Friday, October 31, 2014

It's too cold

Blogging has been a little light while I've been recovering from a cold I picked up last weekend. To help fill the void, here's an embedded music video of The Neighbourhood's "Sweater Weather."

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 25

On the afternoon of October 25, 1777, victorious British General John Burgoyne offered surrender terms to General Horatio Gates of the Continental Army. Gates' men would be allowed to return to their homes unmolested, and Gates himself would be free to leave the battlefield and return to his Virginia plantation, provided that he pledged never again to take up arms against the British Crown. Gates accepted Burgoyne's terms, and both he and his army retired from the field, leaving the British in possession of the Hudson valley.

On the morning of October 25, 1897, Kramer Associates President Diego Cortez y Catalán met with Mexican Chief of State Benito Hermión to discuss the memorandum he had received from Russian Foreign Minister Prince Pyotr Sviatopolk-Mirsky. The two men met a second time that evening. Although no record of the meetings was made, Cortez apparently wanted Hermión to send a strongly-worded note to Sviatopolk-Mirsky demanding that K.A.'s rights in the Yukon be respected. However, Hermión was planning to expand into the Caribbean, and he had no interest in what he called "the frozen wastes of the north." As a result, Cortez was unable to get a commitment from Hermión to confront the Russian government.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

All the Young Dudebros

Author John Scalzi is much better than I am at baiting 'Gaters.

Go John go!

Gamergate: Attack of the Douchebros

Two of the core principles here at the Johnny Pez blog are supporting social justice and trying to bump up our meager pageviews, so any time we can combine the two, we will. Longtime readers (assuming there are any) will remember our (unsuccessful) attempt to attract the attention of the online misogyny crowd by invoking the dread name of Rebecca Watson.

Well, if at first you don't succeed, try try again. A phenomenon that's currently making the internet even more terrible than it already was is Gamergate. As Kyle Watson (no relation, AFAIK) notes in this piece at Deadspin, Gamergate is basically a vortex of misogynistic internet gamer trolls who spend their time harrassing women and intimidating various other targets in response to an imaginary grievance. Watson points out that the 'Gaters real grievance is that video game producers, might, possibly, spend slightly less time pandering to the traditional gamer demographic of young white straight guys.

In a way, the Johnny Pez blog is in an ideal position to make a stand against the 'Gaters. It's completely obscure, and thus unlikely to attract their attention in the first place. It doesn't rely on advertising, so it can't be shut down by having its sponsors intimidated. And blogmaster Johnny Pez isn't a woman, so he can't be silenced by online sexual harrassment and rape threats.

If by some remote chance some 'Gaters do manage to find their way here, I'd just like to take this opportunity to point out what utterly worthless sacks of shit they are. They are cowards who hide behind the anonymity afforded by the internet to attack targets they know won't be able to fight back. They are overprivileged crybabies who can't stand the thought of a gaming universe that doesn't revolve around them. Being a white straight guy myself, I can state with total assurance that these assholes not only have no legitimate grievances, it would do them a world of good to suffer through some real adversity and be taken down a peg or three.

Any 'Gaters who wish to respond in comments should be aware that I will delete any that I find to be of no value. And the ones I don't delete, I will relentlessly mock.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 22

On October 22, 1777, the rebel army led by General Horatio Gates was attacked from the rear by General Sir Henry Clinton. When General John Burgoyne's men heard the sounds of battle, they launched their own assault on Gates' men. With two armies attacking them from north and south, Gates and his med fled from Saratoga in a disorganized rout.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 21

On October 21, 1777, General Horatio Gates of the Continental Army attacked the army of British General John Burgoyne in a desperate attempt to avoid being caught between Burgoyne and the approaching army of General Sir Henry Clinton. Despite repeated assaults, the rebel army failed to overrun Burgoyne's position.

