A water tower named Dwight

January 31, 2012

In all the sturm, drang und angst of the past 10 days, I failed to commemorate the natal day of my brother Dwight.

Water tower in Dwight, Illinois -- fuzzy photo by Ed Darrell at 70 mph

Dwight has always been outstanding in his field. Or, was it, "Out standing in his field?" Water tower in Dwight, Illinois -- fuzzy photo by Ed Darrell at 70 mph

It was a big one for Dwight, too.  Let’s just say he has abandoned that old line about “never trust anyone over 30.”

Actually, the Village of Dwight has an artist’s rendering of the tower, too:

Water Tower village piece, Dwight, Illinois

Water Tower village piece, Dwight, Illinois. It's back ordered at the moment, if you wanted to buy one.

Nice image, don’t you think?

Unlike the water tower in Burley, Idaho, where Dwight misspent his youth, this one is tougher to climb, to spray paint grafitti on it.

Water tower in Burley, Idaho - photo by wogger

Water tower in Burley, Idaho - photo by wogger

I don’t suppose Dwight still does that stuff, though.

Happy birthday, to my brother, a bit late.

Birthers: Lacking the sense God gave chickens

January 30, 2012

Birthers are still claiming the Earth is flat, still looking for a missing link, still claiming Judge Crater didn’t go missing, and still embarrassing America?


Barack Obama's Long Form Birth Certificate

Barack Obama’s Long Form Birth Certificate – image from Snopes.com (available many places)

Orly Taitz was in court in Georgia, losing another case because she lacks even a whiff of a scintilla of an iota of evidence to back any of her claims that President Barack Obama was not born in Honolulu, Hawaii, as his now-released long-form birth certificate, short-form birth certificate, contemporary newspapers, eyewitnesses and all other evidence indicate.  They have no evidence, and they have clowns for lawyers:

In court filings, Obama’s legal team has called the “birther” allegations baseless and the criticisms of his birth records “patently unfounded.” The filings also noted 68 similar challenges filed have been dismissed and, during a 2009 challenge, a federal judge in Columbus fined Taitz $20,000 for “frivolous” litigation.

But I stumbled onto a wildly misnamed blog, The Constitution Club*, where the issue is given credence and way too many electrons.

(Are lobotomies legal, again?  Can people perform self-lobotomies?  Just wondering.)

I added some references to sites in the real world, so that anyone not totally insane might find an anchor in reality and follow the threads back to the light.

The post’s author, Daniella Nicole, tried to make a defense of the birthers insane, destructive antics.

I responded, but you never can tell when the birthers will plug their ears, cover their eyes and start singing “Born in the U.S.A.” at the top of their lungs to avoid information that would require them to appear sober.  My comment went straight to “moderation.”  Probably too many links, or too many high-quality links (thank you, Cornell University Law Library’s Legal Information Institute).   For the record, here’s my last reply to Daniella Nicole:

[Daniella Nicole wrote:]

I daresay any of the GOP contenders, or to use your reference, SNL’s the Church Lady, Frankie and Willie or one of the Coneheads, would all be better than the clown (or Homey D. Clown from In Living Color, if you will) currently in office.

Excuse me. I had mistaken you for an American, a patriot, and someone who bears no ill will to the American people.

Unless Obama has lied about who his father is and the birth certificate is a fraud (which would raise other legal issues), Obama is NOT a natural born citizen. Period.

“Born on American soil” means “natural born American citizen.” Obama was born on American soil. End of your argument.

BUT, had he been born on foreign soil, with one American citizen parent, he would still be a natural born citizens — as is John McCain, born in Panama (and not on a military base, but in the local Panama hospital).

Remind me never to refer any of my clients or friends to you for immigration advice.

The Supreme Court actually set the precedent of defining natural born as born of two American citizen parents in the 1875 case Minor v. Happersett. Note it was not a dicta, which is an authoritative statement by a court that is not legally binding, but an actual precedent, which is a rule of law established for the first time by a court and is referred to by other courts afterwards.

The holding in Minor was that women are not voting citizens. The case dealt with Mrs. Minor’s attempt to register to vote. Obama is not a woman, and the issue you’re talking about has nothing to do with registering to vote. So, if the case says what you claim, it MUST be in obiter dicta. [Obiter dicta means those parts of the decision in which the court explains how and why it ruled as it did, but NOT the key ruling itself.]  No offense, but you really could use some legal training. At least get a Black’s Law dictionary, will you?

Here, read excerpts from the opinion:

The question is presented in this case, whether, since the adoption of the fourteenth amendment, a woman, who is a citizen of the United States and of the State of Missouri, is a voter in that State, notwithstanding the provision of the constitution and laws of the State, which confine the right of suffrage to men alone. We might, perhaps, decide the case upon other grounds, but this question is fairly made. From the opinion we find that it was the only one decided in the court below, and it is the only one which has been argued here. The case was undoubtedly brought to this court for the sole purpose of having that question decided by us, and in view of the evident propriety there is of having it settled, so far as it can be by such a decision, we have concluded to waive all other considerations and proceed at once to its determination.

So it would be error to claim the case got to the issue of who is a “natural born citizen” at all. It did not.

