Always dress well

This isn’t a fashion blog, but I do on occasion write on the topics of gentlemanliness, chappism, and such. Quite some time back I commented on an article on A Suitable Wardrobe, and referenced a Mises article titled Dress Like its the Great Depression. I’d like to follow up with a brief commentary on the Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes.

I’d never heard of “sapeurs” until a recent bit on NPR, but I am fascinated by them. Aside from the absolute bombast of some of their attire, I am captivated that in the midst of the poverty that surrounds them, they choose to dress to the nines.

Hector Mediavilla/Picturetank
(http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2013/05/07/181704510/the-surprising-sartorial-culture-of-congolese-sapeurs)

Now, given the examples one can find from an Internet search, some of the younger gents are a little too dandy for my tastes, but the older gentlemen dress quite well.

I understand the rebellion aspect of these Congolese gents, but I think it’s a great example of dressing well, even when the environment one finds himself in is in diametric opposition. Compare that to the United States, where even our poor are rich compared to the rest of the world, and we have people of all social strata walking around like this (I’ll not debase my site by actually posting any of these preposterous images).

The state of the Alabama State Defense Force

Back in December, I stumbled across an article online that the Alabama State Defense Force had been stood down. Having once been an officer in the ASDF, I was a bit disappointed to hear that. Being a bit of a militia advocate, I’ve commented on “militias” at various points on this site, and I used to maintain, as “signal officer”, the website of Company C, 103rd BN, 1st Infantry BDE, ASDF (the site is defunct now, and the Way Back Machine didn’t capture snapshots when I was listed on it).

I’ll not be so harsh as to claim that “Alabama bureaucrats squander away Alabama State Defense Force” the way the article I am referencing did, because I can sort of see why the ASDF was stood down. My experience was, that while those who volunteered sincerely wanted to be of service, the ASDF either was not given, or did not have, the capacity to be effective. And to be honest, having been honorably served in the Armed Forces, I wasn’t comfortable being a uniformed militiaman in public. Having served, I wasn’t a wannabee, and I didn’t want to be confused for a has-been. We also weren’t doing things that I thought were the most effective use of my time. I was interested in the historic notion of a militia, and not the quasi search and rescue role it was being used for.

All this led me to write a letter Governor Bentley to express my concern in the matter. I wish I had saved my correspondence, but to paraphrase, it was something to the effect of sadness that it had been stood down, an understanding of why it might have been based on my experience, and my hope that the goal was to effectively reorganize it.

To my delight, I received this response from the Governor today:

January 8, 2014

Dear Mr. Blevins:

Thank you for your letter which I received today regarding the Alabama State Defense Force (ASDF).

Since its creation in 1983, the ASDF has been a part of the Alabama Military Department under the Adjutant General. For the past several years, the ASDF has been informally transitioning from its original role as a replacement for the National Guard in the event of a full National Guard mobilization to the more relevant role of a disaster response augmentation element of the National Guard. The ASDF’s Cold War era structure, their low strength numbers, and other challenges have hindered this important transition.

In September of 2013, the Adjutant General made the decision to formalize the transition of the ASDF to maximize the organization’s utility to the National Guard and minimize liability to the state. This will ensure the organization is organized in line with the needs of the Alabama Military Department and best postured to help meet the potential needs of the state. The first step in this process was to stand down the old organization while adjustments to the structure, mission, and manning of the future organization are carefully staffed. The ASDF has not been abolished or disbanded. Current members of the ASDF are in an “inactive” status until the future structure, mission and manning of ASDF are determined.

Again, thank you for your interest in the ASDF. We appreciate all the patriotic Alabamians whom volunteer to serve in the Alabama National Guard and the ASDF.

Sincerely,

Robert Bentley
Governor

RB/pb/sw

This is the response I was hoping to see. It tells me that the ASDF is taken seriously, and that an honest evaluation was made of its current organization. I hope the Adjutant General, MG Perry G. Smith, is able to reorg the ASDF into a viable, and valuable, service to the State of Alabama.

Another reason why we won’t exist in future history

I’ve went on Luddite rants before, but a NextGov article titled Most Scientific Research Data from the 1990s is Lost Forever settles in my mind the impending technoclasm will erase us from history.

As a  Maître Jaques, I amateurishly dabble in many fields, but have not the skill to bountifully harvest from any of them. But even a simpleton such as I can see that we will be an enigma to future generations, who might see the ruins of our great civilization, but have no surviving record of what we were capable of. Unlike the Egyptians, we don’t leave much of our record in stone. Unlike the Greeks and Romans, we don’t even leave it in paper anymore. We’re more like the Atlanteans (they did exist didn’t they???). What other ancient civilizations existed that we have no record of because they chose to store their records to “advanced”, and fragile, means of storage. ?