On October 21, 1897, Russian Foreign Minister Prince Pyotr Sviatopolk-Mirsky drafted a memorandum in which he claimed that the Alaskan mineral concession he had negotiated with the Mexican corporation Kramer Associates three years before covered only copper, and not the gold that K.A.'s prospectors had discovered the previous year. "Since little or no copper has been discovered in the Yukon region, the mines, when opened, will be controlled by the Imperial government." K.A. would be allowed to operate the mines, "for which the company would, of course, be well-compensated." When K.A. President Diego Cortez y Catalán received the memorandum, he responded by rushing from his office shouting that he had never been treated in such a way before. Cortez immediately telephoned Mexican Chief of State Benito Hermión to request a meeting on October 25.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 19

On October 19, 1839, the combined North American army led by General Winfield Scott entered Michigan City and quickly overran the Indian army of Chief John Miller, then proceeded to execute every member of Miller's army. At the official inquiry held after the battle, Scott stated that he had attempted to restrain his men, but was unsuccessful. Scott's subordinates claimed that he had given an order that no prisoners be taken.

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 18

On October 18, 1839, a combined North American army under the command of General Winfield Scott reached Michigan City, Indiana, which had been captured by the army of Chief John Miller three months earlier.

On October 18, 1886, Mexican Chief of State Benito Hermión began the Isthmian War by declaring war on Guatemala.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 16

In the predawn hours of October 16, 1901, forty-nine members of the Kramer Guard infiltrated the Imperial Palace in Mexico City, overpowered the police stationed there, and opened the gates, allowing some two thousand others to enter, before finally cutting communications with the outside. When Mexican Emperor Benito Hermión woke after dawn, the head of the Kramer Guard, Martin Cole, shouted that the compound was in his hands. Cole said, "We will harm no one who is innocent. All we want is El Jefe. Servants and others may leave in peace, and must do so within the next fifteen minutes." Hermión quickly shaved his beard and mustache and put on a butler's uniform, then left the palace with the servants. While some members of the Kramer Guard tailed Hermión as he fled through the city, Cole entered the palace with the rest and announced the formation of a provisional government that would rule Mexico until elections were held. A group of onlookers who assumed that Cole meant to make himself dictator in Hermión's place raised their fists and shouted "Viva Cole!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 15

On October 15, 1793, the voters of the State of Jefferson ratified the Lafayette Constitution, establishing an elected government for the 43,000 white Anglo settlers and their 18,000 black slaves.

On October 15, 1901, Kramer Associates President Diego Cortez y Catalán launched his coup d'etat against Mexican Emperor Benito Hermión, as two thousand Kramer Guards entered Mexico City disguised as laborers and took up posts around the imperial palace. Inside the palace, the Emperor was hosting a state dinner in honor of Heinz von Kron, the ambassador from the Germanic Confederation.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 14

On October 14, 1835, Barings Bank in London was forced into bankruptcy after becoming overextended in India, the Near East, and France. With the fall of Barings, several other major banks became insolvent, leading to a panic on Lombard Street. In the end, a dozen private and public banks were forced to shut down, and only prompt action by the Bank of England prevented a total financial collapse in Great Britain. The panic also caused the government of Lord Thomas Tillotson to fall.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 12

On October 12, 1929, former Mexican Secretary of State Albert Ullman appeared on the vitavision interview program I Remember, hosted by Miguel Callendra. Ullman and Callendra spoke about former President Emiliano Calles and his two most important initiatives: the 1920 Manumission Act freeing Mexico's slaves, and the 1923 statehood plebiscites for Mexico's client states.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 11

On October 11, 1882, North American Governor-General John McDowell gave the most important speech of his political career in New York City. Known as the Age of Renewal speech, it was intended as a reply to critics who accused McDowell of being nothing more than a political opportunist with no firm convictions. In the speech, McDowell said, "Every North American has the right to hold a job, to a fair wage, to a fair return on his investment, to a decent place in which to live, to security in his home, to the knowledge that his government knows of his needs, and is prepared to help him help himself." He went on to say, ""Few of these goals have been reached, and some may appear impossible of achievement in our lifetime. But we must make the effort. For this reason, I call upon all North Americans to undertake a time of soul-searching, to go into the Wilderness and then return, better prepared and more willing to work for a better nation and world. North America is in the midst of its Age of Renewal, from which it will emerge greater and more powerful than before." As a result of this speech, McDowell's time as governor-general has been known to historians as the Age of Renewal.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 10

