Fly your flag August 21, for Hawaii Statehood

August 21, 2013

A newsboy happily hawks the Honolulu Star-Bulletin with the headline showing the state had achieved statehood, August 21, 1959.  Star-Bulletin photo

13-year-old paperboy Chester Kahapea happily hawks a commemorative edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin with the headline showing the state had achieved statehood after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the law authorizing Hawaii as a state. Star-Bulletin photo by Murray Befeler.

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 — oops, last Friday, for 2013.  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.

Specimen copy of the ballot used by Hawaiians in a June 27, 1959, plebiscite to approve conditions of statehood.  Image from Hawaii Magazine, 2009

Specimen copy of the ballot used by Hawaiians in a June 27, 1959, plebiscite to approve conditions of statehood. Image from Hawaii Magazine, 2009

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.

Hawaiian and U.S. flags fly from the stern of a boat touring Hawaii. Are these flags displayed properly, under the U.S. flag code?

Hawaiian and U.S. flags fly from the stern of a boat touring Hawaii. Are these flags displayed properly, under the U.S. flag code?

More:

From Prologue, the blog of the National Archives: This petition, rolled onto a wooden spool, was signed by 116,000 supporters of Hawaii statehood and presented to the U.S. Senate on February 26, 1954. (RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate)

From Prologue, the blog of the National Archives: This petition, rolled onto a wooden spool, was signed by 116,000 supporters of Hawaii statehood and presented to the U.S. Senate on February 26, 1954. (RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate)

U.S. postage stamp issued in 2009 commemorating the 50th anniversary of Hawaii's admission to the union.

U.S. postage stamp issued in 2009 commemorating the 50th anniversary of Hawaii’s admission to the union.

English: August 21, 1959 7¢ Rose Hawaii Stateh...

Contrast the first class postage price above with the airmail postage price of this stamp issued in 1959 — August 21, 1959 7¢ Rose Hawaii Statehood C55 26432. Wikipedia image


Unintentional dry humor from CBO; don’t make a Denali out of a molehill, though

June 21, 2013

A mountain by any other name would be just as high. Image of Denali from Tiny Green Cabins

A mountain by any other name would be just as high. Image of Denali from Tiny Green Cabins

I get e-mail from the Congressional Budget Office.  I asked them to keep me posted on the studies they do, and they have.

Today, this:

S. 155, a Bill to Designate a Mountain in the State of Alaska as Denali

cost estimate

June 21, 2013
read complete document  (pdf, 27 kb)

As ordered reported by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on June 18, 2013.

CBO estimates that enacting this legislation to name a peak in Alaska would have no significant impact on the federal budget and would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. S. 155 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal governments.

Calling a mountain by its name won’t affect the budget?  Good news, I’m sure.  Shakespeare was right.

The testimony of National Park Service Deputy Director Peggy O’Dell is instructive:

STATEMENT OF PEGGY O’DELL, DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR OPERATIONS, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS OF THE SENATE ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE, CONCERNING S. 155, TO DESIGNATE A MOUNTAIN IN THE STATE OF ALASKA AS DENALI.

April 23, 2013

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s views on S. 155, a bill to designate a mountain in the State of Alaska as Denali.

The National Park Service appreciates the long history and public interest for both the name Mount McKinley and the traditional Athabascan name, Denali. The Department respects the choice made by this legislation, and does not object to S. 155.

Located in what is now Denali National Park and Preserve, the highest peak in North America has been known by many names. The National Park Service’s administrative history of the park notes that, “The Koyukon called it Deenaalee, the Lower Tanana named it Deenaadheet or Deennadhee, the Dena’ina called it Dghelay Ka’a, and at least six other Native groups had their own names for it.

“In the late 18th century various Europeans came calling, and virtually everyone who passed by was moved to comment on it. The Russians called it Bulshaia or Tenada, and though explorers from other nations were less specific, even the most hard-bitten adventurers were in awe of its height and majesty.

“No American gave it a name until Densmore’s Mountain appeared in the late 1880s, and the name that eventually stuck—Mount McKinley—was not applied until the waning days of the nineteenth century,” a gesture of support to then-President William McKinley.

In 1975, the State of Alaska officially recognized Denali as the name of the peak, and requested action by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names to do the same.

In 1980, Congress changed the name of Mount McKinley National Park to Denali National Park and Preserve (P.L. 96-487, Section 202), but did not act on the name change for the mountain.

In Washington, Congress designates mountains.  In Alaska, mountains designate you.

