How about a Mark Twain Cigar for Twain’s birthday?

November 30, 2013

Decades ago I caught Hal Holbrook‘s one-man play, “Mark Twain Tonight!” in a theatre in Washington, D.C. (possibly Ford’s Theatre, but I think not).  It was heaven.  I knew what to expect, but it still caught me by surprise: There is no curtain.  The opening of the second act is the lights slowly fading up.  The audience keeps talking until, suddenly, there is an enormous puff of cigar smoke from offstage.  The stunned audience gasps, then laughs, and at the peak of the laughter, Mark Twain treks on stage.

As a man’s reputation precedes him, so Mark Twain’s use of a cigar could  precede him onto a stage, or into a room.

Once upon a time, Mark Twain was THE symbol of a good cigar in America — he always had one, after all.

And so, some enterprising cigar company created Mark Twains.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a Mark Twain cigar to smoke, in his honor, on his birthday?  And remember, he shares a birthday with that other cigar conoisseur, Winston Churchill.

Advertisement taken from a caricature by Frederick Waddy first published in 1872. Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley."

Advertisement taken from a caricature by Frederick Waddy first published in 1872. Mark Twain Papers, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

“DON’T FAIL TO SMOKE MARK TWAIN CIGARS.”  Heckuva slogan.  But not the only one.

Various cigar makers sold “Mark Twain” cigars from as early as 1870; probably the most famous, from the Wolf Brothers, were marketed from 1913, into the 1930s.  Twain died in 1910, so it is almost certain that none of the proceeds from the sale of these cigars went to his estate (I’d be happy to report otherwise, should anyone stumble upon such information).  Wolf Brothers Mark Twain Cigars were marketed under the slogan, “Known to Everyone — Liked By All.”  It was a slogan Twain devised himself, to use on handbills and signs advertising his lectures.

From a Cornell University Library exhibit on Mark Twain:

Since it uses the same image, we might assume this sign comes from the same company that produced the advertisement just above. From a Cornell University Library exhibit on Mark Twain: “Compton Label Works. Smoke the Popular Mark Twain Cigars Sold Everywhere. St. Louis, [ca. 1877-85]. It is not known when this cigar sign was first issued. The portrait is engraved after an 1874 profile photograph that was used on Mark Twain Cigars advertising as early as 1877. From the collection of Susan Jaffe Tane”

Twain built at least three different fortunes.  Had to, after he’d lost the first one, and then the second.  It’s difficult to imagine Twain failing to seize on the marketing value of his own image.  But those were different times.

From the Cornell Library exhibit:  Mark Twain Cigar box. Pennsylvania: Wolf Bros., ca. 1913-1930.  Cigar manufacturers have long capitalized on the public association of Mark Twain with cigars. While various brands of “Mark Twain Cigars” had been marketed since the 1870s, the Wolf Brothers did not register their trademark until 1931. The box is emblazoned with a phrase—“Known to Everyone - Liked by All”—which was written by Mark Twain. Curiously, the word “cigars” is absent from the box, emphasizing that it was Mark Twain, and not necessarily a tobacco product, that was “Liked by All.”  From the collection of Susan Jaffe Tane

From the Cornell Library exhibit: Mark Twain Cigar box. Pennsylvania: Wolf Bros., ca. 1913-1930. Cigar manufacturers have long capitalized on the public association of Mark Twain with cigars. While various brands of “Mark Twain Cigars” had been marketed since the 1870s, the Wolf Brothers did not register their trademark until 1931. The box is emblazoned with a phrase—“Known to Everyone – Liked by All”—which was written by Mark Twain. Curiously, the word “cigars” is absent from the box, emphasizing that it was Mark Twain, and not necessarily a tobacco product, that was “Liked by All.” From the collection of Susan Jaffe Tane

Were the cigars good? It’s unlikely a cigar could have stayed on the market for more than a decade without being of good enough quality to keep some customers coming back and asking for them specifically.  I have not found any descriptions of these older, 19th century and early-20th century Mark Twains, however.  (If you see one, will you call our attention to it?)

