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Prof. Boerner's Explorations

Thoughts and Essays that explore the world of Technology, Computers, Photography, History and Family.


Archive for November 14th, 2009

Are books in print set for extinction like the ‘card catalog’? According to this article, that may be exactly what is in store for the publishing industry. What a shame it would be! While some books, like the traditional novels and other popular books might survive this trend, there are many books that would be severely damaged by an all eBook trend.

I am thinking specifically of science, art and photography books. I have sampled some of my photography books on my Kindle and they don’t make the grade with the current technology. 16-bit, grayscale graphics are just not adequate. This applies equally to those books featuring Black/White images as well as Color images. There are just too many nuances of detail that are lost in these figures.

Maybe future versions of the eReaders will be better, but the advantage of seeing a photograph in full detail and in a large size is indispensable. The same would apply to science and art books as well. Time will tell, but let’s not abandon print books yet… Let me know what you think by making a comment…

Good old books face threat from e-readers  
Source: www.nationmultimedia…


Is the wireless e-reader about to change the way we read and relate to a book? The e-reader war has been intensifying in the United States with some 3 million units expected to be sold by the end of the year and the figure projected to double next year, according to a market research firm.

In addition to Amazon’s Kindle and Sony Reader, Barnes & Noble, the world’s largest English-language bookseller, launched its own e-reader called the ‘nook’ this month with even more impressive features such as access to a million books at one’s fingertips and the ability to lend e-books to friends. This has led to debate and speculation in the US on what kind of impact the e-reader will have on not just the slowly declining print book industry but also on the level of knowledge and the act of reading itself. Already some public libraries in the US are offering e-books to be electronically borrowed, and writers as well as consumers are debating what might constitute a fair price for an e-book. [MORE]

Do you fear the upcoming holidays? Afraid of overeating? Well, perhaps some of the points of this article will help us control our eating on Thanksgiving and Christmas. These don’t need to be occasions for abandoning our good eating habits. Take a look and see what will help you cope with the challenges… Good habits are better than good luck…

Weight-Management Myths Debunked on Yahoo! Health 

Eating ProblemsSee why you can eat after 7 p.m., plus get the real story about six other commonly held beliefs

Diets are filled with dogma about when, what and how much to eat. Certainly "the rules" are usually based on observations that make sense, but unless you understand why you do certain things, you’ll break the rules as soon as the temptation is greater than your motivation. Let’s examine some of these myths, where they come from and how to make long-term changes that will work for you. [MORE]

Black Friday is approaching… Are you Ready? The day after Thanksgiving is the ‘bellwether’ for the retail stores to get a ‘read’ on the Christmas season. They typically offer some incredible ‘loss leaders’ to get you into the stores. But this year, many of the majors have started offering discount coupons online to help you avoid the early lines for the stores opening at 5AM, 6AM or so.

Typically, if you want to pick up some of the best deals, people line up at midnight to get the best deals. Good luck if you are going to enter the melee…

The Buzz Log – The Buzz on Black Friday – Yahoo! Buzz 

Black Friday  sounds like another doomsday disaster movie, but relax, it’s actually the name for the biggest shopping day of the year. It’s a retailing term for the day after Thanksgiving, when you, the consumer, shop for bargains and they, the businesses, rake in enough sales to be "in the black:"  profitable for the rest of the year. At least they can hope.

Well, holiday bargain hunters: Christmas has come even earlier this season. Not only were the sweetest of deals leaked online way before the designated day, but plenty of savvy shoppers have hopped on to the Web before they head to the mall to elbow their way into the superlow prices of the year.

Yahoo! searches for "Black Friday sales" have grown a whopping 500% in the last seven days. Shopaholics are also looking up "Black Friday specials," "Black Friday ads," and "when is Black Friday." The best part, many stores are doling out pre-Black Friday discounts for the way-early bird who’s paying attention. [MORE]

Being called "Mom" is a goal for many women today, but… While most women desire children and to be addressed as "mom" by this beloved little ones, this article points out that "Mom" is not a title for casual use, especially by "outsiders"… It is an especially affectionate term, like calling a woman "baby"; when used by these "outsiders", it becomes harsh and a bit condescending.

Read over this article and let me know what you think by writing a comment…

"Don’t Call me Mom!" – Parenting on Shine 

Mom and Daughter I can remember so clearly the first time someone called me “Mom.” And it wasn’t my darling daughter Isabella, but in fact, some older photographer guy who simply couldn’t be bothered to learn my name. Charming.

When Isabella was about 2, we briefly investigated the child-modeling route. We quickly decided it wasn’t for us, but not before she booked a cover shoot for a major parenting magazine. I’ll admit – it was an exciting prospect – imagining her beautiful little face gracing a holiday issue … and I’m afraid my addled head was filled with visions of glamour as I carried her into the giant, super chic loft space in Manhattan for her big shoot. I was once an aspiring actress, and walking into a professional set brought back memories of being backstage, or putting makeup on for a scene in one of the indie movies I was in (no you haven’t seen either of them). Ah yes … the lights, the camera, the snack table … I quickly lapsed into an mini-fantasy of the producer demanding I step into the shoot myself … (Let’s make it a mother-daughter shot! Why not, with this beautiful young mother right here? What are we, blind?!)