The article mentioned that much of the lost data were stored on floppy disks. This reminded me of another article about the migration of the original source code of Prince of Persia a while back. Had the source code not been found when antique hardware was available to read the ancient formats, that effort would have been lost as well. This is the dilemma of digital storage: every so often, that which is saved in an old format must be moved to a newer format. Obsolete tech, bit rot, and what-have-you.
I have firsthand experience with the hassle this is. After my father died, I inherited all the old VHS family movies. For a couple years now, I’ve kept a VCR around, connected to a DVD burner, so that I can convert the movies to DVD, which I will then rip to some digital format, saved to my hard drive. So what do I do then? I have to back them up to something else in case of hard drive failure. What do I do a decade from now when I have to migrate to some newer platform? When does the value of the “memories” diminish to where it is not worth the effort? Do my kids or their kids really care to see what my siblings and I did growing up? I don’t know, but as the family archivist, I’ll go through the effort, because I don’t want to be the one to let the family stories and legends die.
We tried to address this in the 70s with the gold disks sent out on Voyagers 1 & 2. I don’t think we’ve done many such practical things since. I’ve seen a theory posited online that the apex of human civilization was 1975. I’ll not link to them, because they’re just as crackpotish as I am (or more¡), but when you look at how little “new” we’ve created since then, the theory sounds reasonable. We haven’t been to the moon since then. Intel invented the 4004 microprocessor in 1971. We still use a small arms platform designed by Eugene Stoner in 1958. Even the Space Shuttle was a 1960s design that would have launched years earlier had it not been for government bureaucracy. Everything we have done since has been advances on these innovations. Sure we have smaller, faster, lighter tech that wasn’t available then, but its all built off of the thinking from that era. Even Unix was invented in the late 60s and was in pretty good use by the early 70s. We’ve even reached the limits of Moore’s Law.
So what is the solution? If we want to be remembered as a civilization, we need to develop some type of high-density, analog format etched into a robust media, like the disks on Voyager. This Wikipedia entry has other peoples’ ideas. Or we drop back to one of my other favorite topics, Tribalism, and each small group ensures the survival of its own legacy through whatever means it chooses.

Blazon of William Blethyn’s Armorial Achievements

Arms emblazoned on William Blethyn’s Pedigree Roll

[Edited December 23, 2020 to correct inaccuracies in the blazons.]

A couple years ago I posted the William Blethyn pedigree roll with the promise of transcribing it. I’m a little behind schedule in following through with that, but I would like to make an attempt to blazon the arms attributed to him.

  • Arms: Quarterly, 1st and 4th, Gules, three chevronnels argent (Corenny hir Lydanwyn), 2nd, Azure, a chevron between three cocks combed, armed, and wattled gules (Meuric ap Tewdric), 3rd, Or, three lions passant guardant gules armed and langued azure, a crescent dexter chief for difference gules.
  • Crest: Upon a wreath of gules and argent, on a mound a Paschal Lamb proper, holding between its fore hooves a long cross argent from which flies a banner of the Cross of St. George.”
  • Motto: Et Mica Mihi (And a grain for me)


Requiescat in pace Jantzen Murrell Frazier

Yesterday, one of my 1st cousins, Jantzen Murrell Frazier, a US Army veteran who had survived two tours in Iraq, was killed while responding to a fire. He is survived by his wife, Leslie and four children, and his parents, Murrell and Debbie Frazier, and two grandmothers.

WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

I was a little over eight years older than Jantzen, and by the time he has an adult I had a family and we seldom talked, except for family get-togethers. I recall after he joined the Army that he had told his parents he was going to be stationed in Germany. As an only son, he knew how much they would worry if they really knew he was on his way to Iraq. During his two tours, he stared death in the face on multiple occasions. The articles below will attest to his actions in combat.
In the times that I talked with him after his return from combat, the greatest takeaway I had was his deep desire to continue serving. he was involved in several wounded warrior events. he talked proudly of his work with the marshals. I never really did understand what he was doing for them. I think his injuries held him back from the things he so greatly longed to do. Until he died yesterday, I didn’t even know he’d gotten involved with the Oden Ridge VFD. Jantzen was my maternal cousin, and I had paternal cousins who lived in the area. I live roughly an hour away, so I haven’t been to Oden Ridge to visit my family in years. My wife has cousins out there we see about once a year, so I’ve driven by where Jantzen had recently moved to several times over the years. I told him when he bought the house that he would be living a few doors down from my great-aunt Sharon. I’m a bit sad that I never had a chance to introduce him to them. I  hope the community will remember with honor the new guy who had only lived there a few months, but lost his life in their service.
Another thing I know jantzen was proud of was his gunsmithing. On multiple occasions he would talk of firearms he was working on for others, and he was proud of his own collection. I remember one story of when he lived in Hartselle and was up late one night cleaning his AR-15. Someone was in his garage attempting petty larceny, unaware of the armed combat vet just inside the house. Needless to say, the miscreant probably needed to change his pants after he escaped.

