On April 2, 1979, there was an unusual anthrax outbreak, which affected 94 people and killed at least 64 of them, in the Soviet city of Sverdlovsk, roughly 850 miles east of Moscow. The first victim died after four days. [T]he last one died six weeks later. The Soviet government claimed the deaths were caused by intestinal anthrax from tainted meat, a story some influential American scientists found believable. However, officials in the Carter Administration suspected the outbreak was caused by an accidental release of anthrax spores from a suspected Soviet biological weapons facility located in the city (Military Compound 19). The US believed that the Soviet Union was violating the Biological Weapons Convention signed in 1972 and made their suspicions public. But, the Soviets denied any activities relating to biological weapons and, at numerous international conferences, tried to prove their contaminated meat story. It wasn’t until thirteen years later, in 1992, that President Boris Yeltsin admitted, without going into details, that the anthrax outbreak was the result of military activity at the facility. [Russia] allowed a team of Western scientists to go to Sverdlovsk to investigate the outbreak. The team visited Sverdlovsk in June 1992 and August 1993 […].
Although the KGB had confiscated hospital and other records after the incident, the Western scientists were able to track where all the victims had been at the time of the anthrax release. Their results showed that on the day of the incident, all the victims were clustered along a straight line downwind from the military facility. Livestock in the same area also died of anthrax. After completing their investigation, the team concluded the outbreak was caused by a release of an aerosol of anthrax pathogen at the military facility. But, they were unable to determine what caused the release or what specific activities were conducted at the facility.
“Clogged filter, I removed it. Replace the filter”. [A] reminder on a piece of paper left [by a] factory worker […] to his mate when he went home on Friday evening…
Colonel Nicholas Cheryshev, shift supervisor at the plant, […] was in a hurry to go home and, for some unknown reason, was not aware of the lack of filter. In the end, the workers on the night shift, finding entries in the log window, quietly launched [the] equipment. [For] more than three hours, the plant was [throwing], into the air [of] the night sky of […] Sverdlovsk, portions [of] dried culture of anthrax. When the lack of bio-security was discovered, production was urgently stopped, […] the filter [replaced] and [they], quietly, continued working.
It was an accident at a clandestine biological weapons lab that allowed deadly anthrax spores to contaminate Sverdlovsk’s air, as evidence unearthed later would show. Over the years, as DNA sequencing technology has improved, scientists have been piecing together more and more information about the anthrax strain.
This facility has not been closed. It just went underground…literally. ~Vic
Sources & Additional Reading
Sverdlovsk Anthrax Leak (Adam Smith Institute)
1979 Anthrax Leak (PBS: Frontline)
How DNA Evidence Confirmed A Soviet Cover-Up (The Atlantic)
The Tragedy of Sverdlosk-19 (Weapon News)
Biohazard Book (Wikipedia)
Sverdlovsk Anthrax Leak (Wikipedia)
Forty-four years ago, today, the Apple Computer Company was founded by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, though Wayne sold his share back within 12 days. Headquartered in Cupertino, California, it grew from the “two Steves” into a multinational company. Jobs and Wozniak met in 1971 via mutual friend Bill Fernandez. Their partnership began with autodidact Wozniak’s blue boxes build and Jobs salesmanship. Jobs split the blue box profits with Wozniak.
Wozniak designed a video terminal and, new microcomputers, such as the Altair 8800 and the IMSAI, inspired [him] to build a microprocessor into his video terminal and have a complete computer. [He] designed computers on paper, waiting for the day he could afford a CPU. When MOS Technology released its 6502 chip in 1976, Wozniak wrote a version of BASIC for it, then began to design a computer for it to run on. When Jobs saw Wozniak’s computer, which would later become known as the Apple I, he was immediately interested in its commercial potential.
Initially, Wozniak intended to share schematics of the machine for free but, Jobs insisted that they should, instead, build and sell bare printed circuit boards for the computer. Jobs eventually convinced Wozniak to go into business together and start a new company of their own. According to Wozniak, Jobs proposed the name “Apple Computer” when he had just come back from Robert Friedland’s All-One Farm in Oregon. Jobs told Walter Isaacson that he was “…on one of my fruitarian diets…” when he conceived of the name and thought “…it sounded fun, spirited and not intimidating…plus, it would get us ahead of Atari in the phone book.”
The information on Apple, Jobs & Wozniak is extensive. This post is a mere highlight of its beginnings. I won’t be reinventing the wheel, here. I will say, though, that the very first computer I ever programmed on in 1983, using BASIC, was an Apple II. ~Vic
In an address to the demonstrators, King declared that the Vietnam War was “a blasphemy against all that America stands for.” He also stated that “we must combine the fervor of the civil rights movement with the peace movement.” King first began speaking out against American involvement in Vietnam in the summer of 1965.
In addition to his moral objections to the war, he argued that the war diverted money and attention from domestic programs to aid the black poor. He was strongly criticized by other prominent civil rights leaders for attempting to link civil rights and the antiwar movement.
Dr. King had never been neutral on the war in Vietnam but, he had been silent. He felt, as did the leaders of most other civil rights organizations, that the movement should concentrate on the domestic struggle. They were concerned that opposition to President Johnson’s foreign policy would result in loss of support for passing and enforcing civil rights laws at home. On July 5 1965, Dr. King told a college audience in Virginia that “the war in Vietnam must be stopped.” His friends and contacts in the Johnson Administration told him he was treading in dangerous waters and should back off.
By 1967, Dr. King was ready to speak his mind publicly. His first statement was made on February 25 at an anti-war conference in California, along with several Senators who also opposed the war. He said it was immoral and, also, took money and attention from the anti-poverty program. After the walk down State Street on March 25, Dr. King addressed a rally.