And, had you read the case, you’d know that. In fact, the case says the opposite of what you claim. It says:

Additions might always be made to the citizenship of the United States in two ways: first, by birth, and second, by naturalization. This is apparent from the Constitution itself, for it provides [n6] that “no person except a natural-born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President,” [n7] and that Congress shall have power “to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.” Thus new citizens may be born or they may be created by naturalization.

The Constitution does not, in words, say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common-law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives, or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners. Some authorities go further and include as citizens children born within the jurisdiction without reference to the citizenship of their [p168] parents. As to this class there have been doubts, but never as to the first. For the purposes of this case it is not necessary to solve these doubts. It is sufficient for everything we have now to consider that all children born of citizen parents within the jurisdiction are themselves citizens. The words “all children” are certainly as comprehensive, when used in this connection, as “all persons,” and if females are included in the last they must be in the first. That they are included in the last is not denied. In fact the whole argument of the plaintiffs proceeds upon that idea.

Under the power to adopt a uniform system of naturalization Congress, as early as 1790, provided “that any alien, being a free white person,” might be admitted as a citizen of the United States, and that the children of such persons so naturalized, dwelling within the United States, being under twenty-one years of age at the time of such naturalization, should also be considered citizens of the United States, and that the children of citizens of the United States that might be born beyond the sea, or out of the limits of the United States, should be considered as natural-born citizens. [n8] These provisions thus enacted have, in substance, been retained in all the naturalization laws adopted since. In 1855, however, the last provision was somewhat extended, and all persons theretofore born or thereafter to be born out of the limits of the jurisdiction of the United States, whose fathers were, or should be at the time of their birth, citizens of the United States, were declared to be citizens also. [n9]

If you’re going to opine on citizenship, you would do well to read a summary of actual citizenship law, and don’t take the odd rantings of anti-Obama people on the internet.

Dani said:

Interestingly, many refer to Vattel’s definition of natural born (which is essentially the same thing and may have influenced the founders in their work on the Constitution), but it is not Vattel that sets legal precedent. The Supreme Court can and did set the precedent in the matter in 1875.

Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1875) most assuredly did not rule that a child must have two U.S. citizen parents to be a citizen, nor to be a “natural born” citizen. Read the case’s key sections above.

The precedent that is important here is the presidency of Chester Alan Arthur, a man who, like Obama, had a father born in a foreign country, and who was not a citizen of the U.S. at the time of Arthur’s birth. While opponents tried to make an issue of this in the campaign of 1880, it was a non-starter. You know the rest — Arthur was elected vice president under James Garfield, and ascended to the presidency upon Garfield’s death after being shot (no, Orly Taitz was not the shooter). So, had Hapersett had anything to do with presidential eligibility, it would have applied to Arthur. Since Arthur served out his term as president, it’s pretty clear that the actual precedent supports Obama’s eligibility 100%.

Somebody told you a tall tale about the case — it’s about whether a woman may vote, not about what is a natural born citizen. Seriously, how could anyone confuse those issues?

Congress in 2008 (including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama) also defined natural born as having been born to two American citizen parents when a challenge to John McCain’s eligibility was issued.So, even by the standard and definition of Congress, including Obama himself, he is not legally qualified or eligible.

1. That was a non-binding resolution, stating the opinion of the U.S. Senate.
2. The resolution, S. Res. 511 in the 110th Congress, ( does NOT say “two American citizen parents,” but instead refers to children born to “Americans.” Obama’s mother was an American.
3. Obama was born on American soil, and so the resolution, covering kids born outside the U.S., is inapplicable, and off the mark.

Obama was not born to two American citizen parents, by his own admission and via the birth certificate which he has provided to America. Ergo, he is not a natural born American citizen and does not meet the Constitutional requirement for the office of President of the United States of America. As such, not only is he not legally qualified to be in the office he currently holds, but he is not legally eligible to be on any ballot in the U.S. for the upcoming election. Period.

Except, none of the laws you cite says what you’d need it to say. Obama is natural born because he was born in the U.S. He is also natural born having been a child of a U.S. citizen. He is fully legally qualified — at least, to people who know the law, and who appreciate that it’s necessary to follow the laws.

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Your wishes do not change the law. Your misstatements of the cases and the laws do not change the laws. Your wish to find something bad against Obama, a good man and a good president, does not give you a leg to stand on, nor a horse to ride.

And how, pray tell, is using legal means to resolve serious legal matters “polluting the courts”? That is what they are there for.

Junk lawsuits. Nuisance suits. Orly Taitz has already been fined for making these nuisance claims. The evidence needed to challenge Obama’s eligibility simply does not exist, except in the fevered and overactive imaginations of those crazies. The stuff in Georgia this last week is a supreme embarrassment to America — but thank God, the courts got it right.

But by all means, continue to stamp your foot and blather on about this. Your work on this insane and hopeless issue keeps you off the streets, and out of real politics. You can’t do damage to a school board race while you’re lost in the ozone on citizenship and Obama.


* Maybe by “Constitution Club” they mean “a club with which to beat the Constitution,” and not a group of people joining together in a noble cause, you think?

Earlier at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub

God changed His mind, for the sake of justice. What’s your excuse?

January 28, 2012

Slacktivist tells the story, and the moral of the story, at “Five women who changed God’s rules.”

So, if God can admit He goofed in the case of Zelophehad’s daughters, what’s preventing any of the rest of us from admitting error?

