Archive for November 10th, 2007

More on the Aleutians war (WWII)

In the comments to the Special Projects page about the Aleutians War and the building the Al-Can highway, I’ve been tracking the newest documentary about the little known battles of Attu Island and others of the Aleutians, including Dutch Harbor / Unalaska.

However, because comments and pages have separate notifications on the Internet, I thought I would also post a separate notice, especially for those who read this web log with an RSS feed reader.

The latest published film was televised last week on the US Public Broadcasting System, Independent Lens. The film focuses on intimate interviews with Bill and Andy, the film explores what it means to be a soldier then and now. And for Bill, that means continuing the battle—even at the cost of his own peace of mind. and not on the battle details, per se. However, there is fascinating blended footage from the present day terrain morphing into the WWII terrain (actual footage or photos of the battle).

It is also a good presentation of the mixed emotions (and some rather unmixed) of veterans of the Pacific war. I had an uncle in Attu (Claude I. Green) who never spoke much of the Aleutian horror– part of the horror was the transfer from the tropical Marshall Islands to Attu without a change in uniforms (he was in the Navy). The monument is dedicated to all in the campaign (the necessity of which is also controversial still, as is the forced removal and internment of Alaskans by the USA.)

Aleutian Island documentary RED WHITE BLACK and BLUE is going to have a special one-hour broadcast on PBS November 6, and it’s going to be released on home video on November 7. We’re also finishing up some community screenings around the country, mostly in Florida, Michigan, and Indiana.

You can click the link below to read more about the film, get a list of upcoming local screenings, and broadcast information for your area, as well as information about how to purchase the film.

Thanks so much, and if you do get a chance to see the film we’d love to hear your thoughts.

Take care,
Tom Putnam

Here’s their website, http://www.alaskainvasion.com/

The Independent Lens website has a summary, several references to additional information, and a viewer feedback. Read more about the making of RED WHITE BLACK & BLUE »

See also previous
John Huston movie from the Aleutians
Al-Can Highway and the Aleutians War, Alaska in WWII


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Nonagenarian passion for solar

The problem with being ahead of one’s time is that it isn’t conducive to ever getting caught up. There must be a better way.

By Elizabeth Douglass, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
November 10, 2007

Forty years ago, Harold Hay came up with a way to heat and cool homes using water and the sun….

Now 98, Hay is making what he knows will be his final push.

The retired chemist promotes his cause by funding research. He vents his frustration in letters, e-mails, phone messages to anyone who will listen, and on his own website,

“The main point that he’s trying to make now is that all of our hopes are pinned on all of these complicated technologies, and it’s not that complicated. We could solve a lot of the problems by building our buildings correctly.”

Hay calls his invention the Skytherm system, and it was a wonder in the 1960s because it used the sun to heat and cool a home. The earliest version operated without any electricity, making it a purely passive solar technology.

Skytherm was the first of what’s known today as a roof-pond system….

Hay says he spearheaded the creation of the St. Louis Progressive Party, which helped get him labeled a communist. He came up with a chemical to purify drinking water, and he found a way to chemically toughen fiberboard to broaden its use. During World War II, the self-proclaimed pacifist worked on the development of synthetic rubber to avoid military service and jail. Along the way, almost as a hobby, Hays did groundbreaking research in the origins of medicine. […]

Read the very interesting article here
http://www.latimes.com/news/la-fi-haroldhay10nov10,0,3607880.story

His website is
This series of Needles is written by Harold R. Hay, Trustee, H.R. & E.J. Hay Charitable Trust, Los Angeles, CA. at the age of 97. Fifty years of dedicated research in solar energy, plus prior successes in government, industry and academia permit a broad evaluation of reasons why solar energy (not renewable energy – a culprit) is not more uniformly accepted. The fault is with all involved – including me.


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