There are videos of March 25, 1965 and videos of April 1, 1967 but, nothing for this date. ~Vic
Sources & Additional Reading:
MLK Leads Chicago Antiwar March (The History Channel)
Vietnam War (Stanford University King Institute)
Jack D. Speigel (Chicago Tribune)
Saturday, March 25, 1967 (Wikipedia)
King At Chicago (Jo Freeman’s Website)
Leaving the 1520s and entering the 1540s…
Formally known as the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, the Staatskapelle Dresden is a Dresden-based German orchestra, one of the world’s oldest. Maurice, the Elector of Saxony (Prince Elector Moritz von Sachsen) founded it in 1548. Its precursor ensemble was Die Kurfürstlich-Sächsische und Königlich-Polnische Kapelle (The Electoral Saxon and Royal Polish Orchestra). The orchestra is the musical body of the Staatsoper Dresden (Dresden State Opera). The venue of the orchestra is the Semperoper.
Lovely music. ~Vic
Eine Alpensinfonie – Richard Strauss – Staatskapelle Dresden – Fabio Luisi
It’s Friday the 13th! Eek! Everybody…RUN! Hide! Yeah, well, enough of the hysteria. We have plenty of that going on with the corona beer virus. Sugar, rice, pasta, Clorox & Lysol hand wipes, bleach, hand sanitizer and toilet paper doesn’t stand a chance. Now, we have to deal with the dreaded number 13. E-gads! The humanity!
March 13 has been a rather busy day in history. Curiously, Uranus and Pluto are involved.
Uranus is the seventh planet from the sun. The name of Uranus references the ancient Greek deity of the sky Uranus, the father of Cronus (Saturn) and grandfather of Zeus (Jupiter) […]. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in [our] solar system and, […] is the only planet whose name is derived directly from a figure of Greek mythology. Uranus is similar in composition to Neptune and, both have bulk chemical compositions which differ from that of the larger gas giants Jupiter and Saturn. Uranus’ atmosphere is similar to Jupiter’s and Saturn’s in its primary composition of hydrogen and helium but, it contains more “ices” such as water, ammonia and methane […]. It has the coldest planetary atmosphere in the solar system […]. Like the other giant planets, Uranus has a ring system, a magnetosphere and numerous moons. The Uranian system has a unique configuration because its axis of rotation is tilted sideways, nearly into the plane of its solar orbit. Its north and south poles, therefore, lie where most other planets have their equators. Voyager 2 remains the only spacecraft to visit the planet.
Like the classical planets, Uranus is visible to the naked eye but, it was never recognised as a planet by ancient observers because of its dimness and slow orbit. [Two hundred, thirty-nine years ago, today], Sir William Herschel first observed Uranus on March 13, 1781 (from the garden of his house at 19 New King Street in Bath, Somerset, England, now the Herschel Museum of Astronomy), leading to its discovery as a planet, expanding the known boundaries of the solar system for the first time in history and making Uranus the first planet classified as such with the aid of a telescope.
Pluto is an icy dwarf planet in the Kuiper belt, a ring of bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune. It was the first Kuiper belt object to be discovered and is the largest known dwarf planet. Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930 as the ninth planet from the Sun. After 1992, its status as a planet was questioned following the discovery of several objects of similar size in the Kuiper belt. In 2005, Eris, a dwarf planet in the scattered disc which is 27% more massive than Pluto, was discovered. This led the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to define the term “planet”, formally, in 2006, during their 26th General Assembly. That definition excluded Pluto and reclassified it as a dwarf planet.
It is the ninth-largest and tenth-most-massive known object directly orbiting the Sun. It is the largest known trans-Neptunian object by volume but, is less massive than Eris. Like other Kuiper belt objects, Pluto is primarily made of ice and rock and, is relatively small…about one-sixth the mass of the Moon and one-third its volume. It has a moderately eccentric and inclined orbit […]. This means that Pluto periodically comes closer to the Sun than Neptune but, a stable orbital resonance with Neptune prevents them from colliding.
[Observations] of Neptune in the late 19th century led astronomers to speculate that Uranus’s orbit was being disturbed by another planet besides Neptune. In 1906, Percival Lowell, a wealthy Bostonian who had founded [the] Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, in 1894, started an extensive project in search of a possible ninth planet, which he termed “Planet X“. Lowell and his observatory conducted his search until his death in 1916 but, to no avail. Unknown to Lowell, his surveys had captured two faint images of Pluto on March 19 and April 7, 1915 but, they were not recognized for what they were.
Percival’s widow, Constance Lowell, entered into a ten-year legal battle with the Lowell Observatory over her husband’s legacy and the search for Planet X did not resume until 1929. [23-year-old] Clyde Tombaugh, who had just arrived at the observatory, discovered a possible moving object on photographic plates on February 18, 1930. After the observatory obtained further confirmatory photographs, news of the discovery was telegraphed to the Harvard College Observatory ninety years ago, today, on March 13, 1930. Pluto has yet to complete a full orbit of the Sun since its discovery, as one Plutonian year is 247.68 years long.
The discovery made headlines around the globe. Lowell Observatory, which had the right to name the new object, received more than 1,000 suggestions from all over the world, ranging from Atlas to Zymal. Constance Lowell proposed Zeus, then Percival and finally Constance. These suggestions were disregarded. The name Pluto, after the god of the underworld, was proposed by Venetia Burney (1918–2009), an eleven-year-old schoolgirl in Oxford, England, who was interested in classical mythology.
Launched on September 5, 1843, the very first USS Princeton was a steam-driven propeller warship of the U.S. Navy, commanded by Captain Robert Stockton. It was the first screw-sloop in the fleet. During a cruise down the Potomac River with President John Tyler, federal officials, politicians, attorneys, a former First Lady and several hundred guests, there was a terrible long gun explosion, due, possibly to old forging technology.
President Tyler hosted a public reception for Stockton in the White House on February 27, 1844. On February 28, [the] USS Princeton departed Alexandria, Virginia, on a demonstration cruise down the Potomac with Tyler, members of his cabinet, former First Lady Dolley Madison, Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri and about 400 guests. Captain Stockton decided to fire the larger of her two long guns, Peacemaker, to impress his guests. Peacemaker was fired three times on the trip downriver and was loaded to fire a salute to George Washington as the ship passed Mount Vernon on the return trip. The guests aboard viewed the first set of firings, [then] retired below decks for lunch and refreshments.