Daughers of Zelophehad, from from The Bible and Its Story Taught by One Thousand Picture Lessons. Edited by Charles F. Horne and Julius A. Bewer. 1908. Via Wikipedia

Daughers of Zelophehad, from from The Bible and Its Story Taught by One Thousand Picture Lessons. Edited by Charles F. Horne and Julius A. Bewer. 1908. (Who did the engraving?)

If you are a cowboy, and this is January, you’re listening to poetry in Elko

January 28, 2012

Cowboy poets, cowboy poetry, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Baxter Black!  Do you need any more reasons to head to Elko, Nevada, next weekend?

English: Panorama showing Elko, Nevada - Jaros...

Panorama of scenic, Great Basin town Elko, Nevada. Photos by Jaroslaw Binczarowski, image via Wikipedia

I get e-mail that makes me wish I were wealthy enough to travel next weekend:

For Immediate Release, January 28, 2012
Contact: Darcy Minter, 775.340.4240, dminter@westernfolklife.org

Southwest Ranch Country Exhibition Opens at the 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Exhibit Features Photography of Kurt Markus and Jay Dusard

Elko, Nevada—Opening in the Western Folklife Center’s Wiegand Gallery during the 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, the exhibition Southwest Ranch Country sheds light on the material and visual landscape of America’s ranching Southwest. The artistry of the region is represented through the vivid photography of Kurt Markus and Jay Dusard, and handcrafted gear of some of the region’s master craftsmen. On display January 24 – September 8, 2012, the exhibition’s opening reception is Friday, February 3, from 3:15 to 5:30 pm. During the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, February 2-4, the gallery will feature slide shows and gallery tours by Jay Dusard and Arizona cowboy poet Ross Knox, and leatherwork demonstrations by master saddlemakers Don Butler, Bob Park and Andy Stevens.

For this exhibition, photographer Kurt Markus, of Kalispell, Montana, has selected some of his favorite images from visits to ranches in the American Southwest. These western photographs capture lives of tedium, isolation and communal living among majestic sweeping landscapes, and demonstrate Markus’ poetic sensibility combined with his realistic approach to image-making. His work cuts across many genres and he has exhibited and published widely, in this country and abroad. His books include After Barbed Wire, Buckaroo, Boxers, and Cowpuncher.This is the first time that Markus’ Southwest Cowpuncher photographs have been printed for exhibition.

Jay Dusard, of Douglas, Arizona, has meticulously photographed the landscape of the American West for 45 years, and has punched cows, off and on, for over 50 years. For this exhibition, the Western Folklife Center features his monumental-size portraits of working cowboys of the American Southwest. Jay still shoots large format film, and the resulting images have resulted in award-winning exhibitions and extensive publication, including his acclaimed first book, The North American Cowboy: A Portrait. During the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Jay will present slide shows and stories from his ongoing and extensive work in the rural West.

The renaissance of ranch-related craftsmanship is alive and well in the American Southwest, with these artists putting their unique stamp on an ever-evolving style. In addition to the photography of Markus and Dusard, this exhibition brings together some of the finest Southwest artists and the work they enjoy doing as either occupation or sideline.

  • Keith Basso, Rawhide Braider, Heber, Arizona
  • Jay Begay, Jr., Navajo Weaver, Tuba City, Arizona
  • Scott Brown, Saddlemaker & Violinmaker, Salt Lake City, Utah via Texas
  • Bobby Burns, Saddlemaker, Clayton, New Mexico
  • Dawson Byrne, Bootmaker & Leatherworker, Wickenburg, Arizona
  • Robert Campbell, Bit & Spurmaker, Amarillo, Texas
  • Wilson W. Capron, Bit and Spurmaker, Midland, Texas
  • Leland Hensley, Rawhide Braider, Meridian, Texas
  • Jay T. Hudson, Leatherworker and Silverworker, Hobbs, New Mexico
  • Gene Klein, Silversmith, Miami, New Mexico
  • Buddy Knight, Blacksmith & Silverworker, Marfa, Texas
  • Jerry Lansing, Navajo Weaver, Shiprock, New Mexico
  • George & Kelly Martin, Leatherworkers & Bootmakers, Animas, New Mexico
  • Sarah Natani, Navajo Artist, Window Rock, Arizona
  • Scott Farrell/O’Farrell Hat Company, Hatmaker, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Bob Park, Leatherworker, Phoenix, Arizona
  • Keith “Pee Wee” Peebles, Silversmith, Marathon, Texas
  • James Redman, Bootmaker, Mertzon, Texas
  • Alfred R. Reynolds, Master Bootmaker, Wickenburg, Arizona
  • Tom Paul Schneider, Silverworker, Pearce, Arizona
  • Bud Shaul, Leatherworker, Yarnell, Arizona
  • Edith Simonsen, Navajo Weaver, Window Rock, Arizona
  • Rachel Simmons, Leatherworker, Chino Valley, Arizona
  • Baru Spiller, Silverworker, Wingate, Texas
  • Dew Westover, Bootmaker, Vernon, Texas
  • Stewart Williamson, Silverworker & Bit & Spurmaker, Portales, New Mexico

Southwest Ranch Country is presented with support from the Nevada Arts Council and Margaret T. Morris Foundation. Photographs available upon request.