“Can you bring her over here, MOM?” [MORE]

We have all encountered co-workers who are hard to take... It’s bad enough when they are our team members or subordinates, but almost impossible to take if they happen to be our bosses (the infamous ‘Boss from Hell’). This article has a few tips on how to identify habits that may make US the ‘bad guy’ in the office…

Take a look at these habilts and see if they might apply to your behavior. It’s amazing to realize that it might be us causing discord in the office… A word to the WISE should be sufficient, but if not, hopefully our co-workers will leave a copy of this article on our desks on Monday…

signs-you-may-be-a-bad-coworker: Personal Finance News from Yahoo! Finance 

office-romance I get a lot of mail at Ask a Manager from people consumed with fury over habits their coworkers have — habits that I bet most of those coworkers aren’t even aware of.

Here are five signs that you might be the one pushing your coworkers to the limits of their sanity:

1. You dump last-minute work on people when you could have avoided doing so.

There will always be projects that pop up at the last minute, but don’t be the coworker who sits on something and doesn’t assign it out until late in the game. You’ll come across as inconsiderate, and maybe disorganized, too. [MORE]

AT&T is feeling the sting of Verizon’s Ad Campaign… The recent onslaught of commercials FOR the new Droid phone and against the AT&T 3G (but not total) coverage maps is taking its toll on AT&T. While some of this is due to the implication that AT&T does NOT have any coverage in the non-3G areas of the map, the public seems to be biting at the ‘sucker line’ from Verizon.

It’s too bad that advertising can’t be fair and truthful, so the uninformed public and make good decisions, isn’t it? I was with AirTouch Cellular/Verizon for twenty years and found that their service network was not that reliable… So, should decisions be make on facts or on perception? The unfortunate answer seems to be that perception will win out over facts for most people… Too BAD!

AT&T's Verizon Ad Battle: Who’s Being Hurt Worse? by PC World: Yahoo! Tech 


Cell phone lovers, get ready to rumble: AT&T and Verizon are duking it out in an ad-based battle, and the fight isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Now, some new data suggests the public is starting to take notice.

AT&T’s Verizon Ad Battle

First, let’s set the scene: In one corner, you have Verizon. The company recently launched a series of ads attacking AT&T’s 3G network. The spots, revolving around the phrase "there’s a map for that," show side-by-side maps of AT&T’s and Verizon’s networks and claim Verizon has five times more 3G coverage. Combine those with the ongoing series of iPhone-bashing Droid commercials, and you’ve got a powerful one-two punch heading straight toward AT&T’s kisser. [MORE]

by Gerald Boerner


“The job of the photographer, in my view, is not to catalogue indisputable fact but to try to be coherent about intuition and hope.”
— Robert Adams

“No place is boring, if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film.”
— Robert Adams

“Silence is, after all, the context for the deepest appreciation of art: the only important evaluations are finally, personal, interior ones.”
— Robert Adams

“Henry James proposed asking of art three modest and appropriate questions: What is the artist trying to do? Does he do it? Was it worth doing?”
— Robert Adams

“The history of art is filled with people who did not live long enough to enjoy a sympathetic public, and their misery argues that criticism should try to speed justice”
— Robert Adams

“Philosophy can forsake too easily the details of experience… many writers and painters have demonstrated that thinking long about what art is or ought to be ruins the power to write or paint”
— Robert Adams

“Your own photography is never enough. Every photographer who has lasted has depended on other peoples pictures too – photographs that may be public or private, serious or funny but that carry with them a reminder of community.”
— Robert Adams

“…the only things that distinguish the photographer from everybody else are his pictures: they alone are the basis for our special interest in him. If pictures cannot be understood without knowing details of the artist’s private life, then that is a reason for faulting them; major art, by definition, can stand independent of its maker.”
— Robert Adams

“What we hope for from the artist is help in discovering the significance of a place. In this sense we would choose in most respects for thirty minutes with Edward Hopper’s painting Sunday Morning to thirty minutes on the street that was his subject; with Hopper’s vision we see more.”
— Robert Adams

“By Interstate 70: a dog skeleton, a vacuum cleaner, TV dinners, a doll, a pie, rolls of carpet… Later, next to the South Platte River: algae, broken concrete, jet contrails, the smell of crude oil… What I hope to document, though not at the expense of surface detail, is the form that underlies this apparent chaos.”
— Robert Adams

“Still photographs often differ from life more by their silence than by the immobility of their subjects. Landscape pictures tend to converge with life, however, on summer nights, when the sounds outside, after we call in children and close garage doors, are small – the whir of moths, the snap of a stick.”
— Robert Adams

