Monday, July 30, 2007

Update on Gettysburg

I was listening to a documentary on Mothercorp the other day about the assassination of Lincoln and it reminded me of my post about Gettysburg earlier this month.

I learned something I didn't know. Here it is: Washington DC is surrounded on three sides by Maryland, which is south of the Mason-Dixon Line, and on the fourth side by Virginia which joined the Confederacy. If Maryland had joined the Confederacy too, it would have meant that the capital of the United States was entirely surrounded by the enemy. And Maryland was by no means undivided in its support of the Union. So what did Lincoln do? He declared martial law in Maryland. To prevent the possibility of secession. There is still controversy over this, I think.

As a matter of fact, Lincoln carried out several radical actions within months of his inauguration. Indeed, the beginning of his term coincided with the dissolution of the Union and the start of the Civil War.

Here's a partial timeline:
November 6, 1860: · Lincoln elected 16th President of the United States
December 20, 1860: · South Carolina becomes first state to secede from the Union
February 9, 1861: · Confederate States of America formed in Montgomery, Alabama
March 4, 1861: · Lincoln inaugurated in Washington, delivers First Inaugural Address
March 29, 1861: · Orders reinforcements sent to Fort Sumter
April 12, 1861: · Confederate forces open fire on Fort Sumter, beginning Civil War
April 17, 1861: · Virginia secedes from the Union
April 18, 1861: · Lincoln invites Robert E. Lee to head Union armies; Lee declines and resigns post (Now here's an indication of how volatile things were. Lincoln asks Lee to head the Union forces...Lee who is about to become the most famous Confederate General!)
April 27, 1861: · Suspends writ of habeas corpus (!!! Oh, those Republicans, eh?)
May 10, 1861: · Declares martial law in Maryland

There was a great deal of outrage in Maryland over this action which many considered unconstitutional. Don't forget that a primary cause of the Civil War was the dispute over states' rights. And John Wilkes Booth came from a well-established (although not solidly pro-Confederate) Maryland family.

Suspending habeas corpus? Declaring martial law? Suddenly it's less of a mystery why Booth shouted the motto of the state of Virginia after he shot Lincoln: Sic semper tyrannis. Thus always to tyrants!

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New Heart Device Installed in Cheney

The New York Times is reporting on Dick Cheney's new device. Here are my quick thoughts on this development:

Cheney's heart is not that smart,
They've had to install another part.
For him, compash is out of fash.
God forbid he could be so rash.
We have a notion the part the president's kissing
is not the part that Cheney's missing.

(With apologies to the Cowardly Lion...)

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

2 Cents Left: The Altitude Song

Here's another preview of the soon-to-be-released 2 Cents Left. I think maybe the beginning's been cut off of this, but you'll get the idea.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

8 Wonders of the World by Internet

The LA Times is reporting that voters on the Internet have chosen the modern version of the Eight Wonders of the World. How come I didn't know about this? I always find out stuff like this after it's over.

Here's a little of what the Times says about the process:
The popularity contest was the creation six years ago of Bernard Weber, a Swiss filmmaker and self-styled adventurer. Nearly 200 early candidate sites chosen by Internet balloting were scaled down by a panel of experts to 21 finalists, each from a different country, from Greece's Acropolis to the Statue of Liberty.

Online and telephone call-in voting on the finalists began a little over a year ago. Nothing prevented repeat voting by fans, citizens, governments, tourism agencies, you name it.

