What examples do our children take from our quadrennial elections? What lessons have they learned in 2016?
Do our kids adopt these attitudes into their daily lives?
What do your kids’ teachers say they see? What do you see?
What examples do our children take from our quadrennial elections? What lessons have they learned in 2016?
Do our kids adopt these attitudes into their daily lives?
What do your kids’ teachers say they see? What do you see?
It’s been 57 years since the youngest state entered the union — the longest stretch in which the U.S. has not added another state.
“On June 14, 1959, Boy Scout Milton Motooka helped get the word out for Hawaii’s statehood plebiscite to be held 13 days later. A new documentary will focus on Hawaii’s statehood.” Hawaiians voted yes in the plebiscite, and statehood was declared two months later. (Whatever became of Scout Motooka?)
June’s plebiscite smoothed the path for statehood, declared two months later.
Hawaii’s official statehood day is August 21, commemorating the day in 1959 when Hawaii was recognized as a member of the union of the United States of America. Hawaiians should fly their flags to day in honor of the date (you may, too).
Hawaii formally celebrates the day on the third Friday in August, this year on the 19th. I hope you joined in the festivities (it’s a holiday in Hawaii) — but under the U.S. Flag Code, you may certainly fly your flags on August 21, regardless which day of the week that is.
After the U.S. annexed Hawaii in 1898 (in action separate from the Spanish-American War) attempts at getting Hawaii admitted as a state got rolling. After World War II, with the strategic importance of the islands firmly implanted in Americans’ minds, the project picked up some steam. Still, it was 14 years after the end of the war that agreements were worked out between the people of Hawaii, the Hawaiian royal family, Congress and the executive branch. The deal passed into law had to be ratified by a plebiscite among Hawaiian citizens. The proposition won approval with 94% of votes in favor.
Some native Hawaiian opposition to statehood arose later, and deference to those complaints has muted statehood celebrations in the 21st century.
Other than the tiny handful of loudmouth birthers, most Americans today are happy to have Hawaii as a state, the fifth richest in the U.S. by personal income. The nation has a lot of good and great beaches, but the idea of catching sun and surf in Hawaii on vacation might be considered an idealized part of the American dream.
“Loudmouth birthers?” Yeah, Barack Obama, our 45th President, was born in Hawaii in 1961. Some whiners think that, but for statehood, Obama would not have been a citizen eligible to be president. Hawaii is not good ground for growing sour grapes, though. Birth in a territory would probably be enough to make him eligible. Water under the bridge: Hawaii was a state in 1961. President Obama remains president.
August 19 is National Aviation Day. In federal law, the day is designated for flying the flag (36 USC 1 § 118).
August 19 is the anniversary of the birth of Orville Wright, usually credited with being on the team with his brother Wilbur who successfully built and flew the first heavier-than-air flying machine.
Celebrate? The White House issued no proclamation for 2016, but you may fly your flag anyway.
One wag, who didn’t want to discuss things after all, referred me to President Franklin Roosevelt’s message to the National Federal of Federal Employees (NFFE), of August 16, 1937 (from the American Presidency Project at the University of California – Santa Barbara (UCSB)). The wag asked me to confess that FDR was anti-union, and that Wisconsin Gov. Scott “Ahab” Walker had acted in Roosevelt’s path in Walker’s assaults on the unions of policemen, firefighters and teachers in Wisconsin.
I demurred, and pointed out instead that Walker went after the unions despite their having NOT struck, that Walker refused to bargain in good faith, or bargain at all. I pointed out that Walker had failed in his duty, in the view of FDR.
It’s a good way to send wags packing on Twitter, I’ve learned. They don’t like to read or think, and they certainly don’t want anyone pointing out that they may have misinterpreted something. Anything.
NFFE had invited Roosevelt to speak at their Twentieth Jubilee Convention; Roosevelt sent a letter declining the invitation. In declining, Roosevelt noted he opposed strikes by government employees. No doubt there is more history there that deserves our attention. We can get to it later.
Here’s the meat of FDR’s letter:
Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that “under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government.”
What do you think Roosevelt would have made of the current and last “do nothing” GOP blocs in Congress? (Or should we say “blocks?”)
Doesn’t this describe Republicans in Congress today?
” . . . intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable.”
Is it too much to ask Republicans in Congress to be at least as loyal to the U.S. as the unionized government employees who pledged not to shut down the government?
FDR was pro-union, for very good reasons. Patriots should be, too.
Albert Einstein played a mean violin. I don’t think any recordings exist, but some say he was good enough to have earned a slot in a decent symphony.
Albert Schweitzer made money to support his work for health in Africa by offering organ recitals.
Thomas Edison liked to hire men in his lab who played instruments. In the midst of high pressure experimentation, they would often take a break as a group, and do a performance just for themselves.
