle to load the next round and re-sight.
c. On Iwo Jima and other island battles, the Japanese were rarely seen. As such, the flamethrower was critical for success although accompanied by high mortality rates.
9. The Japanese-American (or “Nisei”) Soldiers in the Top Secret Military Intelligence Service (MIS)
a. MIS secretly accompanied Marines and soldiers for every Pacific Theater amphibious assault or parachuted in with Airborne troops.
b. Nisei’s were the actual soldiers that listened in on Japanese Navy radio transmissions and NOT US Navy personnel. One transmission disclosed details on Admiral Yamamoto’s flight schedule which led to his shootdown.
c. Quickly translated captured major Japanese battle plans for Leyte Gulf (Z-Plan) and allowed for the lop-sided victory at the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot”.
d. The invaluable intel provided by the MIS proved to the (generally unsupportive) top echelon that the Japanese military was near operational collapse in many combat areas.
10. The US Marine Corps
OK. So what about the B-29’s or the atomic bombs/fire bombings? Aren’t they some of the reasons Japan lost the Pacific War?
No. Not in my humble opinion.
Historical facts will show that the B-29s were largely ineffective until the time LeMay unleashed the firebombing campaign on March 9, 1945. The first B-29s were deployed out of India and China in the summer of 1944. For the first missions, about 20% failed to reach their target due largely to mechanical trouble. Of the approximately 80% that made it to target, only a couple of bombs actually hit target. Therefore, ineffective results.
Their engines were also prone to overheating in flight. Criminy.
As for the firebombings/atomic bombings, it is my opinion Japan had already lost the Pacific War due to the ten summarized reasons above. Intelligence obtained by the US Army MIS Nisei’s like my dad’s predecessors support that conclusion. When the Nisei interrogated Japanese prisoners at the front lines, it was clear they were nearly without food, water, medical supplies or ammunition. Their morale was also devastated. For instance, Japanese soldiers that surrendered would say, “We were terrified. For every mortar round we would fire at the Marines, ten rounds would come back.” The Japanese needed to make every round count; the Americans didn’t.
Japanese soldiers – dead, wounded or captured – would have uncensored letters from home on their person. After the Nisei translated those letters on the battlefront, they disclosed that their families, too, were without much food or water…and that morale was extremely low.
So some Greek dude said centuries ago that, “In war, truth is the first casualty.”
Pretty smart. But that applies even today – and certainly during World War II.
We were raised with certain textbooks for our history classes. We believed in them. We had no reason not to.
But the truth is, there are many versions of history. Factual versions. Incorrect versions. Factual versions “edited” by the victors. Factual versions written by the losers. And new versions. And versions to further patriotism.
But there is one thing for sure… Said by one of the most brilliant minds this world has known:
“I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
True stories about World War II – One war. Two Countries. One Family