More from the Cornell University Library exhibit:  Mark Twain cigar sign. “Liked by All.” Baltimore: Parker Metal Dec. Company, ca. 1913-1931.  This is the sign used to advertise the five-cent Wolf cigars that bore Twain's name from 1913 into the late 1930s. “Mark Twain” appears in prominent red letters, flanked by “Liked by All” and “5¢ Cigars 5¢,” a motto that echos the words emblazoned on the cigar boxes themselves: “Mark Twain: Known to Everyone-Liked by All.”  From the collection of Susan Jaffe Tane

More from the Cornell University Library exhibit: Mark Twain cigar sign. “Liked by All.” Baltimore: Parker Metal Dec. Company, ca. 1913-1931. This is the sign used to advertise the five-cent Wolf cigars that bore Twain’s name from 1913 into the late 1930s. “Mark Twain” appears in prominent red letters, flanked by “Liked by All” and “5¢ Cigars 5¢,” a motto that echos the words emblazoned on the cigar boxes themselves: “Mark Twain: Known to Everyone-Liked by All.” From the collection of Susan Jaffe Tane

A modern incarnation of Mark Twain cigars exists, made by yet another company.  Cigars International sells them on the internet:

The modern Mark Twain Cigar

The modern Mark Twain Cigar – image from Cigars International

Silky smooth 50-54 ring Churchills for 3 bucks.

If I cannot smoke in heaven, then I shall not go.

​In addition to being a true American treasure, Mark Twain was rarely seen sans cigar. The man’s list of positive attributes didn’t stop there – humanitarian, novelist, humorist, scholar, plus world class jump roper and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master. Just kidding about that part. Mark Twain cigars also happen to bring an extensive list of positive attributes to the table. All smooth and mild, all tasty, all extremely affordable, all monster Churchill sizes ranging from 7”x50 to 8”x54. Draped in a silky Connecticut shade wrapper and generously filled with an aged blend of Nicaraguan long-fillers, Mark Twain delivers a flavorful, mild to medium-bodied experience. Notes of oak, cream, white pepper add to a rich tobacco core, completing a mellow but eventful 60+ minutes of your time.

For 3 bucks, these big boom sticks are the ultimate value-priced handmades.

“Boom sticks?”

Now, on to track down what kind of whiskey he preferred . . .

More:

Mark Twain Cigar Sign. Advertising sign with slogan, “Mark Twain: Known to Everyone—Liked by All.” Pennsylvania: Wolf Bros., ca. 1913-1930. [zoom]  No evidence links Clemens to the production of Mark Twain Cigars, but his fame and popularity were used to market this product. This advertisement contains some “stretchers” as Huck Finn would have called them. Under the phrase “Known to Everyone - Liked by All” the Wolf Brothers have added their copyright statement, but the phrase was coined by the author and appeared on handbills to promote Mark Twain lectures in the 1880s. The artwork used for the portrait was based on a photograph taken by Napoleon Sarony in 1893, a photograph that Clemens was not particularly fond of and which he called that “damned old libel.” The sign also contains a script-like autograph that was not Mark Twain’s signature.  From the collection of Susan Jaffe Tane

Caption from the Cornell Library exhibit: Mark Twain Cigar Sign. Advertising sign with slogan, “Mark Twain: Known to Everyone—Liked by All.” Pennsylvania: Wolf Bros., ca. 1913-1930. No evidence links Clemens to the production of Mark Twain Cigars, but his fame and popularity were used to market this product. This advertisement contains some “stretchers” as Huck Finn would have called them. Under the phrase “Known to Everyone – Liked by All” the Wolf Brothers have added their copyright statement, but the phrase was coined by the author and appeared on handbills to promote Mark Twain lectures in the 1880s. The artwork used for the portrait was based on a photograph taken by Napoleon Sarony in 1893, a photograph that Clemens was not particularly fond of and which he called that “damned old libel.” The sign also contains a script-like autograph that was not Mark Twain’s signature. From the collection of Susan Jaffe Tane


Whiskey and Cigar Day, November 30, 2013: We toast Mark Twain’s and Winston Churchill’s births

November 30, 2013

Mark Twain, afloat

Mark Twain aboard a ship, on his way to Hawaii. Young Samuel Clemens apprenticed to be a Mississippi river boat pilot, and held a fascination for water-going vessels his entire life. His pilot years are documented, and analyzed, in Life on the Mississippi.
This photo of Twain remains one of my favorites.