The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is the nation’s greatest celebration of the American West, its people, culture and traditions. The 28th Gathering will take place January 30 to February 4, 2012, in Elko, Nevada. Every January for the last 27 years, cowboys, ranchers, rural and urban people have traveled en masse to the small community of Elko, to join with friends, family and all those who share their love of rural life in the West. Together, they listen to poetry and music, learn about cowboy culture in the U.S. and around the world, experience great art, watch western films, learn a craft, and gather together to eat, drink and swap stories. Programs at the 28th Gathering will focus on the southwestern United States, specifically Arizona and New Mexico—which are celebrating their centennials this year. In addition to the Southwest Ranch Country exhibition, the Gathering will present poets and musicians from the region, as well as workshops and panel discussions focused on regional food, culture and agriculture.

The Western Folklife Center, a regional nonprofit organization, produces the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering. Visit the www.westernfolklife.org for more information about the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering and the Southwest Ranch Country exhibition. Tickets to the 28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering can be purchased at http://www.westernfolklife.org, by calling 775-738-7508, toll-free 888-880-5885, or by stopping in to the Western Folklife Center’s ticket office, 501 Railroad Street, Elko.

The mission of the Western Folklife Center is to enhance the vitality of American life through the experience, understanding, and appreciation of the diverse cultural heritage of the American West.


28th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering Performers

Ramblin' Jack Elliott by Charlie Ekburg, Sweetlight Photography, Elko, NV.

Ramblin' Jack Elliott by Charlie Ekburg, Sweetlight Photography, Elko

Mike Beck & the Bohemian Saints, Monterey, California
Baxter Black, Benson, Arizona
Dave Bourne, Agoura Hills, California
Jerry Brooks, Sevier, Utah
Clarence Carnal, Grand Junction, Colorado
Ken Cook
, Martin, South Dakota
Doris Daley, Turner Valley, Alberta, Canada
Stephanie Davis, Columbus, Montana
John Dofflemyer, Lemon Cove, California
Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Northern California
Rolf Flake, Gilbert, Arizona
Dick Gibford, New Cuyama, California
The Gillette Brothers, Crockett, Texas
Skip Gorman, Connie Dover & the Waddie Pals, Wyoming
DW Groethe, Bainville, Montana
Amy Hale Auker, Prescott, Arizona
R.W. Hampton, Cimarron, New Mexico
Carol Heuchan, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia
Yvonne Hollenbeck, Clearfield, South Dakota
Hot Club of Cowtown, Austin, Texas
Jess Howard, Wibaux, Montana
Tim Hus & The Rocky Mountain Two, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Ross Knox, Benson, Arizona
Marley’s Ghost, Mill Valley, California
Michael Martin Murphey & The Rio Grande Band featuring Pat Flynn, Pueblo, Colorado
Wally McRae, Forsyth, Montana
Waddie Mitchell, Twin Bridges, Nevada
Andy Nelson, Pinedale, Wyoming
Joel Nelson, Alpine, Texas
Rodney Nelson, Almont, North Dakota
Glenn Ohrlin, Mountain View, Arkansas
Vess Quinlan, San Acacio, Colorado
Henry Real Bird, Garryowen, Montana
Pat Richardson, Merced, California
Randy Rieman, Dillon, Montana
Ronstadt Generations, Tucson, Arizona
Martha Scanlan, Birney, Montana
Georgie Sicking, Kaycee, Wyoming
Sourdough Slim, Paradise, California
R.P. Smith, Broken Bow, Nebraska
Jay Snider, Cyril, Oklahoma
Dave Stamey, Orange Grove, California
Gail Steiger, Prescott, Arizona
Rod Taylor, Cimarron, New Mexico
Ian Tyson, Longview, Alberta, Canada
Dick Warwick, Oakesdale, Washington
Andy Wilkinson & Andy Hedges, Lubbock, Texas
Wylie & The Wild West, Conrad, Montana
Paul Zarzyski, Great Falls, Montana

Western Folklife Center • 501 Railroad Street • Elko, Nevada • 89801 • 775.738.7508

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Where are Charlie Kuralt and Stephen Fry when you really need them?

Elko, Nevada. Ruby Mountains in right background.

Elko, Nevada, Ruby Mountains in background to right. Notice the "E" on the mountain. Image via Wikipedia

Mad Housewife Chardonnay

January 28, 2012

Kathryn isn’t exactly a haus frau, not with all the lawyers she must deal with daily.

Probably more of a comment on her husband.  A good friend offered this gift a while back:

Mad Housewife Chardonnay - IMGP2636 Photo by Ed Darrell, Creative Commons license

Mad Housewife Chardonnay - Photo by Ed Darrell, Creative Commons license

We laughed.  Then we found, in the box, an accompanying chardonnay glass:

Change du Life wine glass - IMGP2637 Photo by Ed Darrell, Creative Commons

Change of Life wine glass

“Hot with complex characteristics.”  Still hot after all these years (that many? really?).

Drinking it poses a conundrum:  A Trophy Wife ™ really should be taken out on an occasion to drink a wine with a name like that, right?  But I’m stingy enough not to want to pay the corkage on a bottle brought in.  In no case should this one be drunk with a dinner she’s slaved over for hours.

Maybe it’s time I hit the kitchen.  Old Bay crab cakes, maybe?  It’s a great wine.

American native language, and the Comanche Code Talkers

January 24, 2012

Our friend, the historian and curator of the Jack Harbin Scout Museum in Dallas, Bob Reitz, will present a paper on the Comanche Code Talkers of World War II at the meeting of the West Texas Historical Association meeting March 30-31, at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas.

