Thursday, September 8, 2016

September 8, 2016 -- A Quick Run Around the Web

Source: "Sunken rollercoasters, disused trains and ruined luxury hotels: Haunting images capture fascinating abandoned sites around the globe"--Daily Mail. The description for this particular photograph reads: "This vast, dramatic building in Warsaw was once the Wola gasworks, which first opened in 1888, destroyed during the second world war, then rebuilt. It finally closed in the early 1970s when the city switched to using natural gas. Today, part of the site is a museum, but other areas, such as the rotunda pictured, remain dilapidated." Lots of other photographs at the link.

  • "Is the age of the Bayonet over? An example through the Marines of 1/1"--The Firearms Blog. The author argues that the era of using or even needing a bayonet is over, based on its general lack of use. He notes that the last American bayonet charge was in 1951 in the Korean conflict. He also notes that although the British have used bayonets a couple times, the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan did not require it because engagements were often at hundreds of meters. The author acknowledges that bayonets might be useful if one ran out of ammunition, but that "there has very rarely ever been a U.S. force that has gotten low on ammunition in OIF/OEF and could not have been resupplied."
I'm going to have to be a bit of a naysayer on this. Bayonets were definitely a credible weapon in the days of muzzle-loaded weapons (e.g., the Battle of Bunker Hill, which was essentially lost because the Revolutionary troops lacked bayonets). Where we see arguments concerning their use begins with World War I. There was quite a bit of debate after the war concerning the efficacy of the bayonet because statistics showed that there were very few casualties brought to aid stations or hospitals with bayonet wounds. The conclusion drawn was that the lack of bayoneted casualties was because bayonets were hardly ever used. The same reasoning applied to studies of wounding in World War II. 
There were some dissenting voices, however, that argued that the discrepancy was because bayonet wounds were so grievous that most of the victims died, and therefore the lack of wounded is because so few survived such an attack.  
I have to say that the more I have read personal accounts from those two conflicts, the more I tend to agree with the latter position. The reason I do so is the frequent mention of men killed by bayonets in the personal accounts of soldiers during trench raids in World War I, or in the accounts of German soldiers that survived the D-Day landings
I would guess that bayonets would see more use in close quarter combat today if (a) the soldiers had serviceable bayonets instead of the puny knives that are generally issued (it is notable that although bayonets once sported blades well over a foot long, most today have blades of only 5 or 6 inches) and (b) were more familiar and comfortable using the weapon. Also, just because the conflicts an Afghanistan and Iraq did not see American troops unable to be resupplied with ammunition, or engagements were primarily at longer distances, does not mean that in some future war, there might not be fighting among thick hedgerows, pillboxes, or the ruins of buildings (a la, the Battle of Stalingrad), or that the United States will enjoy the air superiority allowing troops to be resupplied wherever they might be. I'm not calling for a return to bayonet charges, but suggesting that bayonet training and the provision of a decent bayonet should not be abandoned.   
  • "The deadliest bug: DNA confirms identity of bacteria behind London's Great Plague in the 17th Century"--Daily Mail. According to the article, DNA analysis of victims found in a mass grave found traces of the bubonic plague bacteria Yersinia pestis. I don't think that it has ever been seriously disputed that the London plague was bubonic plague as the recorded symptoms matched that of more modern outbreaks of plague. The question has always been earlier outbreaks which were much more aggressive. For instance, while the spread of the London Plague could be averaged out to mere feet per day, the spread of the Black Plague averaged out to miles per day, and the victims were much more likely to die. The real issue is to why the difference in virulence, which is still disputed. Were survivors of the series of plagues that struck Europe between 1300 and 1700 simply more immune to plague, did y. pestis evolve to be less lethal, or where there different strains?
  • Bad translation or Freudian slip? "'Germany Will Remain Germany'"--The Atlantic. Chancellor Merkel is reported to have addressed concerns of the mass influx of immigrants from the Middle East and Africa by assuring Germans that "Germany will remain Germany." I don't think that the average German is worried that Germany will cease to exist as a political entity, as much as he or she is concerned about the survival of the German culture and people. To address the latter concern, Merkel should have been assuring that "Germany will remain German," but, tellingly, she did not.
  • Related: "Globalism: The Religion of Empire"--The American Thinker. The key point: "The Christian vision sees the Church universal as God’s kingdom ruling the earth. The religion of globalism sees an earthly, utopian world order in which all men pay allegiance to elite priests who rule over a World City without national borders." The purpose of globalism is to reduce the individual to a fungible economic unit.

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