November 30 is the birthday of Mark Twain (1835), and Winston Churchill (1874).

This is the traditional Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub post to remind you. Both were lovers of good whiskey, and good cigars. Surely they would have toasted themselves with a drink and a smoke.

Even if we don’t, we can pretend we did.

In 2013, we have the benefit of having had a couple of years to digest Twain’s Autobiography, as we await our copies of Volume II, and we have the benefit of new scholarship and year to read a great book on Churchill, William Manchester’s and Paul Reid’s The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965.

Twain had a comment on the Texas Education Agency and State Board of Education:

In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made School Boards.

Following the Equator; Pudd’nhead Wilson‘s New Calendar

The Nobel literature committees were slow; Twain did not win a Nobel in Literature; he died in 1910. Churchill did win, in 1953.

Both men were aficionados of good whiskey and good cigars. Both men suffered from depression in old age.

Both men made a living writing, early in their careers as newspaper correspondents. One waged wars of a kind the other campaigned against. Both were sustained by their hope for the human race, against overwhelming evidence that such hope was sadly misplaced.

churchill-time-cover-man-of-the-year-1941.jpg

Winston S. Churchill, Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for 1941, copyright 1941 by Time Magazine. Churchill’s career was built much on his work as First Lord of the Admiralty, a position he took in 1911.  While he was the goat of the Battle of the Dardanelles (and had to resign as a result), his earlier work to switch Britain’s Navy to oil power from coal, and to use airplanes in combat, kept the British Navy as an important and modern military organization through World War II.

Both endured fantastic failures that would have killed other people, and both rebounded.

Each possessed a great facility with words, and wit, and frequently said or wrote things that people like to remember and repeat again.

Both of them rank near the top of the list of people to whom almost any quote will be attributed if the quote is witty and the speaker can’t remember, or doesn’t know, who actually said it.

Both men are worth study. And wouldn’t you really love to have had them over to dinner?

Twain, on prisons versus education:

Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won’t fatten the dog.” – Speech, November 23, 1900

Churchill on the evil men and nations do:

“No One Would Do Such Things”

“So now the Admiralty wireless whispers through the ether to the tall masts of ships, and captains pace their decks absorbed in thought. It is nothing. It is less than nothing. It is too foolish, too fantastic to be thought of in the twentieth century. Or is it fire and murder leaping out of the darkness at our throats, torpedoes ripping the bellies of half-awakened ships, a sunrise on a vanished naval supremacy, and an island well-guarded hitherto, at last defenceless? No, it is nothing. No one would do such things. Civilization has climbed above such perils. The interdependence of nations in trade and traffic, the sense of public law, the Hague Convention, Liberal principles, the Labour Party, high finance, Christian charity, common sense have rendered such nightmares impossible. Are you quite sure? It would be a pity to be wrong. Such a mistake could only be made once—once for all.”

—1923, recalling the possibility of war between France and Germany after the Agadir Crisis of 1911, in The World Crisis,vol. 1, 1911-1914, pp. 48-49. (Obviously, and sadly, Churchill was wrong — twice wrong.)

Image of Twain aboard ship – origin unknown. Image of Winston S. Churchill, Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for 1941, copyright 1941 by Time Magazine.

More on Mark Twain

More on Winston Churchill

Orson Welles, with Dick Cavett, on Churchill, his wit, humor and grace (tip of the old scrub brush to the Churchill Centre):

Yeah, mostly this is an encore post from past years.

More, contemporary reports from 2012:

And in 2013:

Should you fly your flag today?  Congress doesn’t list this dual birthday as an event for flying the U.S. flag.  But you’re welcome to fly the flag any day.  Go ahead, if you want to.


Fly your flag today, another way of giving thanks

November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving is one of the days designated in the Flag Code for Americans to fly their U.S. flags.  I know it’s cold — think of the veterans in the snows of Korea, the snows of Finland, or Valley Forge.  Go fly that flag!

U.S. flag flying at the Post Office in Mooresville, Alabama.  This is the oldest operating post office in the state.  Image from Original Green

U.S. flag flying at the Post Office in Mooresville, Alabama. This is the oldest operating post office in the state. Image from Original Green

Last year I noted some of the history of the holiday — check out that post.