Secretary [of the Navy] [Thomas Walker] Gilmer urged those aboard to view a final shot with the Peacemaker. When Captain Stockton pulled the firing lanyard, the gun burst. Its left side had failed, spraying hot metal across the deck and shrapnel into the crowd. Instantly killed were Gilmer, Secretary of State [Abel P.] Upshur, Captain Beverley Kennon, who was Chief of the Bureau of Construction [Equipment] and Repairs, Virgil Maxcy (a Maryland attorney with decades of experience as a state and federal officeholder), David Gardiner (a New York lawyer and politician) and the President’s valet, a black slave named Armistead. Another 16 to 20 people were injured, including several members of the ship’s crew, Senator Benton and Captain Stockton. The president was below decks and not injured.
The disaster on board the Princeton killed more top U.S. government officials in a single day than any other tragedy in American history.
Additional Reading & Sources
Fatal Cruise of the Princeton (Naval History/military.com/Wayback Machine)
USS Princeton (ibiblio.org)
Princeton I (Naval History and Heritage Command site)
Accident on a Steam Ship (Google Books)
Tyler Narrowly Escapes Death (The History Channel site)
How the USS Princeton explosion changed U.S. history.
They really wanted Galileo to shut up. Four hundred, four years, today, the Catholic Church was nearly successful with an injunction. Referred to as the Galileo Affair, it started in 1610 and ended in 1633 with the Roman Inquistion.
Galileo got into trouble for supporting Copernican Heliocentrism, the mathematical model put forth by Nicolaus Copernicus (see Copernican Revolution), that suggested the Earth, and other planets, revolve around the sun at the center of the Solar System, opposing Geocentrism, backed by the Catholic Church.
In 1610, Galileo published his Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger), describing the surprising observations that he had made with [a] new telescope, among them, the Galilean Moons of Jupiter. With these observations, and additional observations that followed, such as the phases of Venus, he promoted the heliocentric theory of Nicolaus Copernicus published in De revolutionibus orbium coelestium in 1543. Galileo’s discoveries were met with opposition within the Catholic Church and, in 1616, the Inquisition declared heliocentrism to be “formally heretical.” Heliocentric books were banned and Galileo was ordered to abstain from holding, teaching or defending heliocentric ideas.
On February 19, 1616, the Inquisition asked a commission of theologians, known as qualifiers, about the propositions of the heliocentric view of the universe. [It was] confirmed that Galileo had advocated the Copernican doctrines of a stationary Sun, and a mobile Earth, and as a consequence, the Tribunal of the Inquisition would have eventually needed to determine the theological status of those doctrines.
On February 24, the Qualifiers delivered their unanimous report:
“[The] proposition that the Sun is stationary at the centre of the universe is foolish and absurd in philosophy and, formally, heretical since it explicitly contradicts, in many places, the sense of Holy Scripture. [The] proposition that the Earth moves and is not at the centre of the universe receives the same judgement in philosophy and … in regard to theological truth, it is at least erroneous in faith.”
At a meeting of the cardinals of the Inquisition on the following day, Pope Paul V instructed [Cardinal] Bellarmine to deliver this result to Galileo and to order him to abandon the Copernican opinions. [Should] Galileo resist the decree, stronger action would be taken. On February 26, Galileo was called to Bellarmine’s residence and ordered:
“[To] abstain completely from teaching or defending this doctrine and opinion or, from discussing it… to abandon completely… the opinion that the [Sun] stands still at the center of the world and the [Earth] moves and, henceforth, not to hold, teach or defend it in any way whatever, either orally or in writing.”
Galileo accepted the order. He didn’t have much choice as his reputation was at stake. Shortly afterwards, all books regarding the Copernican system were banned and Galileo’s works regarding Copernicanism were banned as well. His sentence prevented him from teaching or speaking of the matter further. He remained silent only for so long.
Very interesting take on what actually happened…
Also known as the Second Treaty of Indian Springs or Treaty with the Creeks, one-hundred, ninety-five years ago, today, it was signed by the Muscogee and the U.S. government at the Indian Springs Hotel (now a museum).
The U.S. and the Muscogee had, previously, signed the Treaty of Indian Springs of 1821. On January 8, the Muscogee agreed to cede their land holdings east of the Flint River to the state of Georgia in exchange for $200,000, paid in installments.
Letter from December 14, 1824 (Digital Library of Georgia):
[…] Duncan Campbell and James Meriwether, U.S. Commissioners, [wrote] to Georgia Governor George M. Troup regarding obstacles the commissioners [faced] in treating with the Creeks. They [related] that proceedings [were] being conducted orally since the written method [had] failed. Also, the publication of negotiations held at Tucabatchee (Tuckabatchee or Tuckabatchie) and Pole Cat Springs [had] spread alarm throughout the nation as [had] the persistent “interference” of the Cherokees. Campbell and Meriwether negotiated the Treaty of Indian Springs [of] 1825 that was unauthorized by a majority of Creeks and, later, abrogated by the United States.
The treaty that was agreed [to] was negotiated with six chiefs of the Lower Creek, led by William McIntosh. McIntosh agreed to cede all Muscogee lands east of the Chattahoochee River, including the sacred Ocmulgee National Monument (Historic Park), to Georgia and Alabama and, accepted relocation west of the Mississippi River to an equivalent parcel of land along the Arkansas River. In compensation for the move to unimproved land, and to aid in obtaining supplies, the Muscogee nation would receive $200,000 (again), paid in decreasing installments over a period of years. An additional $200,000 was paid directly to McIntosh.
Governor Troup, and most Georgians, were in favor of the treaty and his inside man was his first cousin…William McIntosh. McIntosh paid the highest price. According to a Creek law, that McIntosh, himself, had supported, a sentence of execution awaited any Creek leader who ceded land to the United States without the full assent of the entire Creek Nation. Just before dawn on April 30, 1825, Upper Creek chief Menawa, accompanied by 200 Creek warriors (The Law Menders), attacked McIntosh at Lockchau Talofau (Acorn Bluff/McIntosh Reserve) to carry out the sentence. They set fire to his home, shot and stabbed him to death and, [killed] the elderly Coweta chief Etomme Tustunnuggee. Chillie McIntosh, the chief’s oldest son, had also been sentenced to die but, he escaped by diving through a window. Later that day, the Law Menders found [Samuel and Benjamin Hawkins, Jr.] (McIntosh’s sons-in-law), who were also signatories. They hanged Samuel and shot Benjamin but, he escaped.