“At our best and most fortunate we make pictures because of what stands before our camera, to honor what is greater and more interesting than we are. We never accomplish this perfectly, though in return we are given something perfect–a sense of inclusion. Our subject thus redefines us, and is part of the biography by which we want to be known.”
— Robert Adams

“One does not for long wrestle a view camera in the wind and heat and cold just to illustrate a philosophy. The thing that keeps you scrambling over the rocks, risking snakes, and swatting at the flies is the view. It is only your enjoyment of and commitment to what you see, not to what you rationally understand, that balances the otherwise absurd investment of labor.”
— Robert Adams

“The word beauty is unavoidable … it accounts for my decision to photograph … There appeared a quality, beauty seemed the only appropriate word for it, in certain photographs, and I am compelled to live with the vocabulary of this new sight … through over many years [I] still find it embarrassing to use the word beauty, I fear I will be attacked for it, but I still believe in it.”
— Robert Adams

“Part of the difficulty in trying to be both an artist and a businessperson is this: You make a picture because you have seen something beyond price; then you are to turn and assign to your record of it a cash value. If the selling is not necessarily a contradiction of the truth in the picture, it is so close to being a contradiction—and the truth is always in shades of gray–that you are worn down by the threat.”
— Robert Adams


Robert Adams (born: 1937)

Robert Adams Robert Adams is an American photographer who came to prominence as part of the photographic movement known as New Topographics. He wasthe U.S. photographer known for his images of the American west. During that time, he has worked almost exclusively in the American West, and, as photography has altered and fragmented, he has refined and reaffirmed its inherent language, adapting the legacies of 19th-century and modernist photography to his own very singular purpose

Adams became interested in documenting how the western landscapes of North America, once captured by the likes of Timothy O’Sullivan and William Henry Jackson, had been shaped by human influence. As part of the New Topographics in the 1970s, Adams approach to photographing these landscapes was to take a stance of apparent neutrality, refraining from any obvious judgments of the subject matter. His images are titled as documents, to establish his neutral position. However, in the words of John Szarkowski, Adams… "has, without actually lying, discovered in these dumb and artless agglomerations of boring buildings the suggestion of redeeming virtue."

AdamsR_City View from Hill Adams’s recent essays in Why People Photograph and Beauty in Photography make strong arguments for conservative and human approaches to making photography, writing clear criticism about photography, and the importance of encouraging responsible stewardship of the land.

Western Landscapes

In his images of main streets, tract houses, trees, and waterways, Adams records two kinds of landscapes, one damaged by people and the other somehow beyond their power to harm. He asks us, through his photographs, to consider where we live and how we relate to our environment.

The New West

AdamsR_House in Colorado Springs CO Adams explored new housing tracts that were being built along the Colorado Front Range in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The developments filled with people who had migrated west in search of a new Eden, only to discover themselves isolated in an artificial landscape. "People had moved [to Denver] to enjoy nature, but found that nature was mostly inaccessible except on weekends," Adams wrote.

Certain elements of this new landscape recur in Adams’ photographs: the uniform, boxy houses, concrete, cars, and dirt plots, as well as the loneliness and isolation that attend rapid suburban growth.

AdamsR_Colfax Avenue About his 1970s work, published under the title The New West, Adams wrote, "The subject of these pictures is…the source of all Form, light." He asserted, "I love the light," underscoring that the deeper subject of these pictures is not the tract homes or freeways they depict.

This picture of Colfax Avenue in a suburb of Denver is testimony to both the brutal dominance of the automobile and the imperishable beauty of light.

Summer Nights

AdamsR_Burning Oil Sludge For about five years, beginning in 1974, Adams embarked on an experiment: he made a series of photographs at night—the opposite of the high-altitude daylight used in most of his previous photographs. The project brought an element of risk he had not experienced before. Passing motorists sometimes veered toward him on rural roadsides, and in urban centers police repeatedly questioned him about his activities.

Robert Adams is best known for his series of photographs that investigates urban encroachment into the landscape of the American West. In much of his work, Adams balances a sense of hope for Nature’s persistence against despair with man’s destruction of what was, until relatively recently, wilderness.

AdamsR_Longmont COHe took the Summer Nights series along the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, where he lives. The series leads the viewer outward from urban centres towards the rural plains and mountains, suggesting a walk out of town as the light fades.

As the series title suggests, Adams took many of the photographs at night in summer, when twilight can extend into the whole night. Others, where electric lights are balanced – and even dwarfed – by the drama of darkening skies, were taken at actual twilight.

Our Lives and Our Children

AdamsR_West Edge of Denver CO Adams made a series of photographs focusing on the people who lived near the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant outside Denver. The facility processed plutonium, one of the most toxic known elements. Plutonium ignites spontaneously in contact with moist air and caused many fires at the plant, threatening all those living in the area.
Working in shopping center parking lots, Adams abandoned his tripod and learned the strategies of a street photographer. He strapped a camera to his wrist and concealed it behind a grocery bag to make pictures without his subjects’ awareness. The photographs reveal in the faces of children, parents, and grandparents a continuity of caring and hope.