On October 10, 1914, the Hundred Day War came to an end when France and the United States of Mexico agreed to an armistice.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Scorpions in a Bottle: Joseph Galloway

For Want of a Nail includes a number of improbable episodes, and one of the most improbable is Joseph Galloway rejoining the Continental Congress in January 1778. After the First Congress adjourned in October 1774, Galloway became a firm Loyalist, denouncing the actions of the Congress in the Pennsylvania Assembly, which he claimed "tended to incite America to sedition, and terminate in Independence." By January 1778, Galloway was running the civil administration of British-occupied Philadelphia under General William Howe. Presumably, Sobel didn't realize how closely aligned with the British Galloway had become.

Nevertheless, it's firmly established in FWoaN that Galloway was back in the Congress by then, so I've got to figure out how it happened. Here's what I've come up with.

* * *

The situation in the winter of 1777-78 was a delicate one. In spite of the defeats suffered by the rebel armies in New York and Pennsylvania, most of the people in the rebellious colonies remained beyond the reach of British authority, which was confined to the middle colonies. Any hint that the North ministry might seek widespread reprisals against the leaders of the independence movement would stiffen the resolve of those leaders to resist a return to British rule. Armed resistance could flare up at any time, leading to a resumption of the fighting and a further hardening of attitudes on both sides.

John Dickinson had always been opposed to independence, and had hoped for reconciliation with Great Britain. Now, with the fortunes of the rebels at low ebb, he saw an opportunity to rebuild the links between America and Britain. The Delaware General Assembly had offered to appoint him to its delegation to the Congress in 1777, but Dickinson had refused. After the defeats at Saratoga-Albany and Germantown, he accepted the appointment, and once in Congress, quickly took charge of the growing moderate faction. He was able to bring them around to his belief that independence had been a mistake, and by January 1778 was ready to execute his master stroke: the return of Joseph Galloway to the Congress.

Galloway had become a staunch Loyalist by the outbreak of the Rebellion in April 1775. When the Continental Congress reconvened in Philadelphia a month later, he declined to serve as a delegate. After the Congress declared American independence and the British captured New York, Galloway left Philadelphia to join General Howe, serving as an informal advisor to the general. Galloway accompanied Howe on his advance on Philadelphia, and after its capture he served Howe as head of the city’s civil government. By the time Dickinson returned to the Congress, Galloway was the most prominent Loyalist in America. [1]

As Dickinson well knew, Galloway’s return to the Congress would be an implicit admission by that body that the Rebellion could not be won, and that a return to British rule was inevitable. By the same token, for Galloway a return to the Congress would be an acknowledgement of the legitimacy of that body, and that its participation would be essential to the reconciliation between colonies and mother country that both men sought. Throughout the months of November and December, the two men exchanged a series of messages in secret working out the details of Dickinson’s proposed invitation, and Galloway’s acceptance of it. On January 9, 1778, the Pennsylvania General Assembly, at Dickinson’s prompting, offered Galloway an appointment as delegate; ten days later, it received his assent. Galloway arrived in York on the 29th and was seated with the rest of the Pennsylvania delegation. [2]

As Dickinson had expected, Galloway’s arrival was the signal for a general exodus of the most radical members of the Congress. Hancock had already resigned from the Congress shortly before the rebel defeats at Saratoga and Germantown. After Galloway’s arrival, the cousins John and Samuel Adams resigned their seats rather than remain in the Congress with him. With his influence at its height, Dickinson proceeded to carry out what has since become his most controversial act: the replacement of Washington as commander of the Continental Army.

Several of Washington’s subordinates, notably Gates, Charles Lee, and Thomas Conway, had long schemed to replace him as overall commander of the rebel army. Dr. Benjamin Rush, who was serving as surgeon-general of Washington’s army, joined in the plotting after the losses at Brandywine and Germantown. Dickinson’s motives in taking up the matter were questioned at the time, and have been ever since. [3] When Henry Laurens, the President of the Congress, learned of Dickinson’s plan, he attempted unsuccessfully to block it, then resigned when it became clear that he would be unable to do so. Dickinson was able to arrange for his ally Charles Carroll to replace Laurens, and his plan to restructure the leadership of the Continental Army was passed on February 13.