A large majority of chiefs and warriors objected that McIntosh did not have sufficient authority to sign treaties or cede territory. [The] Creek Nation sent a delegation, led by Opothleyahola and [included] Menawa, to lodge an official complaint. Federal investigators (appointed by President John Quincy Adams) agreed and the U.S. government negotiated a new land cession in the 1826 Treaty of Washington. The Creeks did not, however, have their territory restored in the new treaty.
Though the Creek did retain a small tract of land on the Georgia-Alabama border and the Ocmulgee National Monument, Governor Troup refused to recognize the new treaty. [He] authorized all Georgian citizens to evict the Muscogee and ordered the land surveyed for a lottery, including the piece that was to remain in Creek hands. He threatened an attack on Federal troops if they interfered with the [previous] treaty and challenged [the President]. The president intervened with Federal troops but, Troup called out the state militia, and Adams, fearful of a civil war, conceded.
The government allowed Troup to quickly renegotiate the agreement and seize all remaining Creek lands in the state. By 1827, the Creeks were gone from Georgia. Within eight years, most of them would be relocated from Alabama to the designated Indian Territory (modern Oklahoma).
I’m still digging around in the old stuff. I found this piece and thought it interesting.
Messe de Nostre Dame (Mass of Our Lady) is a polyphonic mass composed before 1365 by French poet and composer Guillaume de Machaut […]. Widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of medieval music, and of all religious music, it is historically notable as the earliest complete setting of the Ordinary of the Mass attributable to a single composer […].
The Messe de Nostre Dame consists of 5 movements: the Kyrie (Eleison…”Lord, have mercy”), Gloria (in Excelsis Deo…”Glory to God in the highest”), Credo (Nicene Creed), Sanctus (“Holy”) and Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”), followed by the dismissal Ite, missa est (Mass Response: Deo Gratias or “Thanks be to God”). The tenor of the Kyrie is based on Vatican Kyrie IV, the Sanctus and Agnus correspond to Vatican Mass XVII and the Ite is on Sanctus VIII. The Gloria and Credo have no apparent chant basis, although they are stylistically related to one another. Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame is for four voices rather than the more common three. Machaut added a contratenor voice that moved in the same low range as the tenor, sometimes replacing it as the lowest voice.
The information is rather wonky and, not only have I never studied music theory, my education on Catholic Mass is limited to a short stint as a member in an Anglican church in Austin, TX, a decade ago. That being said, what I find fascinating about this composition is that Machaut combined each part into an artistic whole, the earliest known example of it unified. Previously, the items were performed non-consecutively and, separated by prayers and chants.
[Instrumental Version of The Kyrie by Guillaume de Machaut]
[Modern Take on Kyrie by Patrick Lenk]
And, just because I could, I’m ending with Mr. Mister.
Two months ago, on December 7, 2019, I visited Alamance Battleground with my buddy Ray. I posted the first batch of pictures on December 8, intending to post the rest on December 14. For obvious reasons, that didn’t happen so, here are the rest.
All photos are my personal collection. © ~Vic
I’ve been digging around, looking for something interesting. Back in September 2019, I posted about Billboard locking down/wiping out their online charts behind a paywall. I don’t know if this is a fluke or if they got a lot of blow-back for what they did but, the charts have reappeared (their Hot 100 era). Ok. Good. Time will tell if they stay. And, I hope they did get some blow-back. Assholes.
Now that I got that off my chest, on to other stuff.
Wikipedia has a timeline of musical events (Yeah. I know. Wikipedia is hardly a bastion of truth but, seems to be a bit less haphazard with music, plants, animals, cars and finding a U.S. town.) I stumbled across the Seikilos Epitaph, a short, little marble tombstone with poetry/lyrics/text, with musical notation, written in Greek. It is unusual and unique because it is the oldest, intact musical composition in the world. It was found in Tralles, Turkey, an ancient, Hellenistic town where Aydin exists, now. The lyrics:
Ὅσον ζῇς φαίνου
μηδὲν ὅλως σὺ λυποῦ
πρὸς ὀλίγον ἔστι τὸ ζῆν
τὸ τέλος ὁ χρόνος ἀπαιτεῖ.
hóson zêis, phaínou
mēdèn hólōs sù lupoû
pròs olígon ésti tò zên
tò télos ho khrónos apaiteî.
While you live, shine
have no grief at all
life exists only for a short while
and time demands his due.
The dedication was partially destroyed and could read:
“Seikilos to Euterpe”, possibly his wife (also the name of the Muse of Music)
“Seikilos, son of Euterpes”
The inscription reads:
Εἰκὼν ἤ λίθος εἰμί. τίθησί με Σεικίλος ἔνθα μνήμης ἀθανάτου σῆμα πολυχρόνιον.
eikṑn ḗ líthos eimí. títhēsí me Seikílos éntha mnḗmēs athanátou sêma polukhrónion.
“I am a tombstone, an image. Seikilos placed me here as a long-lasting sign of deathless remembrance.”
Take a listen:
Here is another version, based upon the inscription being dedicated to a wife:
Song of Seikilos (Classic FM website)
Back in May, I did a post on the Battle of Alamance so, I won’t revisit the historical details. Yesterday, I visited the actual battleground with my buddy, Ray. They were having German Heritage Day with authentic German food for visitors. I was so glad we had a beautiful day. It was chilly but, there was a really good turnout. I hadn’t been to this site in nearly 45 years.
All photos are my personal collection. © ~Vic
More to come…
[Note: The finding of the abandoned Mary Celeste is sometimes listed as December 5, 1872. This is due to time differences between “Civil Time” (land time) and “Sea Time”.]
A merchant brigantine, the Mary Celeste was built at Spencer’s Island, Nova Scotia and launched under British registration as Amazon in 1861. She was transferred to American ownership and registration in 1868 when she acquired her new name. Thereafter, she sailed, uneventfully, until her 1872 voyage.