More:

Mount McKinley

Near-antique poster advertising Ranger Services at the National Park Formerly Known as Mount McKinley. Photo by Kirt Baab


Feynman: Last Journey of a Genius (NOVA, 1998)

May 12, 2013

Feynman and the famous C-clamp experiment -- in a glass of ice water -- at the Challenger Commission.

Feynman and the famous C-clamp experiment — in a glass of ice water — demonstrating how rubber O-rings failed in launch, at the Challenger Commission. (Why are there so few good photos of this event?)

Geography and history teachers, you should watch this on the day after Feynman Day.  Can you make use of this in your classes — say, after the state tests?

How about you physics and science teachers?

English: Green: Tuvan People's Republic

Tuvan People’s Republic, marked in green. Wikipedia image

In 1998 NOVA produced and broadcast a film that rather defies categorization.  Biography? Drama? Humor? Frustrated travelogue?

“Last Journey of a Genius” tells a lot of biography of Dick Feynman, but it focuses on his unusual drive to learn about, and travel to an obscure Central Asian country/province/area/culture called Tannu Tuva.  Feynman’s close friend Ralph Leighton plays a big role in this film, too.  This film reveals more about the character of Richard Feynman, his overwhelming curiosity and humanity, than you can get any other place, including his memoirs (which every civil human should read).

NOVA captivates me almost every week.  Good fortune found me in front of a television somewhere when this was first broadcast.  For several reasons, I’ve been unable to get a VHS, or a DVD version of the story despite many attempts over the years.

But fortune and good history smile again.  Open Culture collected the film, and it’s available for free in their documentary section.

Drumming, story telling, geography, Cold War politics, ballet, more drumming, some nuclear physics, astronomy, a lot of good humor, and a plea for orange juice.  It still makes me smile.

From Open Culture:

In 1989, PBS’ NOVA aired The Last Journey of a Genius, a television film that documents the final days of the great physicist Richard Feynman and his obsession with traveling to Tannu Tuva, a state outside of outer Mongolia, which then remained under Soviet control. For the better part of a decade, Feynman and his friend Ralph Leighton schemed to make their way to Tannu Tuva, but Cold War politics always frustrated their efforts. The video runs roughly 50 minutes and features an ailing Feynman talking about his wanderlust and their maneuverings. He died two weeks later, having never made the trip, though Ralph Leighton and Feyman’s daughter Michelle later landed in their Shangri-La. Her journey was recorded by the Russian service of the BBC.

The film now appears in the Documentary section of our collection of Free Movies Online.

via Metafilter

Related Content:

Richard Feynman’s Physics Lectures Online

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

Hang on to this link for Feynman Day 2014 (May 11).  What’s your favorite Feynman story?

This kind of history and science is exactly the sort of stuff CSCOPE critics in Texas, and critics of the Common Core standards, worry that children will see.  Very odd, because stuff this good is not even mentioned in CSCOPE, nor in CCSS.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Kenny Darrell, who found this film and let me know about it.

More:


Resources for World Malaria Day 2013

April 25, 2013

Not a word about condemning Rachel Carson.  No plea to use DDT to try to poison Africa or Asia to health.  That’s a great start.

More:

Mother and son under a protective bednet, the most efficient method to prevent malaria.  Columbia University MVSim image

Mother and son under a protective bednet, the most efficient method to prevent malaria. Columbia University MVSim image


Millard Fillmore’s links to March 8: Hurrah! and R.I.P.

March 8, 2013

I awoke from a particularly hard sleep after a night celebrating ten Cub Scouts’ earning their Arrow of Light awards and advancing into Boy Scout troops, to a missive from Carl Cannon (RealClear Politics) wondering why I’m asleep at the switch.

Millard Fillmore died on March 8, 1874, and he expected to see some note of that here at the Bathtub.  This blog is not the chronicler of all things Millard Fillmore, but can’t we at least get the major dates right?

Carl is right.  Alas, Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub is avocation, and at times like these an avocation that should be far down the list of avocations.

To mark the date, here is a post out of the past that notes two key events on March 8 that Fillmore had a hand in, the second being his death.  Work continues on several fronts, and more may splash out of the tub today, even about Fillmore.  Stay tuned.

Fillmore died on March 8, 1874; exactly 20 years earlier, Commodore Matthew C. Perry landed in Japan, in the process of what may be the greatest and most overlooked legacy of Millard Fillmore’s presidency, the opening of Japan to the world.  Here’s that post:

Commodore Matthew C. Perrys squadron in Japan, 1854 - CSSVirginia.org image

The Black Ships — Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s squadron in Japan, 1854 – CSSVirginia.org image from Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing Room Companion, Boston, May 15, 1852 (also, see BaxleyStamps.com); obviously the drawing was published prior to the expedition’s sailing.