Which, for some reason, made me think of this classic XKCD:

XKCD cartoon on the national language

XKCD cartoon on the national language

More, resources: 

Comanche code-talkers of the 4th Signal Compan...

Comanche Code Talkers of World War II, 4th Signal Company, U.S. Army – Image via Wikipedia

Charles Chibitty, the last surviving Comanche Code Talker, died in 2005

Charles Chibitty, the last surviving Comanche Code Talker, died in 2005

Time lapse flight, San Francisco to Paris

January 23, 2012

I continue to like time-lapse photo compilations, and I continue to wonder about how to use them to expand geography teaching.  It’s a great circle route, over the Arctic nearing the North Pole.  This movie comes from Nate Bolt, who posts his work at Beepshow.

Obviously I’m not the only one who likes it — between the YouTube and Vimeo sites, the movie has more than 4 million viewers.

Bolt explained at YouTube:

More of these time lapses at http://beepshow.com

I shot a photo roughly every two miles between take-off in San Francisco and landing in Paris CDG to make this airplane time lapse. For some reason the Vimeo version of this is more linked to: http://vimeo.com/21822029

Shot with a 5d2, a time-lapse controller, and a 16mm – 35mm, mixed with some iPhone shots. The flight path from SF to Paris goes well over greenland and the arctic circle, where you can see “northern” lights from all sides of the plane, which explains why I could shoot them facing South.

Big thanks to the folks at http://uxlondon.com for inviting me to europe to speak – if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have made the trip. The music is a modified template of “Gain” used with permission from DETUNE ltd. denkitribe http://soundcloud.com/denkitribe/gain – I created this arrangement on the Korg iMS20 iPad App, and it’s my first custom score. Edits and pans in After Effects CS5 and iMovie.

The photos during take-off and landing are all computer models and totally rendered because I would never use an electronic device during times when the FAA prohibits them. I did get lucky and have a whole row to myself to setup the tripod and gear.

Thanks to my neighbors for not minding an SLR click every 2 to 30 seconds for 11 hours, and thanks to the whole Air France flight crew for being insanely friendly and allowing me to shoot. Thanks to @ztaylor for showing me the Korg iMS20 iPad App. Thanks to @jayzombie and the #nerdbird on the way to SXSW this year for helping me come up with the idea. Thanks to @somnabulent for the idea of live scoring. Thanks to you for actually reading this far. You are a champion.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Boys’ Life Heads Up blog.

U.S. government propaganda circa 1943: “Don’t be a sucker”

January 22, 2012

"Mike is learning his lesson." Still shot from the 1947 U.S. government film, "Don't Be a Sucker," intended to encourage Americans to be inclusive to avoid the divisions and disaster that afflicted Nazi Germany. Vox.com image

“Mike is learning his lesson.” Still shot from the 1947 U.S. government film, “Don’t Be a Sucker,” intended to encourage Americans to be inclusive to avoid the divisions and disaster that afflicted Nazi Germany. Vox.com image

If only the Republican Party still subscribed to these all-American, egalitarian values  . . .  A few sources say the film was intended to be an anti-racism film after the desegregation of the U.S. armed forces by President Harry Truman, and was not intended for general public viewing.  (Is it fair to say this is secret stuff?)  The Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB) said the film was made in 1943, and reissued by the Defense Department later; good movies stay fresh:

Financed and produced by the United States War Department, and shot at the Warners [Bros.] studio, although it was distributed through all of the major studios’ film exchanges and also by National Screen Services free to the theatre exhibitors: A young, healthy American Free Mason is taken in by the message of a soap-box orator who asserts that all good jobs in the United States are being taken by the so-called minorities, domestic and foreign. He falls into a conversation with a refugee professor who tells him of the pattern of events that brought Hitler to power in Germany and how Germany’s anti-democratic groups split the country into helpless minorities, each hating the other. The professor concludes by pointing out that America is composed of many minorities, but all are united as Americans. (Reissued in 1946 following the end of World War II.) (Written by Les Adams)

From the Department of Defense in 1943 and 1946, “Don’t Be a Sucker,” about 18 minutes:

More, resources: 

Odd conjunction of history: January 21, Louis XVI and Vladimir I. Lenin

January 21, 2012

The Dallas Morning News and the Associated Press inform us that France’s King Louis XVI died on January 21, 1793.  In 1924, Russian revolutionary Vladimir I. Lenin died on January 21.

Portrait of Louis XVI

France's King Louis XVI died on January 21, 1793. He is seen here in his most famous portrait, in happier times. Image via Wikipedia

Both died of strokes, but of different kinds of strokes.  Lenin’s was a cerebral stroke; Louis’s was the stroke of the blade of a guillotine.

Painting of Lenin in front of the Smolny Institute, circa 1925,  by Isaak Brodsky - Wikipedia

Lenin died on January 21, 1924. Painting of Lenin in front of the Smolny Institute, circa 1925, by Isaak Brodsky

Ruminations on the date, and the men:  How much of current history can be understood by studying those two events, and those two men?  How much if we add in George Washington, and Napoleon, other men affected by revolution?