[She was] discovered adrift and deserted in the Atlantic Ocean off the Azores Islands on December 4, 1872. The Canadian brigantine Dei Gratia found her in a disheveled but seaworthy condition under partial sail and with her lifeboat missing. The last entry in her log was dated ten days earlier.
She left New York City for Genoa on November 7 and [the] Dei Gratia departed for Gibraltar on November 15, following the same general route eight days [later]. [She] was still amply provisioned when found. Her cargo of denatured alcohol was intact and, the captain’s and crew’s personal belongings were undisturbed. None of those who had been on board were ever heard from again.
At the salvage hearings in Gibraltar following her recovery, the court’s officers considered various possibilities of foul play, including mutiny by Mary Celeste’s crew, piracy by the Dei Gratia crew or others and conspiracy to carry out insurance or salvage fraud. No convincing evidence supported these theories but, unresolved suspicions led to a relatively low salvage award.
The inconclusive nature of the hearings fostered continued speculation as to the nature of the mystery and, the story has repeatedly been complicated by false detail and fantasy. Hypotheses that have been advanced include the effects on the crew of alcohol fumes rising from the cargo, submarine earthquakes (seaquakes), waterspouts, attack by a giant squid and paranormal intervention. The story of her 1872 abandonment has been recounted and dramatized many times in documentaries, novels, plays and films and, the name of the ship has become a byword for unexplained desertion.
[Were] it not for Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle, struggling to establish himself as a writer prior to creating Sherlock Holmes, perhaps the world would not have ever known or cared [about the ship]. Conan Doyle’s short story about the ‘Marie Celeste‘ (he changed the name from Mary) turned a minor puzzle into one of the most famous legends of the sea. Nevertheless, we should recognise it was fiction, for which his editor paid 30 Pounds, […] a respectable sum in 1884.
Smithsonian Documentary Clip
[A] cat, a flask of poison and a radioactive source are placed in a sealed box. If an internal monitor (e.g. Geiger counter) detects radioactivity (i.e. a single atom decaying), the flask is shattered, releasing the poison, which kills the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that, after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when one looks in the box, one sees the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead. This poses the question of when, exactly, quantum superposition ends and reality collapses into one possibility or the other.
[Schrödinger] intended the example [above] to illustrate the absurdity of the existing view of quantum mechanics:
One can even set up quite ridiculous cases. A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following device (which must be secured against direct interference by the cat): in a Geiger counter, there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small, that perhaps in the course of the hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none. [If] it happens, the counter tube discharges and, through a relay, releases a hammer that shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the cat still lives if, meanwhile, no atom has decayed. The first atomic decay would have poisoned it. The psi-function of the entire system would express this by having in it the living and dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts.
It is typical of these cases that an indeterminacy originally restricted to the atomic domain becomes transformed into macroscopic indeterminacy, which can then be resolved by direct observation. That prevents us from so naively accepting as valid a “blurred model” for representing reality. In itself, it would not embody anything unclear or contradictory. There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks.
Schrödinger’s famous thought experiment poses the question, “when does a quantum system stop existing as a superposition of states and become one or the other?”
The EPR Paradox was a thought experiment proposed by physicists Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen (EPR) that they interpreted as indicating that the explanation of physical reality provided by quantum mechanics was incomplete (PDF).
One-hundred, three years ago, today, the HMHS Britannic, sister ship to the RMS Titanic, sank in the Aegean Sea. On its way to pick up more wounded soldiers near the Gulf of Athens, a loud explosion shook the ship at 8:12am.
In the wake of the Titanic disaster on April 14, 1912, the White Star Line made several modifications in the construction of its already-planned sister ship. First, the name was changed from Gigantic to Britannic and the design of the hull was altered to make it less vulnerable to icebergs. In addition, it was mandated that there be enough lifeboats on board to accommodate all passengers, which had not been the case with the Titanic.
The nearly 50,000-ton luxury vessel was launched in 1914 but, was requisitioned soon afterward by the British government to serve as a hospital ship during World War I. In this capacity, Captain Charlie Bartlett led the Britannic on five successful voyages bringing wounded British troops back to England from various ports around the world.
[Immediately after the explosion], Captain Bartlett ordered the closure of the watertight doors and sent out a distress signal. However, the blast had already managed to flood six whole compartments, even more extensive damage than that which had sunk the Titanic. Still, the Britannic had been prepared for such a disaster and would have stayed afloat except for two critical matters.
First, Captain Bartlett decided to try to run the Britannic aground on the nearby island of Kea. This might have been successful but, earlier, the ship’s nursing staff had opened the portholes to air out the sick wards. Water poured in through the portholes as the Britannic headed towards Kea. Second, the disaster was compounded when some of the crew attempted to launch lifeboats without orders. Since the ship was still moving as fast as it could, the boats were sucked into the propellers, killing those on board.
Less than 30 minutes later, Bartlett realized that the ship was going to sink and ordered it abandoned. The lifeboats were launched and even though the Britannic sank at 9:07, less than an hour after the explosion, nearly 1,100 people managed to make it off the ship. In fact, most of the 30 people who died were in the prematurely launched lifeboats.
In 1975, famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau found the Britannic lying on its side 400 feet below the surface of the Aegean.
“She dipped her head a little, then a little lower and still lower. All the deck machinery fell into the sea like a child’s toys. Then, she took a fearful plunge, her stern rearing hundreds of feet into the air until with a final roar, she disappeared into the depths, the noise of her going resounding through the water with undreamt-of violence…”
Britannic was the largest ship lost in the First World War.
The cause, whether it was a torpedo from an enemy submarine or a mine, was not apparent. It would later be revealed that the mines were planted in the Kea Channel on October 12, 1916, by SM U-73 under the command of Gustav Sieß (German language link).
From the TV Film
Last year, I did a post on World War I for Veterans Day as it had been 100 years, exactly, since the end of that war. I also covered how other countries memorialize and/or celebrate and, ended the post with two poems. I’ve written in a previous post about my almost Army brat status and referred to my significant other in this post.