Weber promoted the project with flashy appearances in hot-air balloons, on camelback and inside a blue blimp, traveling to each of 21 final candidates.
I believe they only chose seven winners and included the pyramids at Giza automatically because the Egyptians were insulted by the mere suggestion that they should be subjected to a vote.
So here's the list. I don't know if they're in order. Or if there is any order. Some of them might be out of order. (I think there's been an Out of Order sign on Chichen Itza for some time. Most of them were undoubtedly made to order, however. Also note that nearly all of them are not what you might consider "modern".
  1. Great Wall of China (China)
  2. Colosseum (Italy)
  3. Taj Mahal (India)
  4. Petra (Jordan)
  5. Christ the Redeemer statue (Brazil)
  6. Machu Picchu (Peru)
  7. Pyramid at Chichen Itza (Mexico)
  8. Pyramids at Giza (Egypt)
And here are the photos:

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Born on the Fourth of July

From a New York Times editorial published today:
Ideas have a way of recommending themselves by the behavior of the men and women who hold them, and this is no less true of nations. The question isn’t simply whether we can project our ideal of freedom around the world. The question is whether, by who we are and how we behave, we can make the freedom that animates us compelling to others.
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Preview: 2 Cents Left

OK, OK, I know I've mentioned this several times over quite a long period, but now, thanks to some shameless grovelling to Voin & Co. I've managed to obtain a couple of tracks from the soon-to-be-released (really) recording by 2 Cents Left, This One's For Kenny. And thanks to DivShare I can give you a sample.

This first tune is called Winnipeg Wind and was written by Voin on his first trip out there with BFB. I'm fairly certain that it will also be the first song on the CD.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007


On July 3, 1863, the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania ended after three days in a major victory for the North as Confederate troops retreated.

Believe it or not, I've always been fascinated by the US Civil War. As a kid I always cheered for the underdog in that war, ie. the Confederate Army. Even tho, up here in Canada, we were given to understand that it was the North that was on the side of the angels, being against slavery and all. Not quite sure why I was enamoured of the Rebs. Except that I liked their uniforms better (when they
had uniforms...) And I liked their flag better, and even bought a big one on my first trip to Tennessee. Also, perhaps, because they were rebels...given my personal history of resistance to authority...always the one who wants to know why.

It took many years to realize that the Civil War was more th
an just about slavery. It was about a rural South and an industrial North. It was about land versus capital. It was about States' rights. In a way it was a war about people's right to self-determination. The South wanted to go its own way. The North didn't want to let that happen. There is a certain irony in holding a war over self-determination on behalf of a territory that condones slavery, but be that as it may.

In spite of my fascination with the Civil War, I'm certainly no expert on it. All I know is, it resolved the issue of secession, and slavery...sort of...

To this point, this post has been rather frivolous, so in remembrance of Gettysburg, I must redeem it somehow. So, first of all, I include this actual photo of the day of the Gettysburg Address, the only known photo of Lincoln on that day, which you can find here:

And here is the text of what he said. I'm sure our Murrican friends have heard this hundreds of times, but it certainly bears repeating, especially since tomorrow is Independence Day:


Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.


Not too shabby. You can find audio versions of the speech at American Rhetoric.

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See You On the Flip Side

:1ɹn ǝɥʇ s,ǝɹǝɥ .punoɹɐ ʇxǝʇ ɹnoʎ sdı1ɟ ʇɐɥʇ ǝʇısqǝʍ ʎ11ıs sıɥʇ punoɟ ı

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Monday, July 02, 2007


NY Times: July 2, 1937
Miss Earhart Forced Down at Sea, Howland Isle Fears; Coast Guard Begins Search

Fuel Had Run Low
Fliers Were Near Goal When Last Reported but Saw No Land
Plane Equipped to Float
Has Sealed Gasoline Tanks and a Rubber Lifeboat for Emergency at Sea
Radio Believed Heard
Los Angeles Amateurs Pick Up Weak Signals on Frequency Assigned to the Plane

WASHINGTON, July 2: -- Coast Guard headquarters was advised tonight that Amelia Earhart was believed to have alighted on the Pacific Ocean near Howland Island shortly after 5 P.M. Eastern daylight time today.

A message from the cutter Itasca, stationed in the vicinity of the island in the mid-Pacific, said:

"Earhart unreported at Howland at 7 P.M. [E.D.T.]. Believe down shortly after 5 P.M. Am searching probable area and will continue."

Admiral William D. Leahy, chief of naval operations, instructed the commandant of the naval station at Honolulu tonight to render whatever aid he may deem practicable in the search for Miss Earhart.