On March 8, 1854, Commodore Matthew C. Perry landed for the second time in Japan, having been sent on a mission a year earlier by President Millard Fillmore.  On this trip, within 30 days he concluded a treaty with Japan which opened Japan to trade with the U.S. (the Convention of Kanagawa), and which began a cascade of events that opened Japan to trade with the world.

Commodore Matthew C. Perry in 1852 photograph, Library of Congress via WikiMedia

Commodore Matthew C. Perry in 1852 photograph, Library of Congress via WikiMedia

Within 50 years Japan would come to dominate the seas of the the Western Pacific, and would become a major world power.

1854 japanese woodblock print of U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew C. Perry. Peabody Museum: The characters located across the top read from right to left, A North American Figure and Portrait of Perry. According to the Peabody Essex Museum, this print may be one of the first depictions of westerners in Japanese art, and exaggerates Perrys western features (oblong face, down-turned eyes, bushy brown eyebrows, and large nose).  But compare with photo above, right.  Peabody Museum holding, image from Library of Congress via WikiMedia

1854 japanese woodblock print of U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew C. Perry. Peabody Museum: “The characters located across the top read from right to left, ‘A North American Figure’ and ‘Portrait of Perry.’ According to the Peabody Essex Museum, ‘this print may be one of the first depictions of westerners in Japanese art, and exaggerates Perry’s western features (oblong face, down-turned eyes, bushy brown eyebrows, and large nose).'” But compare with photo above, right. Peabody Museum holding, image from Library of Congress via WikiMedia

Then, 20 years later, on March 8, 1874, Millard Fillmore died in Buffalo, New York.

The Perry expedition to Japan was the most famous, and perhaps the greatest recognized achievement of Fillmore’s presidency.  Fillmore had started the U.S. on a course of imperialistic exploitation and exploration of the world, with other expeditions of much less success to Africa and South America, according to the story of his death in The New York Times.

The general policy of his Administration was wise and liberal, and he left the country at peace with all the world and enjoying a high degree of prosperity. His Administration was distinguished by the Lopez fillibustering expeditions to Cuba, which were discountenanced by the Government, and by several important expeditions to distant lands. The expedition to Japan under Commodore Perry resulted in a favorable treaty with that country, but that dispatched under Lieut. Lynch, in search of gold in the interior of Africa, failed of its object. Exploring expeditions were also sent to the Chinese seas, and to the Valley of the Amazon.

More:


Anybody got photos of Texas’s Big Lake with, you know, water in it?

February 15, 2013

Contrary to popular rural and redneck legend, Caddo Lake is not Texas’s only natural* lake.  There’s also Big Lake, near the town of Big Lake.

Problem being, of course, that Big Lake’s water sources these days generally don’t flow.  So Big Lake is often dry.

Which produces a further problem for site like Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:  If Big Lake is really a lake, why are there no photos of the lake with water in it?

A comment at AustinBassFishing.com got me thinking about this again, no photos of Big Lake as a Lake.  In the previous post here, we featured a photo of Big Lake Playa, sans water.  I searched the internet at the time and found no photos showing water in the lake.  My authority on Big Lake, Brad Wachsmann, swore that he had recently seen water in the thing (“recent” being “in the last decade or so”).

So, sorta good news:  A few photos of Big Lake, with water, plopped onto the internet since our last search.  Here are a couple from Panaramio:

Big Lake, Texas, with water in it.  Photo by doning

Water in Big Lake, near the city of Big Lake, Texas, laps at the State Highway 137 passing nearby. This photo comes from 2004, by doning.

Water in Big Lake, Texas, June 2005; photo by evansjohnc

Photo of water in Big Lake from June 2005. Photo by evansjohnc.  This photo appears to be about midway along the intersection of the lake with State Highway 137.

Big Lake, Texas, in dry phase, by cwoods

Big Lake in its dry phase, from looking north from the southern end of State Highway 137’s transection of the lake. Photo by cwoods.

Sign noting location of Big Lake, Texas, during dry phase. Photo by cwoods

Non-historic marker for Big Lake, also along State Highway 137, looking west. Photo by cwoods. Photo taken during Big Lake’s dry humor phase.

Now:  Can we track down the rumors of other natural lakes in TexasSabine Lake?  Green Lake?  Natural Dam Lake?

And, Dear Reader, can you find good photos of Big Lake with, you know, water in it?