Los Angeles Spring

AdamsR_Ontario CA While living in Los Angeles in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Adams observed in the surrounding landscape the remains of once glorious citrus estates, transformed after World War II by real-estate developers intent on profiting from the sale of homes to veterans. Adams returned to photograph these changes numerous times between 1978 and 1983.
About the series, called Los Angeles Spring, Adams wrote: "The pictures reveal a persistent verdancy that is unexpected. How could anyone explain the bird in the defoliated orchard, the suddenly clear day on a quiet road, or the astonishing silhouette of a eucalyptus in smog?"

West from the Columbia

AdamsR_South Jetty of Columbia River OR The loveliness in this image of sunlight on the moving surface of the Pacific Ocean suggests questions of mortality and immortality and the power of nature. After learning the title, we are reminded that facing the ocean is the landscape of the Northwest coast, an area known for damaged old-growth forests.
"We travel now to beaches in Oregon and Washington in order to face away from the deforested interior," Adams wrote. "Of all the sacred places on the coast, none is more comforting than where rivers join the sea. By the river’s disappearance we are reminded of life’s passing, while by the ocean’s beauty we accept it, in a hope we cannot explain."

Honors and Awards

He was a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow in photography in 1973 and 1980, and he received the MacArthur Foundation’s MacArthur Fellowship in 1994. In 2009, he received the Hasselblad Award for his achievements in photography. He is represented by the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco and the Matthew Marks Gallery in New York.


Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Robert Adams that can be found at…

Other References:

Robert Adams Exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Center, Los Angeles…

by Gerald Boerner


“Race lines must be obliterated in the South, and the old theory of the natural inferiority of the Negro must give way to the demonstration of Negro capacity.”
— George Washington Williams

“In the 1920s and 1930s, as black newspapers and civil-rights groups anxiously monitored the process, soldiers from the four regiments were increasingly used as laborers and service troops.”
— Buffalo Soldiers, Handbook of Texas Online

“None of the buffalo soldier regiments went to France during World War I, though they provided a cadre of experienced noncommissioned officers to other black units that did go into combat.”
— Buffalo Soldiers, Handbook of Texas Online

“If men will not be good, they must at least be made to behave…. If America has not yet reached her height after three hundred years of striving, she ought not be impatient with the Negro after only sixty years of opportunity.”
— Benjamin Brawley

“The Civil War brought fourth the greatest display of black sacrifice, valor and glory in American history. Therein lies the heritage of the men who rode into the West, and became known as the Buffalo Soldiers.”
Buffalo Soldiers and Indian Wars

“The army supported segregation. It maintained separate facilities where possible. The Buffalo Soldiers built many forts whose facilities at times they couldn’t use. At Fort Concho for example, there were separate rooms for educational purposes, etc.”
Buffalo Soldiers and Indian Wars

“In every major war, throughout the history of the United States, from the American Revolution through the Indian Wars, Native-Americans and African-Americans have fought with and against  each other.”
Buffalo Soldiers and Indian Wars

“[At the end of the Civil War] Southerners and eastern populations did not want to see armed Negro soldiers near or in their communities. They were also afraid of the labor market being flooded with a new source of labor. General employment opportunities in these communities was not available to blacks, so many African-Americans took a long hard look at military service which offered shelter, education, steady pay, medical attention and a pension. Some decided it was much better than frequent civilian unemployment.”
Buffalo Soldiers and Indian Wars


Veterans Day: The Buffalo Soldiers

Buffalo Soldiers originally were members of the U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, formed on September 21, 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The nickname was given by the Native American tribes they fought; the term eventually came to include six units:


  • 9th Cavalry Regiment
  • 10th Cavalry Regiment
  • 24th Infantry Regiment
  • 25th Infantry Regiment
  • 27th Cavalry Regiment
  • 28th Cavalry Regiment

Although several African-American regiments were raised during the Civil War to fight alongside the Union Army (including the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and the many United States Colored Troops Regiments), the "Buffalo Soldiers" were established by Congress as the first peacetime all-black regiments in the regular U.S. Army.

On September 6, 2005, Mark Matthews, who was the oldest living Buffalo Soldier, died at the age of 111. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Sources disagree on how the nickname "Buffalo Soldiers" began. According to the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum, the name originated with the Cheyenne warriors in 1867, the actual Cheyenne translation being "Wild Buffalo." However, writer Walter Hill documented the account of Colonel Benjamin Grierson, who founded the 10th Cavalry regiment, recalling an 1871 campaign against the Comanche tribe. Hill attributed the origin of the name to the Comanche due to Grierson’s assertions. Some sources assert that the nickname was given out of respect for the fierce fighting ability of the 10th cavalry. Other sources assert that Native Americans called the black cavalry troops "buffalo soldiers" because of their dark curly hair, which resembled a buffalo’s coat. Still other sources point to a combination of both legends. The term Buffalo Soldiers became a generic term for all African-American soldiers. It is now used for U.S. Army units that trace their direct lineage back to the 9th and 10th Cavalry, units whose bravery earned them an honored place in U.S. history.