People who make music often claim they do it to relax, but there may be more than mere relaxation going on when we play an instrument or sing. It’s possible making music makes us better at doing other things, too.
Should we be surprised this showed up from the World Economic Forum?
It’s an article by Assal Habibi who is a researcher at the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, at the website of WEF, explaining where his group is going to find out how music training affects the way we think and work.
Music training has been found to be related to better language and mathematical skills, higher IQ and overall greater academic achievement. Also, differences between musicians and nonmusicians have been found in areas of the brain related to hearing and movement, among others.
However, the interpretation of the findings remains unclear. For example, the differences reported between adult musicians and nonmusicians might be due to long-term intensive training or might result primarily from inherent biological factors, such as genetic makeup.
Or, as with many aspects of the nature-versus-nurture debate, the differences may well result from contributions of both environmental and biological factors.
One way to better understand the effects of music training on child development would be to study children before they start any music training and follow them systematically after, to see how their brain and behavior change in relation to their training.
It would involve including a comparison group, as all children change with age. The ideal comparison group would be children who participate in equally socially interactive but nonmusical training, such as sports. Follow-up assessments after their training would reveal how each group changes over time.
Go take a look.
If you’re a teacher, ask whether you should be incorporating more music into your social studies, language or science classes. If you’re a manager or employer, ask whether you should be encouraging your team members to find musical outlets.
If you’re just curious, ask whether you wouldn’t be better off to volunteer in a local choir or band.
Maybe we should all dance to beats of different drummers, and violinsts, and guitarists, and clarinetists and . . .
Three years of this study remain. But these interim results are promising. They support previous findings on the positive impact of music training on brain development.
Our findings suggest that music training during childhood, even for a period as brief as two years, can accelerate brain development and sound processing. We believe that this may benefit language acquisition in children given that developing language and reading skills engage similar brain areas. This can particularly benefit at-risk children in low socioeconomic status neighborhoods who experience more difficulties with language development.
Should we be using this tool to better educate our kids?
It’s a different Leonidas, but Michael Phelps yesterday tied a record for winning 12 solo events in Olympics previously held by a man called Leonidas of Rhodes. The record had stood, as best historians can tell, for 2,168 years.
That was August 10, 2016. On August 11, we remember Leonidas of Sparta, for events in war, not peace.
300 popped up on some movie channel back in 2008 as I was preparing to teach world history again. I did not major in history, and my high school history instruction featured no AP courses (Pleasant Grove High, in Utah, didn’t offer such things then; I assume they do now, but I don’t know).
What I knew about Sparta and the stand of the 300 at Thermopylae came from my reading encyclopedias as a child, and culture. Never had an occasion to write a speech about the events, though had I known the history better, I might have found some opportunity. Sen. Orrin Hatch would have loved a compare and contrast speech between the stand of the Spartans and his work against the labor law reform bill in 1977 and 1978; more likely, we could have used the simple historical facts that the stand of the 300 at the same place today would be impossible due to poor soil conservation practices of the local farmers, which has created a plain broad enough for a Persian Army to march through with impunity, never fearing drowning in the sea that no longer exists there. Thermopylae is a grand historical metaphor for a good orator. The simple facts of history are important, too — Churchill knew Herodotus’s stories well, and considered them when planning military actions in the area in two world wars.
The movie came up from students in the previous year; it offered, perhaps, a hook for an introduction to world history, explaining why we bother to study it at all.
I got a time delay recording to watch it, which I did, mostly. Interesting stylization. Cartoonish characterizations, which one should expect from a movie intended as homage to the graphic novel that directly spawned it, more than an instruction about history. We might doubt that the Persians had trained and armored rhinoceroses in their armament. Dialogue — well, this is Hollywood. It would have been in some dialect of Greek, and no Hollywood scriptwriter would have been able to reproduce it.
What about the battle itself. World history courses in U.S. high schools should pay attention to this battle, I think.
Several sources dated the climax of the battle as August 11, 480 B.C. — 2,493 years ago. (The battle is said to have occurred during the Olympics that year, too.)
World history classes dig through that period of history in the first semester. Teachers, it’s time to think about how we’re going to facilitate this history this year. As always, some bright student will wave a hand in the air and ask, “Mr. Darrell! How do they know what happened if no one survived, and nobody had their Sony videocorder?”
At least one other student in the course of the day will be surprised to discover the movie wasn’t a filmed-on-the-spot documentary. But apart from that, how do we know the events well enough to pin it down to one day? And, since the Greeks surely didn’t use the Gregorian calendar, since it wasn’t invented until the 18th century — how do we know the date?