Plane Joins in Search

[A navy flying boat hopped off from Honolulu late last night for Howland Island, 1,900 miles distant, to join the cutter Itasca in hunting for Miss Earhart, The Associated Press reported. Two Los Angeles radio amateurs were said to have picked up weak signals on the frequency assigned to the Earhart radio.]

Coast Guard headquarters here received information that Miss Earhart probably overshot tiny Howland Island because she was blinded by the glare of an ascending sun. The message from the Coast Guard cutter Itasca said it it was believed Miss Earhart passed northwest of Howland Island about 3:20 P.M. [E.D.T.], or about 8 A.M., Howland Island time. The Itasca reported that heavy smoke was bellowing from its funnels at the time, to serve as a signal for the flyer. The cutter's skipper expressed belief the Earhart plane had descended into the sea within 100 miles of Howland.

Husband Asks Assistance

In a message to Washington, the flier's husband, George Palmer Putnam, who is awaiting her return to this country at the Oakland, Calif., airport said:

"Technicians familiar with Miss Earhart's plane believe, with its large tanks, it can float almost indefinitely. With retractable landing gear and smooth seas, safe landing (on the sea) should have been practicable.

"Request such assistance as is practicable from naval aircraft and surface craft stationed at Honolulu. Apparently plane's position not far from Howland.

"The plane's large wing and empty gasoline tanks should provide sufficient buoyancy if it came to rest on the sea without being damaged.

"There was a two-man rubber lifeboat aboard the plane, together with lifebelts, flares, a Very pistol and a large yellow signal kite which could be flown above the plane or the lifecraft."

Mr. Putnam said his wife had planned to take emergency food rations and plenty of water on the hazardous flight, the most dangerous on her trip around the world.

Earlier the Coast Guard had ordered the cutter Roger B. Taney to proceed from Honolulu to Howland Island to aid the cutter Itasca in the search for Miss Earhart. A message from Honolulu, however, said the Taney was undergoing repairs and could not participate.

Amateurs Pick Up Signals

Los Angeles, July 2 (AP) -- Two amateur radio operators claimed to have picked up signals tonight on frequencies officially assigned to the plane of Amelia Earhart.

Walter McMenamy said he picked up weak signals on 6210 kilocycles at 6 P.M. [10 P.M. Eastern daylight time] and heard the letters "L-a-t" which he took to mean latitude. The letters were followed by undecipherable figures.

The signals continued for some time. Mr. McMenamy expressed belief they came from a portable transmitter. he received other signals from a Coast Guard boat, presumably the cutter Itasca, requesting listeners to "stand by and listen on all frequencies."

At 8 P.M. [midnight Eastern daylight time], Carl Pierson, chief engineer of the Patterson Radio Corporation, picked up similarly weak signals on 3,105 kilocycles, Miss Earhart's daytime frequency. He said they were erratic and undecipherable.

Both Mr. McMenamy and Mr. Pierson said the signals came from a hand-cranked generator. Miss Earhart carried one in her plane.

Within 100 Miles of Goals
Honolulu July 2 (AP) -- Amelia Earhart, the world's best known aviatrix, and her navigator, Fred Noonan, were believed forced down at sea today in their $80,000 "flying laboratory" somewhere near tiny Howland Island on a daring attempt to span the South Pacific.

Apparently headwinds had exhausted their gasoline within 100 miles of the end of a projected 2,556-mile flight from Lae, New Guinea.

The alarming silence of the plane's radio spurred into search the Coast Guard cutter Itasca from Howland Island when Miss Earhart's estimated gasoline deadline of 8 P.M. [E.D.T.] passed without word.

A message from the globe-girdling plane, the time of which was translated at Washington by Coast Guard headquarters as 3:20 P.M. [E.D.T.] said she had only a half hour's gasoline and had not sighted land. A later incomplete message was reported at 4:43 P.M. [E.D.T.] Earlier at 2:46 P.M. [E.D.T.] the plane was approximately 100 miles from the island.