Their service

Liberators_of_Cuba Buffalo Soldiers who participated
in the Spanish American War

During the American Civil War, the U.S. government formed regiments known as the United States Colored Troops, composed of black soldiers. After the war, Congress reorganized the Army and authorized the formation of two regiments of black cavalry with the designations 9th and 10th U.S. Cavalry, and four regiments of black infantry, designated the 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st Infantry Regiments (Colored). The 38th and 41st were reorganized as the 25th Infantry Regiment, with headquarters in Jackson Barracks in New Orleans, Louisiana, in November 1869. The 39th and 40th were reorganized as the 24th Infantry Regiment, with headquarters at Fort Clark, Texas, in April 1869. All of these units were composed of black enlisted men commanded by both white and black officers. These included the first commander of the 10th Cavalry Benjamin Grierson, the first commander of the 9th Cavalry Edward Hatch, Medal of Honor winner Louis H. Carpenter, the unforgetable Nicholas M. Nolan and the first black graduate of West Point Henry O. Flipper.

From 1866 to the early 1890s, these regiments served at a variety of posts in the Southwestern United States (Apache Wars) and Great Plains regions. They participated in most of the military campaigns in these areas and earned a distinguished record. Thirteen enlisted men and six officers from these four regiments earned the Medal of Honor during the Indian Wars. In addition to the military campaigns, the "Buffalo Soldiers" served a variety of roles along the frontier from building roads to escorting the U.S. mail. On 17 April 1875, regimental headquarters for the 9th and 10th Cavalries were transferred to Fort Concho, Texas. Companies actually arrived at Fort Concho in May 1873. At various times from 1873 through 1885, Fort Concho housed 9th Cavalry companies A-F, K, and M, 10th Cavalry companies A, D-G, I, L, and M, 24th Infantry companies D-G, and K, and 25th Infantry companies G and K.

Buffalo_Soldier_9th_Cav_Denver Buffalo Soldier in the
9th Cavalry, 1890

After the Indian Wars ended in the 1890s, the regiments continued to serve and participated in the Spanish-American War (including the Battle of San Juan Hill), where five more Medals of Honor were earned. They took part in the 1916 Mexican Expedition and in the Philippine-American War.

A lesser known action was the 9th Cavalry’s participation in the fabled Johnson County War, an 1892 land war in Johnson County, Wyoming between small farmers and large, wealthy ranchers. It culminated in a lengthy shootout between local farmers, a band of hired killers, and a sheriff’s posse. The 6th Cavalry was ordered in by President Benjamin Harrison to quell the violence and capture the band of hired killers. Soon afterward, however, the 9th Cavalry was specifically called on to replace the 6th. The 6th Cavalry was swaying under the local political and social pressures and were unable to keep the peace in the tense environment.

The Buffalo Soldiers responded within about two weeks from Nebraska, and moved the men to the rail town of Suggs, Wyoming, creating "Camp Bettens" despite a racist and hostile local population. One soldier was killed and two wounded in gun battles with locals. Nevertheless, the 9th Cavalry remained in Wyoming for nearly a year to quell tensions in the area.

Mark_Matthews_Cavalry_Unit A 1936 photo of Sergeant Matthews’
cavalry unit at Fort Myer in Arlington,
Virginia (Matthews is in the back row,
second from left)

Another little-known contribution of the buffalo soldiers involved eight troops of the 9th Cavalry Regiment and one company of the 24th Infantry Regiment who served in California’s Sierra Nevada as some of the first national park rangers. In 1899, Buffalo Soldiers from Company H, 24th Infantry Regiment briefly served in Yosemite National Park, Sequoia National Park and General Grant (Kings Canyon) National Parks.

U.S. Army regiments had been serving in these national parks since 1891, but until 1899 the soldiers serving were white. Beginning in 1899, and continuing in 1903 and 1904, African-American regiments served during the summer months in the second and third oldest national parks in the United States (Sequoia and Yosemite). Because these soldiers served before the National Park Service was created (1916), they were "park rangers" before the term was coined.

One particular Buffalo Soldier stands out in history: Captain Charles Young who served with Troop "I", 9th Cavalry Regiment in Sequoia National Park during the summer of 1903. Charles Young was the third African American to graduate from the United States Military Academy. At the time of his death, he was the highest ranking African American in the U.S. military. He made history in Sequoia National Park in 1903 by becoming Acting Military Superintendent of Sequoia and General Grant National Parks. Charles Young was also the first African-American superintendent of a national park. During Young’s tenure in the park, he named a Giant Sequoia for Booker T. Washington. Recently, another Giant Sequoia in Giant Forest was named in Captain Young’s honor. Some of Young’s descendants were in attendance at the ceremony.