In 1782, the 2nd Continental Congress declared a thanks giving on November 28.  Here’s the notice from a New Hampshire newspaper.

State of New-Hampshire. In Committee of Safety, Exeter, November 1, 1782 : Ordered, that the following proclamation for a general thanksgiving on the twenty-eighth day of November instant, received from the honorable Continental Congress, be forthwith printed ...

State of New-Hampshire. In Committee of Safety, Exeter, November 1, 1782 : Ordered, that the following proclamation for a general thanksgiving on the twenty-eighth day of November instant, received from the honorable Continental Congress, be forthwith printed …  From the American Memories Collection at the Library of Congress.

So let Old Glory free, today.


Who’s on first? Heck, I just wanted to know about the Periodic Table . . .

November 28, 2013

Genius from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal:

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, paying tribute to Abbott and Costello while educating us on the Periodic Table of the Elements.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, paying tribute to Abbott and Costello while educating us on the Periodic Table of the Elements.


Encore: “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving” by Thomas Nast, 1869

November 27, 2013

November 1869, in the first year of the Grant administration — and Nast put aside his own prejudices enough to invite the Irish guy to dinner, along with many others.

(Click for a larger image — it’s well worth it.)

Thomas Nast's "Uncle Sam's Thanksgiving," 1869 - Ohio State University's cartoon collection

Thomas Nast’s “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving,” 1869 – Ohio State University’s cartoon collection, and HarpWeek

As described at the Ohio State site:

“Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving Dinner” marks the highpoint of Nast’s Reconstruction-era idealism. By November 1869 the Fourteenth Amendment, which secures equal rights and citizenship to all Americans, was ratified. Congress had sent the Fifteenth Amendment, which forbade racial discrimination in voting rights, to the states and its ratification appeared certain. Although the Republican Party had absorbed a strong nativist element in the 1850s, its commitment to equality seemed to overshadow lingering nativism, a policy of protecting the interests of indigenous residents against immigrants. Two national symbols, Uncle Sam and Columbia, host all the peoples of the world who have been attracted to the United States by its promise of self-government and democracy. Germans, African Americans, Chinese, Native Americans, Germans, French, Spaniards: “Come one, come all,” Nast cheers at the lower left corner.

One of my Chinese students identified the Oriental woman as Japanese, saying it was “obvious.” The figure at the farthest right is a slightly cleaned-up version of the near-ape portrayal Nast typically gave Irishmen.  Other friends say both are Chinese.  Regional differences.

If Nast could put aside his biases to celebrate the potential of unbiased immigration to the U.S. and the society that emerges, maybe we can, too.

Hope your day is good; hope you have good company and good cheer, turkey or not. Happy Thanksgiving.

More: Earlier posts from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub

And in 2013:

Yes, if you’re a faithful reader here, you’ve seen it before.


There’s a Milky Way in Australia?

November 26, 2013

Yes, but it’s upside down, right?

Meredith Frost Tweeted: Great shot of the Milky Way over Western Australia (Photo/Mike Salway) An Astronomy Picture of the DayMeredith Frost Tweeted: Great shot of the Milky Way over Western Australia (Photo/Mike Salway) An Astronomy Picture of the Day

Meredith Frost Tweeted: Great shot of the Milky Way over Western Australia (Photo/Mike Salway) An Astronomy Picture of the Day

Turns out this was the Astronomy Picture of the Day back in September 2012.  NASA said:

Milky Way Over the Bungle Bungles
Image Credit & Copyright: Mike Salway Explanation: Which part of this picture do you find more interesting — the land or the sky? Advocates for the land might cite the beauty of the ancient domes of the Bungle Bungle Range in Western Australia. These picturesque domes appear as huge layered beehives and are made of sandstones and conglomerates deposited over 350 million years ago. Advocates for the sky might laud the beauty of the Milky Way’s central band shown arching from horizon to horizon. The photogenic Milky Way band formed over 10 billion years ago and now includes many well-known nebulae and bright stars. Fortunately, you don’t have to decide and can enjoy both together in this beautiful 8-frame panorama taken from the dark skies of Purnululu National Park about two months ago.

