Monthly Archives: August 2016

I shall return

Douglas MacArthur was reactivated into the US Army a few months before Pearl Harbor when it became apparent that the US would have to enter the war. MacArthur was put in charge of the defense of the Philippines. When the Japanese invaded MacArthur realized that Manila was not a good defensive position (which the Japanese also realized when the Allies invaded a few years later) so he took up a defensive position in Bataan and the fortress island of Corregidor just off the coast. The Allies dug in while they waited for reinforcements that were being promised to MacArthur. The US commend decided that the position in the Philippines was hopeless and no reinforcements would be sent. MacArthur was to be sacrificed and he vowed never to be taken alive even though he would not abandon his troops. Meanwhile…the Japanese were continuing to expand┬átheir empire in the Pacific and it looked like Australia would be invaded. The Australian government asked for their troops to be returned from their current assignment in North Africa. Churchill did not want to lose those troops which were critical to the North African campaign. The Australian government then made an offer to the Allies. They would not request their troops back IF they got a particular US General to lead the defense of Australia. The Japanese had blockaded the Philippines and MacArthur said he would not leave. The President finally ordered MacArthur to leave and told him that he would lead the counterattack against Japan from Australia. Reluctantly MacArthur got aboard a PT boat which managed to evade the Japanese fleet and got him to Australia. At that point MacArthur found out that he had been lied to and that there were no troops to lead a counterattack against the Japanese. He still took over the defense of Australia until enough troops and equipment were supplied to begin the attack against Japan in the Pacific.

(Book – American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964 – William Manchester)

We are even learning which traits we got from them

While Homo Sapiens were evolving in Africa the Neanderthals and closely related Denisovans were evolving in Europe and Asia. It now appears that modern humans began interbreeding with these groups around 100,000 years ago before they went extinct around 40,000 years ago. Sub-Saharan Africans never came in contact with these groups but the rest of modern humans have between 1-4% of their genome which came from Neanderthals and Denisovans.

(Magazine – Archaeology July/August 2016)

Speaking and signing use the same areas of the brain

Language appears to be unique in humans and there are two different dedicated areas of the brain for the production and understanding of language. If one of those areas is damaged a person can’t produce language but they can understand it. If the other area is damaged they can’t understand but they can produce language even though it is ‘nonsense’. This is not limited to spoken language. People who sign a language have the exact same problems with signing as a spoken language person would have with the same damaged areas.

(The Great Courses – Understanding the Brain)