Ken’s first foray into the ‘military’ was the Hargave Military Academy in Virginia. His mother sent him there for summer school to assist with grades after a poor eighth grade year. He stayed for his ninth grade year and did very well. Unfortunately, it was extremely expensive and he returned to regular high school for tenth grade.
At the end of his junior year, he’d had enough of regular high school and made it clear to his mother that he wanted to go into the Navy. The military was all he was interested in. So, at the tender age of 17, his mother signed him into service. He went into the reserves for two years and began to train as a Corpsman. His sea duties were aboard the USS Robinson (DD-562), a Fletcher Class destroyer, the second ship in the Navy to be named after Captain Isaiah Robinson (Continental Navy). The “Robbie” received eight battle stars for World War II service and appeared in the movie Away All Boats.
After two years of training, he went active duty…and the Navy lost its mind. Orders to report to his new ship in hand, he was sent to Charleston, SC, to be assigned to the USS Canisteo (AO-99), a Cimarron Class fleet oiler, named for the Canisteo River in New York and the only ship to bear that name. It’s crew received nine medals.
Unfortunately, upon his arrival, there was no ship to board. The Charleston Naval Base had no record of it being there and, in the meantime, he was sent to the transit barracks. While waiting, he volunteered to be a lifeguard for a week. The remaining time was spent waiting at the barracks. After three weeks, the Navy adjusted his orders and sent him to Norfolk Naval Base, the home port of the Canisteo. Upon arrival, no ship. He was, again, assigned to the transit barracks…until they could find the ship. After a four-day wait, the Navy adjusted his orders a second time and he was sent to the Brooklyn Naval Shipyard. The shipyard had no record of the Canisteo being there so, he was sent…a-gain…to the transit barracks. His ship was finally found at the Todd Shipyards in Red Hook Brooklyn, a civilian shipyard. With his orders in hand (now, a rather large portfolio of paperwork), stamped by the Navy (adjusted a third time), he headed to his ship. He reported to the Officer of the Deck and was told that he had been reported AWOL. The OOD examined the orders, informed him that his Corpsman striker slot had been filled due to his (unintended) absence and, just like that, he was transformed into part of the deck force, wiping out two years of training. He became a Bosun’s Mate striker. *facepalm*
He left active service in 1964 and rolled into the IRR, waiting for the end of his contract to expire. On March 8, 1965, Marines landed near Da Nang, marking the beginning of the ground war in Vietnam. Ken was working a full time job and was watching what was going on. By the summer of 1966, he decided that he was going to go back to the Navy, interested in the River Patrol (and PBRs) and went to see a prior service recruiter. The recruiter told him that the Navy would not give him his rank back. Ken left his office and was stopped by a Marine recruiter in the hallway. He told him to go back in and ask about the Seabees. He did so and the Navy prior service recruiter changed his tune. Off he went to Camp Endicott in Rhode Island for training. He was assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 and sent to Gulfport, Home of the Seabees.
He arrived in Vietnam in July of 1967. His base was Camp Haskins on Red Beach in Da Nang. The Marines were on Monkey Mountain across the bay and at Da Nang Air Base in the opposite direction, across the highway. At the beginning of the Tet Offensive, the bombing of the Air Base in January of 1968 nearly knocked Ken out of a guard tower. He was designated a builder and did his share of such but, spent most of his time running patrols with the Marines.
On November 3, 1967, a fellow Seabee had an accident with a saw while cutting some wood. A sawhorse shifted and the man injured himself, accidentally. The blade cut an artery in his thigh and Ken’s Corpsman training kicked in. He, literally, stuck his hand into the guy’s thigh to clamp the artery with his thumb and forefinger. When the rescue helicopter arrived, the coagulated blood on Ken’s arm prevented him from being able to remove his hand from the guy’s thigh. Ken got a free ride in the helicopter to the hospital with his charge. A life was saved (the actual details are pretty gruesome).
And, this concludes my long-ass tribute to my Fleet Navy/Vietnam Seabee veteran. If you have a veteran in your life…hug them. ~Vic
[Addendum: When I moved in with Ken some years ago, I was looking at his DD-214. He swore he only had one and I saw from the data that he had two. We sent off for his records and, sure enough, there were two. I discovered that, when he went to the prior service recruiter, the guy didn’t bother to check to see if Ken was still on contract. He was and, had he checked, Ken could have returned to the Navy, with rank intact, and left for Vietnam as part of the Brown Water Navy…and most likely died. The life span of PBR guys was fairly short.]
The caption above reads:
On July 1, 1940, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge was opened to traffic. This picture, taken from the air during dedication ceremonies, plainly shows three unusual characteristics of design: (1) Extremely narrow deck – 39′; (2) extreme length of suspension span – 2800′; (3) the solid stiffening girders used in the place of orthodox truss girders. Use of the solid girders is commonly blamed for the collapse.
[A] suspension bridge in [Washington State] that spanned the Tacoma Narrows strait of Puget Sound, between Tacoma and the Kitsap Peninsula, [it] opened to traffic on July 1, 1940. The bridge’s collapse has been described as “spectacular” and in subsequent decades “has attracted the attention of engineers, physicists and mathematicians”. Throughout its short existence, it was the world’s third-longest suspension bridge by main span, behind the Golden Gate Bridge and the George Washington Bridge.
Construction began in September 1938. From the time the deck was built, it began to move vertically in windy conditions, so, construction workers nicknamed the bridge Galloping Gertie. The motion continued after the bridge opened to the public, despite several damping measures. The bridge’s main span finally collapsed in 40-mile-per-hour (64 km/h) winds on the morning of November 7, 1940. Efforts to replace the bridge were delayed by the United States’ entry into World War II […]. The portion of the bridge that fell into the water now serves as an artificial reef.
The bridge’s collapse had a lasting effect on science and engineering. In many physics textbooks, the event is presented as an example of elementary forced resonance. [The] bridge collapsed because normal speed winds produced aeroelastic flutter that matched the bridge’s natural frequency. The collapse boosted research into bridge aerodynamics-aeroelastics, which has influenced the designs of all later long-span bridges.