Systemic prejudice

The "Buffalo Soldiers" were often confronted with racial prejudice from other members of the U.S. Army. Civilians in the areas where the soldiers were stationed occasionally reacted to them with violence. Buffalo Soldiers were attacked during racial disturbances in:

  • Rio Grande City, Texas in 1899
  • Brownsville, Texas in 1906
  • Houston, Texas in 1917

The "Buffalo Soldiers" did not participate as organized units during World War I, but experienced non-commissioned officers were provided to other segregated black units for combat service — such as the 317th Engineer Battalion.

Buffalo Soldiers on Patrol With colors flying and guidons down,
the lead troops of the famous
9th Cavalry pass in review at the
regiment’s new home in rebuilt
Camp Funston. Ft. Riley, Kansas,
May 1941.

Early in the 20th century, the "Buffalo Soldiers" found themselves being used more as laborers and service troops rather than as active combat units. During World War II the 9th and 10th Cavalry Regiments were disbanded, and the soldiers were moved into service-oriented units, along with the entire 2nd Cavalry Division. One of the infantry regiments, the 24th Infantry Regiment, served in combat in the Pacific theater. Another was the 92nd Infantry Division, aka the Buffalo Soldiers Division, which served in combat during the Italian Campaign in the Mediterranean theater. Another was the 93rd Infantry Division — including the 25th Infantry Regiment — which served in the Pacific theater.

Despite some official resistance and administrative barriers, black airmen were trained and played a part in the air war in Europe, gaining a reputation for skill and bravery. In early 1945, after the Battle of the Bulge, American forces in Europe experienced a shortage of combat troops. The embargo on using black soldiers in combat units was relaxed.

The American Military History says:

"Faced with a shortage of infantry replacements during the enemy’s counteroffensive, General Eisenhower offered Negro soldiers in service units an opportunity to volunteer for duty with the infantry. More than 4,500 responded, many taking reductions in grade in order to meet specified requirements. The 6th Army Group formed these men into provisional companies, while the 12th Army Group employed them as an additional platoon in existing rifle companies. The excellent record established by these volunteers, particularly those serving as platoons, presaged major postwar changes in the traditional approach to employing Negro troops."


In recent years, the employment of the Buffalo Soldiers by the United States Army in the Indian Wars has led to modern critical reappraisal of the regiment, or revisionist history depending on one’s political view, by cultural historians as being mere shock troops or accessories to the alleged forcefully-expansionist ideals of the U.S. government at the expense of the Native Americans. This is seen as a far cry from the historical cultural upholding of the Buffalo Soldiers as being a rare exception to the discriminatory socioeconomic environment.


Background and biographical information is from Wikipedia articles on:

The Buffalo Soldiers that can be found at…

by Gerald Boerner


“It is not down in any map; true places never are.”
— Herman Melville“A whale ship was my Yale College and my Harvard.”
— Herman Melville

“Is there some principal of nature which states that we never know the quality of what we have until it is gone?”
— Herman Melville

“I am, as I am; whether hideous, or handsome, depends upon who is made judge.”
— Herman Melville

“A man thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things.”
— Herman Melville

“Faith, like a jackal, feeds among the tombs, and even from these dead doubts she gathers her most vital hope.”
— Herman Melville

“Friendship at first sight, like love at first sight, is said to be the only truth.”
— Herman Melville

“Heaven have mercy on us all – Presbyterians and Pagans alike – for we are all somehow dreadfully cracked about the head, and sadly need mending.”
— Herman Melville

“In this world, shipmates, sin that pays its way can travel freely, and without passport; whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all frontiers.”
— Herman Melville

“He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it.”
— Herman Melville

Herman Melville & Moby Dick: Great American Novel

Herman_Melville_1860 Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist and poet who is often classified as part of dark romanticism. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and novella Billy Budd, the latter which was published posthumously.

His first three books gained much attention, the first becoming a bestseller, but after a fast-blooming literary success in the late 1840s, his popularity declined precipitously in the mid-1850s and never recovered during his lifetime. When he died in 1891, he was almost completely forgotten. It was not until the “Melville Revival” in the early 20th century that his work won recognition, most notably Moby-Dick which was hailed as one of the chief literary masterpieces of both American and world literature.

Early working life

Herman Melville’s roving disposition and a desire to support himself independently of family assistance led him to seek work as a surveyor on the Erie Canal. This effort failed, and his brother helped him get a job as a cabin boy on a New York ship bound for Liverpool. He made the voyage, and returned on the same ship. Redburn: His First Voyage (1849) is partly based on his experiences of this journey.