A few years ago I had a sophomore student spell out the importance of people in history.  Israel Pena observed that  Americans got rid of their king through revolution, and ended up with George Washington as leader, and then president.  Washington’s modeling of his life after the Roman patriot Cincinattus led Washington to resign as commander of the Continental Army when the warring was done, instead of declaring himself king, and then later to step down from the presidency after two terms, to promote peaceful retirement of presidents.  The French got rid of their king through revolution in 1789, but in the chaos that followed, got Napoleon who took over the government after battlefield victories against France’s enemies.  Then Napoleon declared himself emperor, and took off on a reign of conquest and war across Europe.

Mr. Pena’s commentary compared only those two nations.  What if we add in a third, Russia?  Russia got rid of its king (czar) through revolution in 1917.  In the chaos that followed it got a government led by Lenin, and upon Lenin’s early death, taken over by Joseph Stalin.

George Washington, by Gilbert Stuart - Wikipedia

George Washington, by Gilbert Stuart - Wikipedia

Is the future written by the character of the men who run the government?  One might make a good case of that in the deaths paint most of the picture we really need to have, that of Louis XVI, at the age of 39, on the guillotine; of Vladimir I. Lenin, at the age of 53, of stroke, both still working to cling to the strings of power; and compare the death in 1799 of George Washington, at the age of 67, of complications from a strep throat, in retirement and in his bed at Mount Vernon, Virginia; and of Napoleon Bonaparte, 52, probably from stomach cancer, while he suffered in humiliating exile on the far distant South Atlantic isle of St. Helena, in 1821.

The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries, by Jacques-Louis David, 1812 - Wikipedia

The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries, by Jacques-Louis David, 1812 - Wikipedia

Revolution marked these men, three of whom led them, and the fourth of whom was put out of power by one.  Whose life would you have preferred to follow?  Which of these lives is most meritorious of modeling?

Boys’ Life on YouTube, February issue preview

January 21, 2012

Every time I pick up an issue of Boys’ Life I think how much better students could perform if they just looked that this magazine once a month; you don’t have to be a Scout to subscribe, but why not live the adventures, too?

Will 30-second montages sell more magazines?  What more could/should Boys’ Life do on the web?

Here’s an example of the sorts of skills I wish my students had, again from the Boys’ Life YouTube offerings.  In “Cache Me If You Can,” these are young Scouts, I’m guessing ages 11 to about 13 from a Troop 6 somewhere in Colorado, out navigating a path through the woods using GPS and hand-held ham radios.  I fear most of my 16-18-year-old students would be challenged to do the stuff these younger kids are doing, if they could do it at all.

Of course, while those skills would make them better students more able to understand and use maps and charts, very little of those skills are listed in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.  I’m given neither time nor resources to teach them.

More, resources: 

  • A feature at the Boys’ Life site I really like is the “Wayback Machine,” which allows viewing of many issues of the magazine dating back to 1911 — actualy from March 1911 through December 2009.  Alas, the features uses Google Books, so viewing at the site is about all you can do — no copying of the great covers by Boy Scouts of America art director Norman Rockwell, no copying of articles with teachable skills for use as illustrations in lessons.   This would be a good research site for high school history projects — Scouts in time of war, Scouting and education, map use, youth in exploration, etc.

Stimulus spending: Texans remember how the CCC helped save the nation

January 20, 2012

New video history piece from the Texas Parks & Wildlife people:


Uploaded by on Jan 17, 2012

The Civilian Conservation Corps provided jobs for over 3 million young men during the Great Depression and helped establish the foundation of our nation’s park system. 70 years after the creation of the CCC, Conservation Corps veterans reunite in one of the parks they helped build, sharing stories and rekindling old memories.

A pictorial map showing Texas State Parks with significant work performed by the CCC:

Map of Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy Parks in Texas - TPWD image

Map of Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy Parks in Texas - TPWD image - Click on map for original, larger version

The old waiter and tablecloth trick, with a twist

January 20, 2012

As almost always, spending a few minutes at Richard Wiseman’s blog produces interesting stuff.

Here’s a twist on the old trick performed by “fab juggler Mat Ricardo” (Wiseman’s description).  Ricardo’s trick, to me, makes the commercial message much more palatable — do you agree?

Annals of Global Warming: NOAA calls 2011 “year of climate extremes”

January 19, 2012

2011 saw 14 severe weather events that caused more than $1 billion in damage each.  The pre-Halloween snow disaster may push the total up to 15 such events.  NOAA is calling these billion-dollar-plus events “climate disasters.”

On top of the year 2011’s rating in the top 10 of warmest years on record, the sheer number of expensive weather extremes powerfully suggest that global warming already costs Americans billions of dollars in damage, lost production and disease.

NOAA: 2011 a year of climate extremes in the United States

NOAA announces two additional severe weather events reached $1 billion damage threshold, raising 2011’s billion-dollar disaster count from 12 to 14 events

January 19, 2012

Selected Annual Records

Selected Annual Climate Records for 2011 - Green dots show the wettest, yellow dots the driest, red dots the warmest and blue dots the coolest records. Click image for high resolution version from NOAA (NOAA image)

According to NOAA scientists, 2011 was a record-breaking year for climate extremes, as much of the United States faced historic levels of heat, precipitation, flooding and severe weather, while La Niña events at both ends of the year impacted weather patterns at home and around the world.