The cutter Itasca set out at 8:30 P.M. [E.D.T.] to hunt the missing plane. Coast guardsmen here expressed the belief that aviation's "first lady" and her companion had overshot the minute island and come down somewhere in the vast mid-Pacific region far removed from regular shipping lanes. The cutter prepared to search the little known area northwest of Howland Island.

Bound around the world on an equatorial trail of more than 27,000 miles, Miss Earhart had flown since May 21 from Oakland, Calif., in relatively leisurely stages.

Arriving at Lae, New Guinea, June 28 she awaited favorable weather for the attempt to negotiate the unflown miles to Howland Island, the dot of land that represents the United States' frontier in the South Pacific and is regarded as a potential stepping stone on an air line between the Pacific Coast and the Antipodes.

She left Lae at 10 A.M. local time July 2, which was 8 P.M. yesterday, Eastern daylight time, expecting to complete the flight in eighteen or twenty hours.

The navy tug Ontario stood by half-way between New Guinea and Howland Island, but was not heard from. The Itasca, waiting to receive Miss Earhart at the island received only the barest reports of her progress until the message came that her fuel was about gone.

The next nearest land to Howland is Jarvis Island, a similar mid-Pacific dot forty miles north. Aside form these virtual sandbars there is nothing but water for hundreds of miles.

Howland Island is many hours behind Eastern time, and daylight still existed there with a smooth sea and good visibility prevailing.

The Coast Guard reported receipt of the following message from the Itasca:

"Earhart contact at 3:30 P.M. [E.D.T.]; reported half hour fuel and no landfall. Position doubtful.

"Contact 2:46 P.M. [E.D.T.]; reported approximately 100 miles from Itasca, but no relative bearing. Sea is smooth, visibility perfect, ceiling unlimited. Understand she will float for limited time."

Coast Guard officers consulted the army commanders in Honolulu concerning the possibility of sending land or sea planes from Honolulu, but officials said this was unlikely.

Officers aboard the cutter reported they estimated 8 P.M. [E.D.T.] was the latest the plane could stay aloft an that if it had not arrived by then search would be started in the northwest quadrant from Howland Island "as the most probable area."

Headquarters officials said they could not understand the discrepancy between Miss Earhart's report that she had only a half hour's fuel and the Itasca estimate that she could remain in the air until 7 P.M. They added, however, that the Itasca officers might have taken into account a reserve fuel supply aboard the plane.

Information was sought concerning the sea, whether it was smooth enough to aid the fliers in keeping afloat until the Itasca could locate and rescue them or whether it was rough enough to endanger them immediately.

The Itasca radioed Washington the sea was smooth with visibility perfect.

Music & Lyrics by Joni Mitchell

I was driving across the burning desert
When I spotted six jet planes
Leaving six white vapor trails across the bleak terrain
It was the hexagram of the heavens
It was the strings of my guitar
Amelia, it was just a false alarm

The drone of flying engines
Is a song so wild and blue
It scrambles time and seasons if it gets thru to you
Then your life becomes a travelogue
Of picture-post-card-charms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm

People will tell you where theyve gone
Theyll tell you where to go
But till you get there yourself you never really know
Where some have found their paradise
Others just come to harm
Oh amelia, it was just a false alarm

I wish that he was here tonight
Its so hard to obey
His sad request of me to kindly stay away
So this is how I hide the hurt
As the road leads cursed and charmed
I tell amelia, it was just a false alarm

A ghost of aviation
She was swallowed by the sky
Or by the sea, like me she had a dream to fly
Like icarus ascending
On beautiful foolish arms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm

Maybe Ive never really loved
I guess that is the truth
Ive spent my whole life in clouds at icy altitude
And looking down on everything
I crashed into his arms
Amelia, it was just a false alarm

I pulled into the cactus tree motel
To shower off the dust
And I slept on the strange pillows of my wanderlust
I dreamed of 747s
Over geometric farms
Dreams, amelia, dreams and false alarms

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Breaking News Headlines From Mental Blog











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Help! I've written and I can't get up!