Herman Melville 55 Herman Melville

The three years after Albany Academy (1837 to 1840) were mostly occupied with school-teaching, except for the voyage to Liverpool in 1839. Near the end of 1840 he once again decided to sign ship’s articles. On January 3, 1841, he sailed from New Bedford, Massachusetts on the whaler Acushnet, which was bound for the Pacific Ocean. He was later to comment that his life began that day. The vessel sailed around Cape Horn and traveled to the South Pacific. Melville left little direct information about the events of this 18-month cruise, although his whaling romance, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale, probably gives many pictures of life onboard the Acushnet. Melville deserted the Acushnet in the Marquesas Islands in July 1842. For three weeks he lived among the Typee natives, who were called cannibals by the two other tribal groups on the island — though they treated Melville very well. His book Typee was Melville’s first novel. It describes a brief love affair with a beautiful native girl, Fayaway, who generally “wore the garb of Eden” and came to epitomize the guileless noble savage in the popular imagination. We have no independent evidence, however, of Melville’s actual activities among the islanders.

Melville did not seem to be concerned about repercussions from his desertion from the Acushnet. He boarded another whaler bound for Hawaii and left that ship in Honolulu. While in Honolulu, he became a controversial figure for his vehement opposition to the activities of Christian missionaries seeking to convert the native population. After working as a clerk for four months he joined the crew of the frigate USS United States, which reached Boston in October 1844. These experiences were described in Typee, Omoo, and White-Jacket, which were published as novels mainly because few believed their veracity.

moby dick14Melville completed Typee in the summer of 1845 though he had difficulty getting it published. It was eventually published in 1846 in London, where it became an overnight bestseller. The Boston publisher subsequently accepted Omoo sight unseen. Typee and Omoo gave Melville overnight notoriety as a writer and adventurer and he often entertained by telling stories to his admirers. As writer and editor Nathaniel Parker Willis wrote, “With his cigar and his Spanish eyes, he talks Typee and Omoo, just as you find the flow of his delightful mind on paper”. The novels, however, did not generate enough royalties for him to live on. Omoo was not as colorful as Typee, and readers began to realize Melville was not just producing adventure stories. Redburn and White-Jacket had no problem finding publishers. Mardi was a disappointment for readers who wanted another rollicking and exotic sea yarn.

Publications and contemporary reactions

Most of Melville’s novels were published first in the United Kingdom and then in the U.S. Sometimes the editions contain substantial differences; at other times different printings were either bowdlerized or restored to their pre-bowdlerized state. (For specifics on different publication dates, editions, printings, etc., please see entries for individual novels.)

Moby-Dick has become Melville’s most famous work and is often considered one of the greatest literary works of all time. It was dedicated to Melville’s friend Nathaniel Hawthorne. It did not, however, make Melville rich. The book never sold its initial printing of 3,000 copies in his lifetime, and total earnings from the American edition amounted to just $556.37 from his publisher, Harper & Brothers. Melville also wrote Billy Budd, White-Jacket, Typee, Omoo, Pierre, The Confidence-Man and many short stories and works of various genres.

moby dick6Melville is less well known as a poet and did not publish poetry until later in life. After the Civil War, he published Battle Pieces and Aspects of the War, which did not sell well; of the Harper & Bros. printing of 1200 copies, only 525 had been sold ten years later. Again tending to outrun the tastes of his readers, Melville’s epic length verse-narrative Clarel, about a student’s pilgrimage to the Holy Land, was also quite obscure, even in his own time. Among the longest single poems in American literature, Clarel, published in 1876, had an initial printing of only 350 copies. The critic Lewis Mumford found a copy of the poem in the New York Public Library in 1925 “with its pages uncut”. In other words, it had sat there unread for 50 years.

His poetry is not as highly critically esteemed as his fiction, although some critics place him as the first modernist poet in the United States; others would assert that his work more strongly suggest what today would be a postmodern view. Clarel has won the admiration of no less a critic than Helen Vendler, who read it in preparation for the 1976 Pittsfield Centennial Celebration. Another leading champion of Melville’s claims as a great American poet was the poet and novelist Robert Penn Warren, who issued a selection of Melville’s poetry prefaced by an admiring and acute critical essay.

Moby-Dick, the Great American Novel

Moby-Dick_FE_title_page Moby-Dick is a classic novel published in 1851 by American author Herman Melville. Originally misunderstood by contemporary audiences and critics, Moby-Dick is now often referred to as The Great American Novel and is considered one of the treasures of world literature. The story tells the adventures of the wandering sailor Ishmael and his voyage on the whaleship Pequod, commanded by Captain Ahab. Ishmael soon learns that Ahab seeks one specific whale, Moby Dick, a white sperm whale of tremendous size and ferocity. Comparatively few whaleships know of Moby Dick, and fewer yet have encountered him. In a previous encounter, the whale destroyed Ahab’s boat and bit off his leg. Ahab intends to take revenge.

In Moby-Dick, Melville employs stylized language, symbolism, and metaphor to explore numerous complex themes. Through the main character’s journey, the concepts of class and social status, good and evil, and the existence of gods are all examined as Ishmael speculates upon his personal beliefs and his place in the universe. The narrator’s reflections, along with his descriptions of a sailor’s life aboard a whaling ship, are woven into the narrative along with Shakespearean literary devices such as stage directions, extended soliloquies and asides.