NOAA’s annual analysis of U.S. and global conditions, conducted by scientists at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, reports that the average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 53.8 degrees F, 1.0 degree F above the 20th century average, making it the 23rd warmest year on record. Precipitation across the nation averaged near normal, masking record-breaking extremes in both drought and precipitation.

On a global scale, La Niña events helped keep the average global temperature below recent trends. As a result, 2011 tied with 1997 for the 11th warmest year on record. It was the second coolest year of the 21st century to date, and tied with the second warmest year of the 20th century.

Key highlights of the report include:

U.S. weather and climate disasters

Extreme Weather Events in 2011

From extreme drought, heat waves and floods to unprecedented tornado outbreaks, hurricanes, wildfires and winter storms, a record 14 weather and climate disasters in 2011 each caused $1 billion or more in damages — and most regrettably, loss of human lives and property. Click image for high resolution version. (NOAA image)

  • Tropical Storm Lee, which made landfall on the Gulf Coast on September 2, caused wind and flood damage across the Southeast, but considerably more damage to housing, business and infrastructure from record flooding across the Northeast states, especially Pennsylvania and New York. The storm occurred in an area that had experienced high rainfall from Hurricane Irene barely a week earlier.

    English: View of Tropical Storm Lee from the G...

    Tropical Storm Lee, on September 3, 2011 - Image via Wikipedia

  • A Rockies and Midwest severe weather outbreak, which occurred July 10-14, included tornadoes, hail and high winds. Much of the damage was from wind, hail, and flooding impacts to homes, business, and agriculture.
  • Together, these two events resulted in the loss of 23 lives (21 from Tropical Storm Lee, 2 from the Rockies/Midwest outbreak).


  • Warmer-than-normal temperatures were anchored across the South, Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. Delaware had its warmest year on record, while Texas had its second warmest year on record. The U.S. has observed a long-term temperature increase of about 0.12 degrees F per decade since 1895.
  • Summer (June-August) 2011 was the second warmest on record for the Lower 48, with an average temperature of 74.5 degrees F, just 0.1 degree F below the record-warm summer of 1936. The epicenter of the heat was the Southern Plains, where Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas all had their warmest summer on record. The 3-month average temperatures for both Oklahoma (86.9 degrees F) and Texas (86.7 degrees F) surpassed the previous record for warmest summer in any state.
  • With the exception of Vermont, each state in the contiguous U.S. had at least one location that exceeded 100 degrees F. Summertime temperatures have increased across the U.S. at an average rate of 0.11 degrees F per decade. Much of this trend is due to increases in minimum temperatures (“overnight lows”), with minimum temperature extremes becoming increasingly commonplace in recent decades.
  • Despite a “near normal” national precipitation average, regional precipitation outcomes varied wildly. Texas, ravaged by exceptional drought for most of 2011, had its driest year on record. In contrast, seven states in the Ohio Valley and Northeast — Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania — had their wettest year on record.
  • The past nine years have been particularly wet across the Northeast region – since 2003, the annual precipitation for the region is 48.96 inches, 7.88 inches above the 20th century average. Precipitation averaged across the U.S. is increasing at a rate of about 0.18 inches per decade.
  • Precipitation extremes and impacts were most prevalent during spring (March – May) 2011. Across the northern U.S., ten states were record wet, and an additional 11 states had spring precipitation totals ranking among their top ten wettest. These precipitation extremes, combined with meltwater from a near-record snow pack, contributed to historic flooding along several major rivers across the central United States.
  • Meanwhile, drought rapidly intensified in the southern Plains, where Texas had only 2.66 inches of precipitation, its driest spring on record. This led to record breaking drought and wildfires, which devastated the southern Plains. Following 2010, during which drought across the country was nearly erased, the 12 percent of the continental U.S. in the most severe category of drought (D4) during July 2011 was the highest in the U.S. Drought Monitor era (1999-2011).
  • The spring brought a record breaking tornado season to the United States. Over 1,150 tornadoes were confirmed during the March-May period. The 551 tornado-related fatalities during the year were the most in the 62-year period of record. The deadliest tornado outbreak on record (April 25-28th) and the deadliest single tornado (Joplin, Missouri) contributed to the high fatality count.


  • This year tied 1997 as the 11th warmest year since records began in 1880. The annual global combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.92 degrees F above the 20th century average of 57.0 degrees F. This marks the 35th consecutive year, since 1976, that the yearly global temperature was above average. The warmest years on record were 2010 and 2005, which were 1.15 degrees F above average.
  • Separately, the 2011 global average land surface temperature was 1.49 degrees F above the 20th century average of 47.3 degrees F and ranked as the eighth warmest on record. The 2011 global average ocean temperature was 0.72 degrees F above the 20th century average of 60.9 degrees F and ranked as the 11th warmest on record.
  • Including 2011, all eleven years of the 21st century so far (2001-2011) rank among the 13 warmest in the 132-year period of record. Only one year during the 20th century, 1998, was warmer than 2011.
  • La Niña, which is defined by cooler-than-normal waters in the eastern and central equatorial Pacific Ocean that affects weather patterns around the globe, was present during much of 2011. A relatively strong phase of La Niña opened the year, dissipated in the spring before re-emerging in October and lasted through the end of the year. When compared to previous La Niña years, the 2011 global surface temperature was the warmest observed.
  • The 2011 globally-averaged precipitation over land was the second wettest year on record, behind 2010. Precipitation varied greatly across the globe. La Niña contributed to severe drought in the Horn of Africa and to Australia’s third wettest year in its 112-year period of record.
  • Arctic sea ice extent was below average for all of 2011, and has been since June 2000, a span of 127 consecutive months. Both the maximum ice extent (5.65 million square miles on March 7th) and the minimum extent (1.67 million square miles on September 9th) were the second smallest of the satellite era.
  • For the second year running, NCDC asked a panel of climate scientists to determine and rank the year’s ten most significant climate events, for both the United States and for the planet, to include record drought in East Africa and record flooding in Thailand and Australia. The results are at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/climate-monitoring.