Decide Anyway: Land or Sky

I’d make some remarks about silly names for land formations in Australia — but here we sit with The Grand Tetons, The Gros Ventre, and several dozen “Molly’s Nipples” in our nation.

But really:  Bungle-Bungles?

Ain’t geography grand? Ain’t nature grand? Ain’t NASA doing something right?

More:

 


November 30, Whiskey and Cigar Day: How will you celebrate Twain and Churchill?

November 25, 2013

The Author, painting the fence next to Mark Twain's home in Hannibal, Missouri, in 2012.  Had to trade some marbles and a yo-yo for the privilege . . .

The Author, painting the fence next to Mark Twain’s home in Hannibal, Missouri, in 2012. Had to trade some marbles and a yo-yo for the privilege . . .

This Saturday, November 30, is Whiskey and Cigar Day, the day we celebrate the births of Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, and Winston Churchill.

Whiskey and cigars are appropriate, even before noon (good thing it’s a Saturday, eh?)

What do you plan to celebrate?

How do you celebrate, if you don’t plan to use cigars or whiskey?  Readings from the men?

Comments are open for your ideas.

A cigar of Winston Churchill's, on display in Fulton, Missouri

A cigar of Winston Churchill’s, on display in Fulton, Missouri

More:


Open thread: Polite explanations of evolution, for anyone who cares to ask.

November 24, 2013

A friend notes that he can’t seem to get good explanations of evolution from scientists or science-knowledgeable people, not without a great deal of condescension and snark against creationists.

My experience is quite the opposite — I generally find it difficult to maintain a discussion without creationists blowing up at me, and calling names.  So this will be a great exercise in snark and manners control for me.

Rules of this thread:  Ask any question about evolution.  Avoid snark and rudeness.  Be polite.  Provide information without condescension, ridicule, and especially hoax.  Any and all questions on evolution should be fair game.

Let’s see what happens, in comments.

More – sources, resources and commentary readers may find useful:

Cartoon from Tony Auth

Cartoon from Tony Auth


President Obama’s statement on preliminary agreement to stop nuclear proliferation in Iran

November 24, 2013

After the agreement was announced, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry embraced.

Foreign ministers of several nations collaborated in Geneva, Switzerland, to get an agreement to stop proliferation of nuclear weapons to Iran; an agreement to lead to a larger agreement was struck Saturday, November 23, 2013. After the agreement was announced, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry embraced.

Obama, Iran, Kerry, Nuclear, sanctions

More:

Foreign Ministers announce agreement on Iranian nuclear weapons development, November 23, 2013

Image and caption via CNN: Chief negotiator Catherine Ashton and Iran’s foreign minister announce agreement on Iran’s nuclear program early on Sunday, November 24 in Geneva. From left to right: British Foreign Secretary William Hague, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.


Fly your flag at half-staff today, honoring President John F. Kennedy

November 22, 2013

U.S. flags at the Washington Monument fly at half-staff, with the dome of the U.S. Capitol in the background.  Image captured from U.S. Flags.com

U.S. flags at the Washington Monument fly at half-staff, with the dome of the U.S. Capitol in the background. Image captured from U.S. Flags.com

November 22, 2013:  A proclamation from President Barack Obama:

Obama Proclamation on Day of Remembrance for President Kennedy

21 November 2013

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
November 21, 2013

DAY OF REMEMBRANCE FOR PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

A half century ago, America mourned the loss of an extraordinary public servant. With broad vision and soaring but sober idealism, President John F. Kennedy had called a generation to service and summoned a Nation to greatness. Today, we honor his memory and celebrate his enduring imprint on American history.

In his 3 years as President of the United States, John F. Kennedy weathered some of the most perilous tests of the Cold War and led America to the cusp of a bright new age. His leadership through the Cuban Missile Crisis remains the standard for American diplomacy at its finest. In a divided Berlin, he delivered a stirring defense of freedom that would echo through the ages, yet he also knew that we must advance human rights here at home. During his final year in office, he proposed a civil rights bill that called for an end to segregation in America. And recognizing women’s basic right to earn a living equal to their efforts, he signed the Equal Pay Act into law.