An account of Jantzen’s life as documented on the Internet:

More at ease in his jeans, T-shirt and baseball cap than his Army fatigues, Jantzen Frazier said the best parts of his brief visit home to Hartselle have been the food, his family, and the relief from the intense heat of the Iraqi desert.

U.S. Army Pfc. Jantzen Frazier, 19, of Hartselle has served with the 127th Aviation Support Battalion in Baghdad, Iraq since last December, where he repaired a variety of military vehicles.
Jantzen, son of Murrell and Debbie Frazier of Hartselle, arrived home Aug. 12 and is scheduled to return to service in Germany on Sept. 6. (Hartselle Enquirer, 25 August 2004, Hartselle soldier gets break from service in Iraq)

Sgt. Jantzen Frazier, was wounded in Iraq in December while on patrol in Taji, a town south of Baghdad. His father, Murrell Frazier, said an improvised explosive device exploded near his son’s vehicle. Shrapnel struck their son’s lower body.

Murrell Frazier said it took 234 stitches to close the wounds. Jantzen Frazier received a Purple Heart and is back on patrol in Iraq.

The Finis J. Self Chapter 2122 Order of the Purple Heart honored Frazier and Cpl. Jon-Erik Loney on Tuesday morning by placing their names on the Purple Heart Memorial in Hartselle.
“They are two of the youngest soldiers on the memorial,” Chapter Commander James Shaffran said. (Decatur Daily, 11 January 2007, Area warriors honored)

One memory that I remember from Iraq was kinda heart pounding at first then funny later on. It was when my platoon was taking the col and Csm out on patrol with us and the csm’s truck got hit by an ied. No one was injured but I saw the trigger man and started shooting the 240b then over the radio the col started yelling cease fire cease fire do you have pid. I was so pissed I keyed the mic and said I got fing pid … the whole time my finger never let go of the trigger. The only response I got back was well then give em hell and come see me when we get back to the fob. It wasn’t until I got back that I found out who I was yelling at. … This is why the col shouldn’t go out the gate with infantry because it’s a scouts job to do it lol. (Jantzen Frazier, 15 August 2011, One special Memory about your tour)

Zack Williams, an injured 304-pound rookie offensive lineman for the Carolina Panthers, plays a violent sport.

Jantzen Frazier of Hartsell, Ala., is an Iraq War veteran, a recipient of seven Purple Heart medals. In his last battle in 2007, he was wounded six times and broke his back in three places after he was blown out of a Humvee.The two met Tuesday when the wounded veteran asked the NFL rookie for his autograph at Bank of America Stadium during a real-time video game contest organized by the nonprofit Pro vs. GI Joe organization and the Panthers.

[Article continues…]

“It shows us that people care,” said George Bullem, a captain in the N.C. Army National Guard.
Easing readjustment

That’s what Frazier, 27, needed after his injuries forced him to leave the Army.

They came five days after he’d reenlisted “indefinitely.” He was on a 15-man patrol in three Humvees when a dump truck with 23,000 pounds of explosives rammed the convoy.
The blast destroyed two Humvees, and blew Frazier’s vehicle on its side, throwing Frazier out. Thirteen of his comrades died.
He was married and his first of four daughters had been born while he was in Iraq.
Still, he would have gone back.

“When you go into the military, you have a second family,” Frazier said. Readjustment was hard. Loud noises sent him to the ground. When he drove under a bridge, he’d change lanes so no one above would drop a bomb on him.

“I didn’t want to go out of the house,” he said.

Then he found the Pro vs. GI Joe organization, which also includes rehabilitation events.
Now he gets paid to go on the road with the group, helping set up and tear down events – and talking to recently wounded veterans.

“I feel I’m starting to come out of my shell,” Frazier said. “My family still doesn’t know what I did over there.

“But this has helped – I’m starting to feel alive again.” (Charlotte Observer, 4 November 2011, Pro Vs Joe News)

On Oct. 12, 2007, while on a patrol convoy in Taji in a command support unit with the 1st Cavalry Division, Frazier was manning his Humvee’s turret when his unit was attacked by insurgents.

Frazier was shot in the head. Seconds later, a second bullet ricocheted off his helmet and tore into his side. The impact knocked him unconscious and shattered several vertebras. Miraculously, his Kevlar helmet proved to be the young Soldier’s best weapon, stopping the quarter-size bullet millimeters from penetrating his brain.

Although he doesn’t remember much from that day — his memory muddled by one too many concussions – the helmet the young man has tucked away in a hall closet is his reminder of how he cheated death.

“That helmet saved my life,” the married father of two young girls said, adding that he also has the bullet that almost ended his life.