Often considered the embodiment of American Romanticism, Moby-Dick was first published by Richard Bentley in London on October 18, 1851 in an expurgated three-volume edition titled The Whale, and weeks later as one massive volume, by New York City publisher Harper and Brothers as Moby-Dick; or, The Whale on November 14, 1851. The first line of Chapter One—”Call me Ishmael.”—is one of the most famous opening lines in American literature. Although the book initially received mixed reviews, Moby-Dick is now considered one of the greatest novels in the English language and has secured Melville’s place among America’s greatest writers.


Moby-Dick is a symbolic work, but also includes chapters on natural history. Major themes include obsession, religion, idealism versus pragmatism, revenge, racism, sanity, hierarchical relationships, and politics. All of the members of the crew have biblical-sounding, improbable, or descriptive names, and the narrator deliberately avoids specifying the exact time of the events (such as the giant fish disappearing into the dark abyss of the ocean) and some other similar details. These together suggest that the narrator — and not just Melville — is deliberately casting his tale in an epic and allegorical mode.

The white whale has also been seen as a symbol for many things, including nature and those elements of life that are out of human control. The character Gabriel, “in his gibbering insanity, pronounc[ed] the White Whale to be no less a being than the Shaker God incarnated; the Shakers receiving the Bible.”. Melville mentions the Matsya Avatar of Lord Vishnu, the first among ten incarnations when Vishnu appears as a giant fish on Earth and saves creation from the flood of destruction. Melville mentions this while discussing the spiritual and mystical aspects of the sailing profession and he calls Lord Vishnu as the first among whales and the God of whalers.

The Pequod’s quest to hunt down Moby Dick itself is also widely viewed as allegorical. To Ahab, killing the whale becomes the ultimate goal in his life, and this observation can also be expanded allegorically so that the whale represents everyone’s goals. Furthermore, his vengeance against the whale is analogous to man’s struggle against fate. The only escape from Ahab’s vision is seen through the Pequod’s occasional encounters, called gams, with other ships. Readers could consider what exactly Ahab will do if he, in fact, succeeds in his quest: having accomplished his ultimate goal, what else is there left for him to do? Similarly, Melville may be implying that people in general need something to reach for in life, or that such a goal can destroy one if allowed to overtake all other concerns. Some such things are hinted at early on in the book, when the main character, Ishmael, is sharing a cold bed with his newfound friend, Queequeg:

… truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more.
Moby-Dick, Ch. 11

Ahab’s pipe is widely looked upon as the riddance of happiness in Ahab’s life. By throwing the pipe overboard, Ahab signifies that he no longer can enjoy simple pleasures in life; instead, he dedicates his entire life to the pursuit of his obsession, the killing of the white whale, Moby Dick. A number of biblical themes can also be found in the novel. The book contains multiple implicit and explicit allusions to the story of Jonah, in addition to the use of certain biblical names.

Ishmael’s musings also allude to themes common among the American Transcendentalists and parallel certain themes in European Romanticism and the philosophy of Hegel. In the poetry of Whitman and the prose writings of Emerson and Thoreau, a ship at sea is sometimes a metaphor for the soul.

Melville’s expectations

In a letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne written within days of Moby-Dick’s American publication, Melville made a number of revealing comments:

… for not one man in five cycles, who is wise, will expect appreciative recognition from his fellows, or any one of them. Appreciation! Recognition! Is Jove appreciated? Why, ever since Adam, who has got to the meaning of his great allegory—the world? Then we pigmies must be content to have our paper allegories but ill comprehended. I say your appreciation is my glorious gratuity.

A sense of unspeakable security is in me this moment, on account of your understanding the book. I have written a wicked book, and feel spotless as the lamb. Ineffable sociabilities are in me. I would sit down and dine with you and all the gods in old Rome’s Pantheon. It is a strange feeling—no hopefulness is in it, no despair. Content—that is it; and irresponsibility; but without licentious inclination. I speak now of my profoundest sense of being, not of an incidental feeling.

You did not care a penny for the book. But, now and then as you read, you understood the pervading thought that impelled the book—and that you praised. Was it not so? You were archangel enough to despise the imperfect body, and embrace the soul.


Other Events on this Day
  • In 1851…
    Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick is published
  • In 1910…
    Eugene Fly becomes the first pilot to take off from a ship, the USS Birmingham, anchored off Hampton Roads, Virginia.
  • In 1935…
    President Franklin D. Roosevelt declares the Philippine Islands to be a self-governing commonwealth (which gains full independence in 1946).
  • In 1972…
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average industrial Average closes the first time, ending the trading session at $1,003.16.

Dates and events based on:

William J. Bennett and John Cribb, (2008) The American Patriot’s Almanac Daily Readings on America. (Kindle Edition)

Background information is from Wikipedia articles on:

Herman Melville that can be found at…

Moby-Dick that can be found at…