In the last 7 days...
Sat, 03/28/15"All those abstract "music c [...]"
Saturday, March 28. 2015 | Comments (0)
Most impressive. Clearly, if you were in the audience you wouldn't see a lot of the effects, as this video was recorded by a digital camera set up before hand with all of the tracking and effects built in. However, you can still see the use of front and rear projection, travelling screens (you can see the shadows moving in a few shots) and several transparent LCDs. The Sankaku Complex article I found this linked from implied that the fx-heavy/almost no singing performance was unique or unusual, however here is a concert by Perfume from 2009:
Heavy fx, dancing, and vocals so thoroughly processed that a vocaloid would shun them. I have yet to find a song that's better than moderately pleasant noise, although I'm open to suggestions if there are any Perfume connoisseurs out there.
Thursday, March 12. 2015 | Comments (0)
Only days after commemorating the fall of the Alamo in 1836, the Texas General Land Office announced today that the contract held by The Daughters of the Republic of Texas to manage the Alamo location has been revoked. This all started a few years back, when the DRT had an ugly power struggle that resulted in numerous lawsuits. To sum up, the Alamo needed some structural repairs, but the DRT were having trouble raising the money. Some younger members of the DRT were elected to leadership positions with the expectation that they would use their connections with current politicians and businessmen to acquire the necessary funds. However, some of the older members that had been sidelined for inaction threw a fit and started calling in any and all favors to get the new people shut down, including allegations of theft and mishandling of funds. They managed to force the current president out; she then went to the press. A subsequent investigation by the attorney general found all sorts of problems...all problems that pre-dated the new president.
This prompted the legislature to have the General Land Office take over responsibility for the shrine as a national park. This wasn't actually a very popular move, as our park service has been underfunded, understaffed and generally very poorly run for decades. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas, who did manage to save the Alamo from destruction, restore it, and run it successfully for over 100 years before all the mess started, was retained to manage the property.
Now, it's going to be managed by the lowest bid contract. As for mantainence; well, another famous Texas monument is currently sinking.
Saturday, March 7. 2015 | Comments (0)
How the battle transpired is well known. It's only around the edges that there are many disputed facts or "well-known" errors. We don't know for sure how many people or fighting men were in the Alamo, but the answer to both questions is "probably not less than 200 and not more than 280". We don't know how many Mexican troops were used to attack the make-shift fortress, but it was probably no less than 1400 and no more than 3000 at the utmost. The 1400 number would seem to be extremely reliable, as it is "four columns of infantry plus a reserve". Unfortunately, research into the matter has shown that even this number is not 100% verifiable. The number of Mexican dead is completely unknowable at this point, being reported anywhere from around 200 to as many as 2500. There is one account of Travis being killed at the beginning of the siege, and an account of him dead by a cannon on the church, and two accounts of him dead by a cannon on the north wall. Crockett was either seen dead outside the Alamo church or found alive inside, or found dead outside the fort, or alive in the ruins of a jacale outside the fort. While it is currently in vogue to consider Crockett alive at the end of the fight because of the multiple accounts of his living, the multiple accounts disagree to widely as to make them completely unreliable. The famous account of Crockett being taken before Santa Anna actually matches another story of a soldier who lived at the Alamo, and that story existed long before the Crockett story made it's debut. In fact, the only record of the Crockett and Santa Anna story has been completely discredited to all but the most fervent believers. Bowie was found in his sick bed and likely killed one or more Mexican soldiers before being killed, but that's as far as fact goes.
And speaking of fact, there is a major issue that you may be familiar with if you study history much. While the Alamo siege more-or-less happened the way we all remember, it wasn't quite as simple as that. There are several accounts from both sides of the battle that say the siege lasted for ten days, not thirteen. There are multiple accounts of a three-day truce that occurred after either seven days of siege or ten. The two sides constantly exchanged messages discussing terms of surrender, including one immediately prior to the fighting, after Santa Anna's final council. For skeptics, there is a famous account of Travis's speech before the men. Well-written and performed, dramatic, and clearly borrowing elements from, as I mentioned, an earlier moment provided by Ben Milam. And yet...there are multiple accounts of the speech and the line-in-the-sand. And they aren't all derivative, either. There is at least one account that claims the church still had some part of the bell towers, although most historical accounts claim the towers were never built.
Incidentally, here's a page discussing the first-person accounts of the Alamo siege. Sadly, there is really no way to know every last detail of what happened. The single biggest question I have in reading the account of the final battle, is why were the Texians not expecting the attack on March 6th? The Alamo garrison could have actually held of the Mexican troops much longer had they been prepared. There are multiple accounts of only two of the twenty-two cannon in the Alamo being fired before the wall were overrun. However, that could be explained by an inability to depress the cannon to fire near the walls, and the Mexican army made it past the maximum depression range before the defenders were aware. Still, it is clear, in my opinion, that the Alamo defenders did not expect an attack at the time it came. Considering the accounts of last minute negotiations, and considering they were under truce, AND considering that the following year Santa Anna published a pamphlet defending his decision to attack when and how he did based on a previously unreported offer of surrender (that contradicted every other offer of surrender he had made in this campaign) that the Texians rejected with promises to attack the Mexican forces...
...well, we don't know all of the answers. I'll leave it up to you to make up your own mind.