Call it being at the right place at the wrong time or the wrong place at the right time, Frazier had already survived numerous firefights, roadside bombs and sniper attacks during his two tours in Iraq. He was injured twice during his 2003-2004 tour, and at least three times during his 2006-2007 tour. But it was the Oct. 12, 2007, attack that jerked him from the battlefield and on to a medical evacuation flight first to Germany and then Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio where he spent several month recovering from severe back injuries and a swollen brain. In February 2008, he transferred to Fort Hood to what is now the Warrior Transition Brigade.

Frazier loves the Army and would gladly trade all of his Purple Hearts infor one more fight. He admits it will be difficult wearing civilian clothes instead of his uniform and size 13 boots on his nearly six-foot frame, but more importantly, he will miss “soldiering,” which is why the Warrior Games were so important to him. When he was in Colorado Springs, he was back to soldiering, marrying his rifle skills to Army mission. (Gloria Montgomery, 17 June 2010, Peck Funeral Home online Guest Book)

 Jantzen Murrell Frazier, 28, was headed south on Wilson Mountain Road to put out a fire at a neighbor’s house when the engine ran off the road and flipped, knocking down a utility pole, about 3 p.m., authorities said.

Frazier, the only person aboard, was killed instantly by blunt force trauma to the head, Morgan County Coroner Jeff Chunn said.

Oden Ridge Fire Chief Jeff Duffey said Frazier, a medically retired soldier and part-time U.S. marshal, was an “amazing guy.” (Decatur Daily, 17 October 2013, Firefighter killed in crash: Volunteer was decorated soldier, ‘amazing guy’)

~~~ 

Links:
http://www.woundedwarriorarena.org/ssp/player_profile?id=126
https://www.facebook.com/RememberingJantzenFrazier
http://www.purposedrivenrehab.org/ssp/2011_arizona_cardinals
http://tennesseevalleybugle.com/july2012/july2012.pdf
http://www.draft.org/Portals/0/Segs4Vets/Press%20Releases/SA%20Mobilizing%20America%20Pamphlet_04_28_10.pdf
http://www.soldierwall.com/wall.php?action=showSquare&squareId=13831
http://inagist.com/all/391001724158476288/
http://www.waff.com/story/23720778/first-responder-involved-in-wreck
http://www.alabamafirecollege.net/home/2013/10/19/eva-community-mourns-loss-of-oden-ridge-firefighter-jantzen-frazier-in-lodd-accident
http://apps.usfa.fema.gov/firefighter-fatalities/fatalityData/detail?fatalityId=4224
http://www.waaytv.com/news/local/volunteer-firefighter-and-wounded-veteran-jantzen-murrell-frazier-laid-to/article_a4af61e6-3c5b-11e3-bd8a-0019bb30f31a.html

Elisha James Blevins

As is often the case with genealogy, excellent research has already been done on a particular ancestor, if only you can find it. With regards to my 3rd great-grandfather, Elisha James Blevins, the research has already been done by Robin Sterling. For the sake of posterity, I’ll provide the link to original and a cached copy from the Way Back Machine.

The Shipwreck of Simonides

The Shipwreck of Simonides

A man, whose learned worth is known,
Has always riches of his own.
Simonides, who was the head
Of lyric bards, yet wrote for bread,
His circuit took through every town
In Asia of the first renown,
The praise of heroes to rehearse,
Who gave him money for his verse.
When by this trade much wealth was earn’d,
Homewards by shipping he return’d
(A Cean born, as some suppose):
On board he went, a tempest rose,
Which shook th’ old ship to that degree,
She founder’d soon as out at sea.
Some purses, some their jewels tie
About them for a sure supply;
But one more curious, ask’d the seer,
“Poet, have you got nothing here ?”
“My all,” says he, “is what I am.”-
On this some few for safety swam
(For most o’erburden’d by their goods,
Were smother’d in the whelming floods).
The spoilers came, the wealth demand,
And leave them naked on the strand.
It happen’d for the shipwreck’d crew
An ancient city was in view,
By name Clazomena, in which
There lived a scholar learned and rich,
Who often read, his cares to ease,
The verses of Simonides,
And was a vast admirer grown
Of this great poet, though unknown.
Him by his converse when he traced,
He with much heartiness embraced,
And soon equipp’d the bard anew,
With servants, clothes, and money too
The rest benevolence implored,
With case depicted on a board:
Which when Simonides espied,
“I plainly told you all,” he cried,
“That all my wealth was in myself;
As for your chattels and your pelf.
On which ye did so much depend,
They’re come to nothing in the end.” 

The Fables of Phaedrus Translated into English Verse. Phaedrus. Christopher Smart, A. M. London. G. Bell and Sons, Ltd. 1913. Retrieved from http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0119%3Abook%3D4%3Apoem%3D22