I saw the Narrows bridge die today and only by the grace of God, escaped dying with it…
I drove on the bridge and started across. Just as I drove past the towers, the bridge began to sway violently from side to side. Before I realized it, the tilt became so violent that I lost control of the car…I jammed on the brakes and got out, only to be thrown onto my face against the curb. Around me I could hear concrete cracking. The car, itself, began to slide from side to side on the roadway. I decided the bridge was breaking up and my only hope was to get back to shore. On hands and knees most of the time, I crawled 500 yards or more to the towers. My breath was coming in gasps…my knees were raw and bleeding, my hands bruised and swollen from gripping the concrete curb. Toward the last, I risked rising to my feet and running a few yards at a time. Safely back at the toll plaza, I saw the bridge in its final collapse and saw my car plunge into the Narrows.
[See also Tubby The Dog]
Some Bridge Facts:
♦ [The] entire 1940 bridge did not collapse into the water, though most of the center span did fall. The side spans were badly damaged and the 2 big towers got bent beyond repair […]. It would be 10 years before the bridge was replaced.
♦ [Due] to the undulating motions up and down […], you could be driving across it and, the car ahead of you might dip out of view. Sometimes the roadway would rise above the height of a car […].
♦ The 1940 bridge remains at the bottom of the water have provided a place for sealife [sic] that was not there, before and much of the life includes the giant Pacific octopus as well as lingcod, wolf eels and black seabass [sic].
♦ (Referencing the image at the very top…) Did a ship go under the bridge for opening day in 1940? Yes, it is true…the ship Atlanta was a Coast Guard Cutter. Ironically, not only was it the first ship to go under the bridge on opening day July 1, 1940, it was also the last ship to travel under the bridge before it collapsed […]. When the concrete started to crumble and fall off, the ship was underneath and pieces fell on her deck. Luckily, no pieces were big enough to cause any damage to the ship and the ship’s Commander was one of the first to report the collapse.
Eight hundred, two years ago, today, the Charter of the Forest (Carta Foresta) was declared and sealed by young King Henry III (a nine year old boy under the regency of William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke I). Issued at St. Paul’s Cathedral, it evolved out of the Magna Carta and re-examined Forest Law.
William the Conqueror established the system of Norman law, proclaiming forests as ‘preserves’, restricting hunting and use by local inhabitants not of the monarchy or aristocracy. Grasslands and wetlands were included, as well as villages and towns that resided within. His heirs continued to enforce the laws. King Richard I and King John extended the forests, taking larger and larger areas, eventually covering one third of southern England.
This charter re-established free men rights of access, alleviating the hardship on the common people to farm, hunt, forage and generally use, and tend to, the land they lived on. It was reissued in 1225 with wording changes and then joined with the Magna Carta in the Confirmation of Charters (Confirmatio Cartarum) in 1297 by King Edward I.
Storytelling for Kids (cute)
A suicide bomber drives a truck packed with explosives into the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 U.S. military personnel. That same morning, 58 French soldiers were killed in their barracks two miles away in a separate suicide terrorist attack. The U.S. Marines were part of a multinational force sent to Lebanon in August 1982 to oversee the Palestinian withdrawal from Lebanon.
In 1975, a bloody civil war erupted in Lebanon, with Palestinian and leftist Muslim guerrillas battling militias of the Christian Phalange Party, the Maronite Christian community and other groups. During the next few years, Syrian, Israeli and United Nations interventions failed to resolve the factional fighting and, on August 20, 1982, a multinational force including 800 U.S. Marines was ordered to Beirut to help coordinate the Palestinian withdrawal.
[Following] the massacre of Palestinian refugees by a Christian militia, [the] next day, the first U.S. Marine to die during the mission was killed while defusing a bomb. Other Marines fell prey to snipers. On April 18, 1983, a suicide bomber driving a van devastated the U.S. embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people, including 17 Americans. Then, on October 23, a Lebanese terrorist plowed his bomb-laden truck through three guard posts, a barbed-wire fence and into the lobby of the Marines Corps headquarters in Beirut. [He] detonated a massive bomb killing 241 Marine, Navy and Army personnel. The bomb, which was made of a sophisticated explosive enhanced by gas, had an explosive power equivalent to 18,000 pounds of dynamite. The identities of the embassy and barracks bombers were not determined but, they were suspected to be Shiite terrorists associated with Iran.
Serious questions also arose over the quality of security in the American sector of war-torn Beirut. The U.S. peacekeeping force occupied an exposed area near the airport but, for political reasons, the Marine Commander had not been allowed to maintain a completely secure perimeter before the attack.
On February 26, 1984, the main force of Marines left Lebanon, leaving just a small contingent to guard the U.S. embassy in Beirut.
This one hits home. One of the Marines killed in that bombing graduated from my high school. He graduated in 1982 (two years ahead of me) and I never got to meet him but, I knew his younger brother whom was a year behind me. Many years later, I wound up married to the Corps for 12 years. My ex and I visited the Beirut Bombing Memorial in Jacksonville when he returned from Iraq War duty. I took pictures but, I don’t remember what happened to them. ~Vic
Burlington Times-News Article (Johnny’s name on the wall…)
Sixty-nine years ago, today, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, written by C. S. Lewis and illustrated by Pauline Baynes, was published by Geoffrey Bles. This is the first and best known of the books from The Chronicles of Narnia (1950-1956). Though this was the first book, the entire story’s chronology makes it second in reading order.
Most of the novel is set in Narnia, a land of talking animals and mythical creatures that is ruled by the evil White Witch. In the frame story, four English children are relocated to a large, old country house following a wartime evacuation. The youngest, Lucy, visits Narnia three times via the magic of a wardrobe in a spare room. Lucy’s three siblings are with her on her third visit to Narnia. In Narnia, the siblings seem fit to fulfill an old prophecy and find themselves adventuring to save Narnia and their own lives. The lion Aslan gives his life to save one of the children. He, later, rises from the dead, vanquishes the White Witch and crowns the children Kings and Queens of Narnia.
One-hundred, ninety-nine years ago, today, the real Daniel Boone passed away. Two days prior, I posted about the television show Daniel Boone that was hardly accurate in its portrayal or his frame of life despite being a popular show.