While President Kennedy’s life was tragically cut short, his vision lives on in the generations he inspired — volunteers who serve as ambassadors for peace in distant corners of the globe, scientists and engineers who reach for new heights in the face of impossible odds, innovators who set their sights on the new frontiers of our time. Today and in the decades to come, let us carry his legacy forward. Let us face today’s tests by beckoning the spirit he embodied — that fearless, resilient, uniquely American character that has always driven our Nation to defy the odds, write our own destiny, and make the world anew.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 22, 2013, as a Day of Remembrance for President John F. Kennedy. I call upon all Americans to honor his life and legacy with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities. I also call upon Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, officials of the other territories subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, and appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff on the Day of Remembrance for President John F. Kennedy. I further encourage all Americans to display the flag at half-staff from their homes and businesses on that day.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

BARACK OBAMA

More:

White House photo:  Presidents and First Ladies, Barack and Michelle Obama, and Bill and Hillary Clinton, post a wreath and salute President John F. Kennedy at Kennedy's gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery, November 20, 2013

White House photo: Presidents and First Ladies, Barack and Michelle Obama, and Bill and Hillary Clinton, post a wreath and salute President John F. Kennedy at Kennedy’s gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery, November 20, 2013


Chess games of the rich and famous: Thomas Eakins’s version

November 19, 2013

“The Chess Players” by Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), 1876; in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wikipedia image

One must appreciate Eakins’s great skills, even if one does not love his work — but I love it.

In this 1876 painting, he portrays a game of chess.  Was it a real game?  “The players are Bertrand Gardel on the left, and George Holmes on the right. The artist’s father, Benjamin Eakins, stands and watches the match.”  Some critics claim the painting carries allegory to several levels: “Art historian Akela Reason proposes that the painting is a tribute to a number of the artist’s father-figures: Holmes probably was Eakins’s first art teacher; Gardel was his French teacher; Benjamin Eakins was his literal father; and Jean-Léon Gérôme, his master at the École des Beaux-Arts, is represented by a print of Ave Caesar Morituri te Salutant, over the clock.”

It’s a game of chess.

Sadly, the cat is unidentified.

More:


Quote of the moment, encore: President asks the Senate Majority Leader for help on the debt ceiling issue, November 16, 1983

November 16, 2013

Ronald Reagan preparing for a video address from the Oval Office. (Photo is from 1989; this post is about a 1983 address.)  Wikipedia image

Ronald Reagan preparing for a video address from the Oval Office. (Photo is from 1989; this post is about a 1983 event.) Wikipedia image

In a letter to the Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate, the President wrote:

This letter is to ask for your help and support, and that of your colleagues, in the passage of an increase in the limit on the public debt.

As [the Treasury Secretary] has told you, the Treasury’s cash balances have reached a dangerously low point.  Henceforth the Treasury Department cannot guarantee that the Federal Government will have sufficient cash on any one day to meet all of its mandated expenses, and thus the United States could be forced to default on its obligations for the first time in history.

This country now possesses the strongest credit in the world.  The full consequences of a default — or even the serious prospect of default — by the United States are impossible to predict and awesome to contemplate.  Denigration of the full faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on the domestic financial markets and on the value of the dollar in exchange markets.  The Nation can ill afford to allow such a result.  The risks, the costs, the disruptions, and the incalculable damage lead me to but one conclusion:  the Senate must pass this legislation before the Congress adjourns.

I want to thank you for your immediate attention to this urgent problem, and for your assistance in passing an extension of the debt ceiling.

Sincerely,

         Ronald Reagan

True then.  Still true now.

Letter from President Ronald Reagan to Senate Majority Leader Sen. Howard Baker, R-Tennessee, November 16, 1983.  The Treasury Secretary at the time was Donald Regan.

Tip of the old scrub brush to mainstream media pillar, The Washington Post, where a .pdf of the letter is available.

More:

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NASA’s photo of the day the Earth smiled

November 13, 2013

NASA's caption:  On July 19, 2013, in an event celebrated the world over, NASA's Cassini spacecraft slipped into Saturn's shadow and turned to image the planet, seven of its moons, its inner rings -- and, in the background, our home planet, Earth. Image Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

NASA’s caption: On July 19, 2013, in an event celebrated the world over, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft slipped into Saturn’s shadow and turned to image the planet, seven of its moons, its inner rings — and, in the background, our home planet, Earth. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

It’s difficult to improve on NASA’s matter-of-fact explanations.