The short answer is “Herodotus.” The longer answer may resonate better: This is one dramatic battle in a year-long fight for the history of the world. The Greeks were understandably and justifiably proud that they had turned back Xerxes’s armies and navy (The Battle of Salamis, a bit after Thermopylae). So, these events were preserved in poetry, in the chronicles, in song, in sculpture, and in every other medium available to the Greeks. Your AP English students will probably tell you the movie reminds them of The Iliad. There’s an entré for discussion.
Turning points in history: Had Xerxes succeeded in avenging his father’s, Darius’s, defeats, and subjugated the Greeks, history would be much different. The culture the Romans built on, the trading patterns from east to west and around the Mediterranean, the technologies, the myths, and the stories of the battles, would be different. (Remember, one of Darius’s defeats was at the Battle of Marathon, from which we get the modern marathon racing event, the traditional close of the modern Olympics.)
How do we know? How do we know?
How do you handle that question? (Tell us in comments, please.)
I like this battle for the way it ties together many of the loose threads that vex high school sophomores. Is history exciting? It can be, as the Frank Miller graphic novel and and the Zack Snyder movie demonstrate. How important is accuracy in making the story exciting? (Do the rhinoceroses improve the story of the courage of the Spartans, or merely offer a good graphical metaphor for the overwhelming forces of the Persians?) What happens when one nation invades another — who has the advantage? Is knowledge of geography important — in battle, for example? The philosopher Santayana notes that those who do not remember history are “condemned” to repeat it. Xerxes tried to apply the lessons of the history of his father’s failed invasion; was he successful? Remember this point: Napoleon failed in his invasion of Russia in 1812; Adolf Hitler assigned his generals to study Napoleon’s failure, for Germany’s invasion of Russia in 1941; so convinced were the Germans that they knew the lessons, they invade Russia on the anniversary of Napoleon’s invasion. Did it go any better? George Washington consciously patterned his life on the great Roman warrior and leader, Cincinnatus — especially in turning over rule once the task was done, as Washington did twice. What if Washington had, instead, patterned his life after Leonidas? How might the American Revolution have turned out, and how might the United States have developed, had Washington sacrificed himself as Leonidas did?
The story of the Battle of Thermopylea, the bravery and cunning tactics of Leonidas and the 300, the wars between Persia and the Greek City States, form a good foundation for a study of history at any point after. It is the stuff of great history, and the stuff of great rhetoric. It could be the stuff of great AP essays and good writing exercises in general. Damn the Common Core State Standards*, and damn the misguided Texas critics of CSCOPE, this is a topic I wish more world history teachers would spend some good, profitable time on
Resources and commentary on Thermopylae, Leonidas, and the 300:
* Common Core State Standards in social studies actually would support what I’m asking here, if only they weren’t filtered through state school boards who do not value scholarship, but instead wish history to be a checklist of faux-patriotic bullet points to regurgitate. Here in Texas, we are not affected by Common Core — but we are affected by meddling in history standards by people whose agenda does not include making history exciting and good. Common Core standards — technically — do not mention Thermopylae. However, this is the sort of material, including the original texts of Herodotus, whose study the Common Core standards encourage, especially for analysis of the sort I think Thermopylae invites. Texas TEKS allow mention of the battle, though the Battle of Thermopylae has been purged from the actual standards; Texas lesson plans frequently suggest “watching a film on the Battle of Thermopylae,” and “Answer questions on the battle; trade and grade.” Teachers infuse those dull words with life — we hope. Teachers’ actual practice in the classroom is the saving grace for this important history, in Texas; Texas world history teachers face their own Xerxes. The Texas Lege recently removed the requirement that students study world history, instead giving them a choice of either world history or world geography. And so the dumbing down of history by (probably well-meaning, but not well-thinking) legislators continues.
August in the U.S. is a lazy, often hot, summer month. It’s a month for vacation, picnicking, local baseball games, camping, cookouts and beach vacations. It’s not a big month for events to fly the U.S. flag.
Except, perhaps, in Olympics years, when the U.S. flag is often flown a lot, in distant locations.
Only one event calls for nation-wide flag-flying in August, National Aviation Day on August 19. This event is not specified in the Flag Code, but in a separate provision in the same chapter U.S. Code. Three states celebrate statehood, Colorado, Hawaii and Missouri.
Put these dates on your calendar to fly the flag in August:
If you want to fly your flag whenever a U.S. athlete gets a gold medal at the Olympics, that’s okay. Or any medal. Or all during the Olympics.
You may fly your U.S. flag any day. These are just the suggested days in law.More:
For President Barack Obama’s 55th birthday on August 4, 2016, Yahoo! News put together a compilation of photos of the President and kids.
Kids love President Obama. They get it.
Enjoy, and share.
With 1000-year flooding having killed two in Ellicott City, Maryland, over the weekend, we should be reminded that delugic rains may increase with global warming.