Friday, March 6. 2015 | Comments (0)
Santa Anna issues his attack orders: Two columns attacking the weak north wall (a well-known weakness; Mexican troops had used the Alamo as a fortification many times), a column attacking the cattle pens from the east, and an attack from the south into the dirt barricade between the Alamo church and the main entrance (the station defended by Crockett and the Tennessee volunteers, which lends credence to the reports of Crockett being seen dead on the ground near the entrance to the courtyard of the church, which would have been in route to the fallback position from the barricade.) In addition, a fourth column was to circle the compound and be prepared to cut off escape or re-enforce.
Travis receives word that the Texian re-enforcements from Goliad turned back, and the re-enforcements from Gonzales aren't coming. Knowing that this means almost certain defeat, Travis grants permission for any man to leave. This moment is often amalgamated with an earlier pep-talk from Ben Milam, who was most likely the source of the "line in the sand" speech we're all familiar with. Milam was the man most directly responsible for driving the Mexican forces out of Bexar and the Alamo in December 1835. He was killed by a Mexican sniper at the Veramendi House in the center of town; the home of James Bowie's in-laws.
Thursday, March 5. 2015 | Comments (0)
While much has been made of Santa Anna's decision to take no prisoners from the battle, our narrow historical focus on the battle at the Alamo tends to ignore the fact that Santa Anna's entire campaign across the Northern Mexican territories has been one of extreme violence. The point, as he elaborated on (briefly) at the time, was to make an example of the rebels in the north. Bizarrely, a primary reason for this excess was Santa Anna's justifiable fear of U.S. interference. He apparently believed that a campaign of terror waged across the northern end of Mexico would suppress the Mexican colonists who lived there and frighten off any attempts by America to invade or annex.
Wednesday, March 4. 2015 | Comments (0)
This is probably the single most decisive day of the siege. The Alamo defenders receive sixty more reinforcements, and a message that 600 more are on the way. Men and supplies from Gonzales will take several days to reach Bexar, especially if they haven't actually left yet. Of course, as best as anyone can tell, Travis is still expecting 200 - 300 men from Goliad at any moment. Unfortunately, on this day Santa Anna receives his own reinforcements, bringing his troop total to around 1500 at the most conservative estimate to around 5000 at the most expansive. Most accounts put the Mexican presence at between 2000 and 3000 men. The biggest factors in arguing the troop size tend to rely on conventional wisdom regarding sieges and what information Santa Anna had, as there is no reliable account of either side's number.
Tuesday, March 3. 2015 | Comments (0)
As any Texan worth his mesquite (or pine, for you East-of-I35'ers) knows, March 2, 1836 is the day the Texas Declaration of Independence was completed and signed. The text is available under the fold for anyone who wishes to read or reproduce. I would like to thank LoneStarJunction.com for publishing a clearly and simply formatted version on their website.
However, there's another little somethin' I wanted to comment on. As is mentioned in the siege chronology link, it is an established fact that the Mexican army found a "hidden road" very near the Alamo. Unfortunately, there is no record of what the road was for; to wit, what was at the other end. Of course, understanding the concept of a "hidden road" may be a bit unusual for the modern reader, for whom "hiding a road" would seem a monumental task. The key is twofold. One, those of you who were taught that the Romans were the first people to build "roads" were lied to; the Romans were the first people (we think) to build what were essentially "highways" to facilitate rapid long-distance transport throughout the Roman Empire. A "path" is something that provides the ability to walk, run or ride a horse over open ground or through forest or brush, or around or over a mountain, without having to worry about bushes being in the way or tripping over massive rocks. A "road" usually refers to the same thing, except big enough for wagons or carriages or multiple people walking running or riding at the same time.
This was a really important concept to the entire world until the twentieth century, when technological advances made the use of "highways" mandatory. But back to the point: a "hidden road" near the Alamo was most likely a small road free of thick brush and littered rock common to the San Antonio area and with the unnumbered gullies and washes that covered the hilly terrain filled in. This road would have been narrow enough to be difficult to spot from a distance, but would have had it's opening near the Alamo disguised by brush. Most likely this road led to the river, which would have allowed access back to or beyond Bexar without being spotted by the Mexicans. Chances are this road had been used by the messengers sent out by Bowie and Travis early in the campaign.
The best known maps of the Bexar at the time of the siege were created by John D. Rullman, a city engineer for the city of San Antonio in 1912. He created these maps from older maps and first hand accounts:
Continue reading "March 2, 1836"
Monday, March 2. 2015 | Comments (0)
Intelligent observers may have noticed that we are now one day off, as 1836 was a leap year. So, while in 2015 we're celebrating Texas Independence Day, in 1836 that won't happen until tomorrow.
Sunday, March 1. 2015 | Comments (0)
There were three groups of rebels in Texas, and all were represented at the Alamo. Mexican citizens were fighting against Santa Anna's tyranny, and to restore Tejas's status as a semi-independent territory of Mexico under the abolished constitution of 1824. This group also counted some people who considered themselves "Tejanos" first, and Mexican second. Most Tejanos and self-proclaimed Texians were Mexican citizens in favor of complete independence from Mexico and the establishment of Texas as a separate country. There were also American citizens, most of which were recruited by Texians with the promise of land in return for military aid, who split between supporting U.S. statehood and an independent Texas. While a majority of long-time residents favored independence, Santa Anna's abandonment of the treaty he signed to end the Tejas Revolution pushed Tejanos and Texians to embrace U.S. statehood.
Saturday, February 28. 2015 | Comments (0)
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