The Day the Earth Smiled

On July 19, 2013, in an event celebrated the world over, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft slipped into Saturn’s shadow and turned to image the planet, seven of its moons, its inner rings — and, in the background, our home planet, Earth.

With the sun’s powerful and potentially damaging rays eclipsed by Saturn itself, Cassini’s onboard cameras were able to take advantage of this unique viewing geometry. They acquired a panoramic mosaic of the Saturn system that allows scientists to see details in the rings and throughout the system as they are backlit by the sun. This mosaic is special as it marks the third time our home planet was imaged from the outer solar system; the second time it was imaged by Cassini from Saturn’s orbit; and the first time ever that inhabitants of Earth were made aware in advance that their photo would be taken from such a great distance.

With both Cassini’s wide-angle and narrow-angle cameras aimed at Saturn, Cassini was able to capture 323 images in just over four hours. This final mosaic uses 141 of those wide-angle images. Images taken using the red, green and blue spectral filters of the wide-angle camera were combined and mosaicked together to create this natural-color view. A brightened version with contrast and color enhanced, a version with just the planets annotated, and an unannotated version are also available.

This image spans about 404,880 miles (651,591 kilometers) across.

The outermost ring shown here is Saturn’s E ring, the core of which is situated about 149,000 miles (240,000  kilometers) from Saturn. The geysers erupting from the south polar terrain of the moon Enceladus supply the fine icy particles that comprise the E ring; diffraction by sunlight gives the ring its blue color. Enceladus (313 miles, or 504 kilometers, across) and the extended plume formed by its jets are visible, embedded in the E ring on the left side of the mosaic.

At the 12 o’clock position and a bit inward from the E ring lies the barely discernible ring created by the tiny, Cassini-discovered moon, Pallene (3 miles, or 4 kilometers, across). (For more on structures like Pallene’s ring, see PIA08328). The next narrow and easily seen ring inward is the G ring. Interior to the G ring, near the 11 o’clock position, one can barely see the more diffuse ring created by the co-orbital moons, Janus (111 miles, or 179 kilometers, across) and Epimetheus (70 miles, or 113 kilometers, across). Farther inward, we see the very bright F ring closely encircling the main rings of Saturn.

Following the outermost E ring counter-clockwise from Enceladus, the moon Tethys (662 miles, or 1,066 kilometers, across) appears as a large yellow orb just outside of the E ring. Tethys is positioned on the illuminated side of Saturn; its icy surface is shining brightly from yellow sunlight reflected by Saturn. Continuing to about the 2 o’clock position is a dark pixel just outside of the G ring; this dark pixel is Saturn’s Death Star moon, Mimas (246 miles, or 396 kilometers, across). Mimas appears, upon close inspection, as a very thin crescent because Cassini is looking mostly at its non-illuminated face.

The moons Prometheus, Pandora, Janus and Epimetheus are also visible in the mosaic near Saturn’s bright narrow F ring. Prometheus (53 miles, or 86 kilometers, across) is visible as a faint black dot just inside the F ring and at the 9 o’clock position. On the opposite side of the rings, just outside the F ring, Pandora (50 miles, or 81 kilometers, across) can be seen as a bright white dot. Pandora and Prometheus are shepherd moons and gravitational interactions between the ring and the moons keep the F ring narrowly confined. At the 11 o’clock position in between the F ring and the G ring, Janus (111 miles, or 179 kilometers, across) appears as a faint black dot. Janus and Prometheus are dark for the same reason Mimas is mostly dark: we are looking at their non-illuminated sides in this mosaic.  Midway between the F ring and the G ring, at about the 8 o’clock position, is a single bright pixel, Epimetheus. Looking more closely at Enceladus, Mimas and Tethys, especially in the brightened version of the mosaic, one can see these moons casting shadows through the E ring like a telephone pole might cast a shadow through a fog.

In the non-brightened version of the mosaic, one can see bright clumps of ring material orbiting within the Encke gap near the outer edge of the main rings and immediately to the lower left of the globe of Saturn. Also, in the dark B ring within the main rings, at the 9 o’clock position, one can see the faint outlines of two spoke features, first sighted by NASA’s Voyager spacecraft in the early 1980s and extensively studied by Cassini.