And we should remember the Big Thompson River flood of July 31, 1976, and its victims.http://www.startribune.com/heating-up-this-week-raging-case-of-weather-amnesia/388762331/
Via the Paul Douglas on Weather blog at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (one of America’s great newspapers):
The Big Thompson Disaster: Reverberations of a Flash Flood, 40 Years Later. Dr. Jeff Masters has the post at WunderBlog: “What began as a celebratory Saturday in the mountains ended in tragedy 40 years ago this weekend, when a catastrophic flash flood ripped through the narrow Big Thompson Canyon of Colorado’s Front Range. A total of 144 people were killed on that Saturday evening, July 31, 1976–the eve of the 100th anniversary of Colorado’s statehood. On just about any summer weekend, the canyons northwest of Denver are packed with vacationers and day-trippers. With the state’s centennial falling on this particular weekend, the mood was especially festive, and the weather seemed no more threatening than on many other summer days. Forecasts through the day called for a 40% to 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms, but there was no particular concern about flood risk. Only a few hours later, critical gaps in weather data, communication, and public awareness had teamed up with a slow-moving deluge to create a true disaster–one that’s had a noteworthy influence on how we deal with flash floods today….”
Image credit: NOAA.
Hiking in the area recently, in a different canyon, I reflected on the tremendous changes in weather forecasting in the past 40 years. A lot of warnings about flash floods, and paths to climb up the canyon in emergencies. Plus, we had constant weather updates. Big Thompson was just one of several flood disasters in the 1970s, Masters notes. It’s worth reading his full post.
139 bodies were recovered from the flood, but many other bodies were never recovered. People died from injuries of being tossed about by the flood, and colliding with rocks and trees. Few died of drowning.
How do we prepare to survive and avoid such disasters in the future?
Colorado won proclamation as a state on August 1, 1876, the 38th state in the United States.
August 1 is Colorado Statehood day. U.S. Flag Code urges residents to fly the U.S. flag on the day their state entered the union — today, for Colorado. They call it Colorado Day now.
According to Colorado newspaperman and politician Jerry Koppel, Colorado’s path to statehood started in 1864, in an attempt to get another Republican state to boost Abraham Lincoln’s re-election chances. Coloradans rejected the proposed constitution in a plebiscite, however, which pushed the effort into the next Lincoln administration — which, sadly, a month into Lincoln’s new term, became the Andrew Johnson administration.
High politics: Colorado took a tortuous path to statehood. While Colorado was not frustrated so often nor so long as it’s nextdoor neighbor, Utah, laws proposed to bring the state into the union were vetoed twice by President Andrew Johnson. History from the Andrew Johnson National Historical Site in Greenville, Tennessee:
1. There was such a small population in the area, Johnson felt Colorado would fare better as a territory without the added taxation of statehood.
2. Also due to the small population, Colorado would have only one representative to speak for the people in Congress. (New York, on the other hand, had thirty-one).
3. Johnson felt the citizens of Colorado were not prepared for, and not all wanted, statehood. Johnson wanted to hold a census or an election there first. This would ascertain the number of people in the area, as well as find out what their strongest desire was.
1. Johnson didn’t agree with the Edmunds Amendment which said that Nebraska and Colorado had to give equal suffrage to blacks and whites as a statehood condition. Johnson felt this was unconstitutional because Congress couldn’t regulate a state’s franchise, and the people had not been allowed to vote on it.
2. After holding a census, Johnson felt the population was still too small for statehood.
NOTE: In addition, Johnson did not feel right about adding new states to the Union when the Confederate States had not yet been readmitted to the Union and were still unrepresented.
Congress sustained the veto.
Colorado Republican and millionaire Jerome Chaffee, serving as the Colorado Territory delegate to Congress, managed to get a statehood bill passed in 1875, in the second term of President Ulysses S Grant; Grant signed the law. Colorado drafted a state constitution that passed muster, Coloradans approved it, and President Grant declared Colorado the 38th state on August 1, 1876. Chaffee was elected one of the first U.S. Senators from Colorado by the new state legislature. In an odd footnote, President Grant’s son, Ulysses S Grant, Jr., married Chaffee’s daughter Fannie in 1881.
In 1875, Chaffee claimed 150,000 people lived in the state, but most historians think that figure was inflated; the 1880 census counted 194,000 people. Some historians doubt that count was accurate.
No doubt there are at least that many people in Colorado today. Several counties in the northeast corner of the state got together in 2013 to explore the possibility of separating from Colorado to form their own state. Does the political cauldron in Colorado ever cool? (Did those secessionists ever cool?)
Happy statehood day, to the Centennial State.
DoD photo by Master Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, U.S. Air Force