From The History Channel:
On September 26, 1820 the great pioneering frontiersman Daniel Boone dies quietly in his sleep at his son’s home near present-day Defiance, Missouri.
The indefatigable voyager was 86. Boone was born in 1734 (he has two different dates of birth due to the 1752 Gregorian calendar switch) to Quaker parents living in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Following a squabble with the Pennsylvania Quakers, Boone’s family decided to head south and west for less crowded regions and they eventually settled in the Yadkin Valley of North Carolina. There the young Daniel Boone began his life-long love for wilderness, spending long days exploring the still relatively unspoiled forests and mountains of the region. An indifferent student who never learned to write more than a crude sentence or two, Boone’s passion was for the outdoors, and he quickly became a superb marksman, hunter and woodsman. (It should be noted here that historian John Mack Faragher stated that Boone “acquired a level of literacy that was the equal of most men of his times. He was often the only literate person in groups of frontiersmen.”)
In May of 1769, Boone and five companions crossed over the Cumberland Gap and explored along the south fork of the Kentucky River. Boone returned in 1773 with his family, hoping to establish a permanent settlement. An Indian attack prevented that first attempt from succeeding (Boone’s eldest son James and, William Russell‘s son Henry were captured and tortured to death, a prelude to Dunmore’s War.) but, Boone returned two years later to open the route that became known as Boone’s Trace (or the Wilderness Road) between the Cumberland Gap and a new settlement along the Kentucky River called Fortress Boonesboro. Boonesboro eventually became one of the most important gateways for the early American settlement of the Trans-Appalachian West.
After the French and Indian War (1754–1763) broke out between the French and British, and their respective Indian allies, North Carolina Governor Matthew Rowan called up a militia, for which Boone volunteered. He served under Captain Hugh Waddell on the North Carolina frontier. Waddell’s unit was assigned to serve in the command of General Edward Braddock […].
Boone served in the North Carolina militia during [the] “Cherokee Uprising“. His militia expeditions went deep into Cherokee territory beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains and he was separated from his wife for about two years.
On December 22, 1769, Boone and a fellow hunter, Benjamin Cutbirth, were captured by a party of Shawnees, who confiscated all of their skins and told them to leave and never return.
[During the Revolutionary War], Boone’s daughter Jemima and two other teenaged girls were captured outside Boonesborough by an Indian war party on July 5, 1776. The incident became the most celebrated event of Boone’s life. James Fenimore Cooper created a fictionalized version of the episode in his classic novel The Last of the Mohicans (1826).
He lived quite an eventful life.
♦ In February 1778, Boone was adopted into the Shawnee tribe as a prisoner to replace a fallen warrior (a Shawnee custom) and was named Sheltowee (Big Turtle), eventually escaping.
♦ In September 1778, he was court-martialed due to misunderstandings during the Siege of Boonesborough.
♦ There is some indication that Boone crossed paths with Abraham Lincoln’s grandfather.
♦ In 1780, Boone was [a] Lieutenant Colonel in the Fayette County militia. In October, his brother Ned was killed by Shawnees and beheaded for a trophy, as the they thought they had killed Boone.
♦ In 1781, he was elected as a representative to the Virginia General Assembly.
♦ [Traveling] to Richmond to take his seat in the legislature, […] British dragoons under Banastre Tarleton captured Boone and several other legislators near Charlottesville. The British released Boone on parole several days later.
♦ In 1782, he was elected sheriff of Fayette County.
♦ By 1787, he owned seven slaves.
♦ In 1798, a warrant was issued for Boone’s arrest after he ignored a summons to testify in a court case, although the sheriff never found him.
♦ Also in 1798, the Kentucky assembly named Boone County in his honor.
♦ From 1799 to 1804, he served as syndic and commandant, appointed by the Spanish governor of Spanish Louisiana (now St. Charles County, Missouri).
♦ American painter John James Audubon claimed to have gone hunting with Boone in the woods of Kentucky around 1810 (some historians believe Boone visited his brother Squire near Kentucky in 1810).
♦ Boone died of natural causes at his son Nathan’s home. He was 85.
Three hundred, twenty-nine years ago, today, the multi-page newspaper Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick was published in the Americas. Edited by Benjamin Harris and printed by Richard Pierce, it was the first of its kind.
Before [the multi-page], single-page newspapers, called broadsides, were published in the English colonies and printed in Cambridge in 1689. The first edition was published September 25, 1690, in Boston, then a city in the Dominion of New England, and was intended to be published monthly, “or, if any Glut of Occurrences happen, oftener.”
No second edition was printed because the paper was shut down by the Colonial government on September 29, 1690, who issued an order as follows:
“Whereas some have lately presumed to Print and Disperse a Pamphlet, Entitled, Publick Occurrences, both Forreign and Domestick: Boston, Thursday, Septemb. 25th, 1690. Without the least Privity and Countenace of Authority. The Governour and Council having had the perusal of said Pamphlet, and finding that therein contained Reflections of a very high nature: As also sundry doubtful and uncertain Reports, do hereby manifest and declare their high Resentment and Disallowance of said Pamphlet, and Order that the same be Suppressed and called in; strickly forbidden any person or persons for the future to Set forth any thing in Print without License first obtained from those that are or shall be appointed by the Government to grant the same.”
Without a license, it was closed down after a single issue, Harris was jailed, and the next newspaper did not appear until 1704, when John Campbell’s Boston News-Letter was the first American newspaper to last beyond the first issue.
From Encyclopaedia Britannica:
Benjamin Harris [was an] English bookseller and writer who was the first journalist in the British-American colonies. An ardent Anabaptist and Whig, Harris published argumentative pamphlets in London, especially ones attacking Roman Catholics and Quakers […]. His newspaper, Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestick (Sept. 25, 1690), the first newspaper printed in the colonies, was suppressed by Boston authorities after one issue. Harris returned to London and journalism in 1695. His London Post appeared regularly from 1699 to 1706.
I was struck by the spelling of the times when I stumbled across this. The fact that he was shut down by the government for daring to speak out (in London & in Boston) also caught my attention. The more things change, the more they stay the same. ~Vic