Finally, in the lower right of the mosaic, in between the bright blue E ring and the faint but defined G ring, is the pale blue dot of our planet, Earth. Look closely and you can see the moon protruding from the Earth’s lower right. (For a higher resolution view of the Earth and moon taken during this campaign, see PIA14949.) Earth’s twin, Venus, appears as a bright white dot in the upper left quadrant of the mosaic, also between the G and E rings.  Mars also appears as a faint red dot embedded in the outer edge of the E ring, above and to the left of Venus.

For ease of visibility, Earth, Venus, Mars, Enceladus, Epimetheus and Pandora were all brightened by a factor of eight and a half relative to Saturn. Tethys was brightened by a factor of four. In total, 809 background stars are visible and were brightened by a factor ranging from six, for the brightest stars, to 16, for the faintest. The faint outer rings (from the G ring to the E ring) were also brightened relative to the already bright main rings by factors ranging from two to eight, with the lower-phase-angle (and therefore fainter) regions of these rings brightened the most. The brightened version of the mosaic was further brightened and contrast-enhanced all over to accommodate print applications and a wide range of computer-screen viewing conditions.

Some ring features — such as full rings traced out by tiny moons — do not appear in this version of the mosaic because they require extreme computer enhancement, which would adversely affect the rest of the mosaic. This version was processed for balance and beauty.

This view looks toward the unlit side of the rings from about 17 degrees below the ring plane. Cassini was approximately 746,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Saturn when the images in this mosaic were taken. Image scale on Saturn is about 45 miles (72 kilometers) per pixel.

This mosaic was made from pictures taken over a span of more than four hours while the planets, moons and stars were all moving relative to Cassini. Thus, due to spacecraft motion, these objects in the locations shown here were not in these specific places over the entire duration of the imaging campaign. Note also that Venus appears far from Earth, as does Mars, because they were on the opposite side of the sun from Earth.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov .

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

Bigger image:

Cassini's view looking back from Saturn, on July 19, 2013, the day the Earth smiled. Click for much larger view.  NASA photo and annotations

Cassini’s view looking back from Saturn, on July 19, 2013, the day the Earth smiled. Click for much larger view. NASA photo and annotations

What do you think:  Tax money well spent?

More:


If a student values education, he will overcome much

November 13, 2013

But, really: See what some students put up with, just to learn?

We usually had enough chairs in Dallas.  Usually.

Those kids don’t have any.


Annals of global warming: Great Lakes need water

November 13, 2013

Does Lake Michigan's record low mark beginning of new era for Great Lakes? At least 150 years of rhythmic pulses in Lake Michigan's water levels appear to have shifted abruptly with loss of winter ice.   Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Photo and caption from Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Does Lake Michigan’s record low mark beginning of new era for Great Lakes? At least 150 years of rhythmic pulses in Lake Michigan’s water levels appear to have shifted abruptly with loss of winter ice. Photo by Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Don’t get complacent, yet.  Has enough water fallen in the Great Lakes drainage area in the past six months to change this situation at all?  From the New York Times last June:

Drought and other factors have created historically low water marks for the Great Lakes, putting the $34 billion Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway shipping industry in peril, a situation that could send ominous ripples throughout the economy.

Water levels in the Great Lakes have been below their long-term averages during the past 14 years, and this winter the water in Lakes Michigan and Huron, the hardest-hit lakes, dropped to record lows, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Keith Kompoltowicz, the chief of watershed hydrology with the corps’s Detroit district, said that in January “the monthly mean was the lowest ever recorded, going back to 1918.”

While spring rains have helped so far this year, levels in all five Great Lakes are still low by historical standards, so getting through the shallow points in harbors and channels is a tense affair.

It’s not just storms, rising sea levels, and melting glaciers, you know.

The Great Lakes as seen from space. The Great ...

The Great Lakes from space. The Great Lakes are the largest glacial lakes in the world. NASA photo via Wikipedia

More:

Great Lakes in Sunglint (NASA, International S...

Great Lakes in Sunglint (NASA, International Space Station, 06/14/12) (Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center)


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