Scientists, researchers and leaders in government and industry use NOAA’s monthly and annual reports to help track trends and other changes in the world’s climate. This climate service has a wide range of practical uses, from helping farmers know what and when to plant, to guiding resource managers’ critical decisions about water, energy and other vital assets.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.

Denialist bedbugs complain that there is no definition of “climate disaster” offered from the agency.  (Denialists are dictionary-challenged?)

More, Resources:

Annals of Global Warming: 2011 comes in as 9th warmest year ever recorded

January 19, 2012

If global warming is not reality, if the anti-warmists are to be found correct, we’re going to need some great cooling to start happening, very, very quickly!

From NASA today:

NASA Finds 2011 Ninth Warmest Year on Record

RELEASE : 12-020, January 19, 2012

WASHINGTON — The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880, according to NASA scientists. The finding continues a trend in which nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000.

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which monitors global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis, released an updated analysis that shows temperatures around the globe in 2011 compared to the average global temperature from the mid-20th century. The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience warmer temperatures than several decades ago. The average temperature around the globe in 2011 was 0.92 degrees F (0.51 C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline.

“We know the planet is absorbing more energy than it is emitting,” said GISS director James E. Hansen. “So we are continuing to see a trend toward higher temperatures. Even with the cooling effects of a strong La Nina influence and low solar activity for the past several years, 2011 was one of the 10 warmest years on record.”

The difference between 2011 and the warmest year in the GISS record (2010) is 0.22 degrees F (0.12 C). This underscores the emphasis scientists put on the long-term trend of global temperature rise. Because of the large natural variability of climate, scientists do not expect temperatures to rise consistently year after year. However, they do expect a continuing temperature rise over decades.

The first 11 years of the 21st century experienced notably higher temperatures compared to the middle and late 20th century, Hansen said. The only year from the 20th century in the top 10 warmest years on record is 1998.

Higher temperatures today are largely sustained by increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide. These gases absorb infrared radiation emitted by Earth and release that energy into the atmosphere rather than allowing it to escape to space. As their atmospheric concentration has increased, the amount of energy “trapped” by these gases has led to higher temperatures.

The carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere was about 285 parts per million in 1880, when the GISS global temperature record begins. By 1960, the average concentration had risen to about 315 parts per million. Today it exceeds 390 parts per million and continues to rise at an accelerating pace.

The temperature analysis produced at GISS is compiled from weather data from more than 1,000 meteorological stations around the world, satellite observations of sea surface temperature and Antarctic research station measurements. A publicly available computer program is used to calculate the difference between surface temperature in a given month and the average temperature for the same place during 1951 to 1980. This three-decade period functions as a baseline for the analysis.

The resulting temperature record is very close to analyses by the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C.

Hansen said he expects record-breaking global average temperature in the next two to three years because solar activity is on the upswing and the next El Nino will increase tropical Pacific temperatures. The warmest years on record were 2005 and 2010, in a virtual tie.

“It’s always dangerous to make predictions about El Nino, but it’s safe to say we’ll see one in the next three years,” Hansen said. “It won’t take a very strong El Nino to push temperatures above 2010.”

For more information on the GISS temperature analysis, visit:


– end –

text-only version of this release

Tip of the old scrub brush to Rashid’s Blog.

January 19 birthday olla podrida

January 19, 2012

Pick your cause for celebration — interesting list of birthday people for January 19:

  • James Watt, improver or inventor of the steam engine, depending on your text, 1736

    Watt's steam engine patent renewed.

    James Watt, back then – Image via Wikipedia

  • Robert E. Lee, in 1807
  • Edgar Allan Poe, born 1809 (just a few days before Lincoln and Darwin, both born that year on February 12)
  • Robert McNeil, the journalist, 1931
  • Janis Joplin, 1943

    In Concert (Janis Joplin album)

    Janis Joplin, member of the “Dead at 27 Club” – Image via Wikipedia

  • Dolly Parton, 1946 (same year as Linda Rondstadt, if I recall correctly)

    The Best of Dolly Parton

    Dolly Parton, a while ago – Image via Wikipedia

Seems odd to me to think of Dolly Parton younger than Janis Joplin, or the same age as Linda Ronstadt.  But Parton was a star by the age of 14.

Irritates me still that Baltimore hasn’t figured out a good way to fund the Edgar Allan Poe House, which needs about $80,000 to avoid bankruptcy (again, if I recall correctly), in a city with an NFL team named after his most famous poem.  Could they just pass a hat at a couple of games, asking each fan to throw in $1.00?  Or pass the hat in the Ravens locker room?

Linda Ronstadt & Emmylou Harris

Dolly Parton’s friends, Linda Rondstadt and Emmy Lou Harris, in a celebratory mood – Image by armadilo60 via Flickr


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