Under Dickinson’s plan, command of the Continental Army would be assumed by a revamped Board of War, a committee of the Congress that had been established in June 1776 to oversee military matters. A message was sent to Washington the next day summoning him to York to be notified of the reorganization. He had already been informed of the change by Laurens, whose son was a member of Washington’s staff, and when the message from the Congress arrived on the 16th, rather than travel to York in person, Washington wrote a letter accepting responsibility for the reversals suffered by the army, and resigning his commission. Washington then left the army at Valley Forge and returned to his Virginia home. [4]

With Washington gone, desertions from the camp at Valley Forge, already a significant problem, became endemic. Washington’s successor, General Philip Schuyler, attempted to win over the long-suffering troops, but to no avail. By the time spring came at last to Valley Forge, the Continental Army had disintegrated. [5]

1. Bradford Wilcox. Galloway the Loyalist, 1775-1777 (New York, 1998), pp. 288-91.

2. James Elson. Dickinson and Galloway in the Crisis Years (New York, 1901), pp. 143-48.

3. Many officers and men in the Continental Army, notably Alexander Hamilton, denounced the decision to replace Washington. Hamilton would later insist that Washington had been “the mortar that held the Army together,” and that Dickinson’s actions were meant to cause the rebel army to disintegrate. Alexander Hamilton. Farewell to Change: Thoughts on Leaving the C.N.A. (New York, 1785), pp. 51-67. For a modern version of this argument, see Christina Taylor. Sabotage: John Dickinson and the Continental Army (New York, 2011). Dickinson himself was uncharacteristically reticent on the decision to replace Washington. The Late Rebellion, Vol. III, p. 38.

4. General Sir Henry Mates. George Washington: The War Years (London, 1932), Vol. IV, pp. 556-60.

5. Ronald Coakley. A Military History of the North American Rebellion (New York, 1984), pp. 517-21.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 4

On October 4, 1886, Mexican Chief of State Benito Hermión ordered George Pierson, the Mexican Minister to Guatemala, to open negotiations with Guatemalan President Vicente Martinez for a widening of the Kinkaid Canal Zone "to enable us to better protect that vital passage."

Friday, October 3, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 3

On October 3, 1892, a public funeral was held for former North American Governor-General John McDowell. McDowell's eulogy was given by his political rival and successor, Ezra Gallivan, who said, "Mexico was unfortunate enough to become a tyranny as a result of the Great Depression, while North America remained a republic. There are those who say this was due to the natures of the two countries. Perhaps this is so. But men, not impersonal forces, rule nations. Mexico had Hermión; North America had McDowell. That was the difference." Gallivan's remarks were reported in the next day's issue of the New York Herald.

On October 3, 1914, the government of President Henri Fanchon of France offered to negotiate a peace agreement with the U.S.M. ending the Hundred Day War.

On October 3, 1939, France entered the Global War by declaring war on the Germanic Confederation. In the C.N.A., Governor-General Bruce Hogg proclaimed his country's neutrality, saying, "We are the enemy of war itself, not of any nation. We shall defend ourselves against attack, but shall take no action either side could consider belligerent. North America is at peace. North America will remain at peace. I give you my word on this." Hogg's proclamation was reported in the next day's Burgoyne Times.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 2

On October 2, 1939, the government of George Bolingbroke of Great Britain responded to the previous day's declaration of war by the Germanic Confederation by issuing its own declaration of war.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: October 1

On October 1, 1797, during the Trans-Oceanic War, a combined force of British regulars under General Lord Cornwallis and Southern Confederation militia under General Edward Curtis took New Orleans, which was only weakly defended by its Spanish garrison.

On October 1, 1892, former North American Governor-General John McDowell suffered a fatal heart attack at his home in Manitoba.

On October 1, 1939, the Germanic Confederation declared war on Great Britain.