_____________

* Is Caddo Lake a natural lake?  Originally, the lake seems to have been formed by an enormous blowdown of trees, probably during a hurricane, well over 400 years ago.  In that sense, it was a natural lake when European explorers first found it, and during all of Texas’s “six flags” historic periods.  Or, what is known as the Great Raft, a log jam, dammed up the Red River near the confluence of the Big Cypress Bayou, in about 1799.  By 1800, Caddo Lake was wet all year-round, and deep enough for shallow boat navigation.  In 1835, Capt. Henry Shreve blew up enough of the logjam that steamboat traffic could get past (the guy after whom Shreveport, Louisiana, is named).  After the Civil War, locals tried to expand boat traffic by completely removing the logjam.  Instead of making traffic easier, this removal led shrinking water levels in the lake, and it destroyed navigation farther up the Red River.  Several efforts to restore higher water levels achieved some success by about 1915.  When oil was discovered under the swamp, pressures came from oil companies to make drilling easier — travel in the mud was difficult.  After the invention of the Hughes drill bit (by Howard Hughes‘s father, the founder of Hughes Tool Co.) to allow drilling through water and mud into oil-bearing rock, a dam was built near where the logjam had been, to raise the level of what is known today as Caddo Lake.  What is seen today is a human-enhanced version of the Caddo Lake known by the Caddo Tribe.  This is all preface to the current Texas water wars.

More:


What’s in a name? A Texas town by any other name . . . (redux)

February 7, 2013

. . . would still be a Texas town.

(This is an encore post of a piece that is five years old, and borrowed from a kid who has since graduated from Texas schools on gone on to Princeton; see bottom for additional, updated information.)

But Texas towns have some of the best names of towns in the U.S. Plus, there are a lot of Texas towns, plus 254 Texas counties.

Freckles Cassie at Political Teen Tidbits has a great list:

texas-road-map-tripinfodotcom.gif

Need to be cheered up?

Happy, Texas 79042
Pep, Texas 79353
Smiley, Texas 78159
Paradise, Texas 76073
Rainbow, Texas 76077
Sweet Home, Texas 77987
Comfort, Texas 78013
Friendship, Texas 76530

Go see the entire list — and maybe add a few of your favorites in the comments. An ambitious geography teacher could make a couple of great exercises out of those lists. “What’s the shortest distance one would have to drive to visit Paris, Italy, Athens and Santa Fe? How many could you visit in the shortest time?”

Texas counties, all 254 of 'em, from Geography.com

Texas counties, all 254 of ’em, from Geography.com

More, and updated information:

Read the rest of this entry »


In 90 seconds, National Parks stuff you should see in Washington, D.C.

January 27, 2013

National Park Service video, and of course, featuring some stunning time-lapse photography.

696

 


Geography Awareness Week, November 11-17; Texas poster contest

September 20, 2012

Press release from the Texas Alliance for Geographic Education (TAGE):

This year’s Geography Awareness Week theme is Declare Your Interdependence! Geographers around the nation will celebrate our interconnectedness November 11-17, 2012!

To celebrate, TAGE is sponsoring the 25th Annual Poster Contest

How are you connected to the rest of the globe on a daily basis? What images demonstrate interdependence for you? This year’s posters should illustrate different forms and examples of interdependence. Focus on the physical and cultural processes that keep you connected around the globe, and how this shapes your daily life.

More information on the Poster Contest, including rules, registration, and resources at http://www.geo.txstate.edu/tage/geography-awareness-week.html
Poster Contest Registration: Deadline October 19; Posters due to the TAGE office by October 25

Information on National Geographic’s Geography Awareness Week, http://www.geographyawarenessweek.org

Please contact us if you have any questions, and feel free to share with us new resources or ideas that you may have. We will continue to add resources and links as we find them to help you demonstrate interdependence to your classroom.

Let’s make this the best poster contest yet!

Maggie Hutchins

Texas Alliance for Geographic Education
Department of Geography
Texas State University
601 University Drive
San Marcos, TX 78666
http://www.geo.txstate.edu/tage/
phone: (512) 245-3827
fax: (512) 245-1653

Related Articles and Resources:


Port Isaac, Cornwall: Depends on your point of view

August 5, 2012

What you see in this photo may depend on where you sit, or stand.

Aerial photo of Port Isaac, from Facebook, August 2012

Aerial photo of Port Isaac, Cornwall, from Facebook, August 2012; attributed to Wimp.com

It’s a photo of a town in Cornwall, England:  Port Isaac.  Lovely photo, showing the verdant hills around the town where grains grow in some abundance (the town’s name means “corn port,” suggesting a thriving grain trade a millennium ago), sheep or other animals graze, and showing the port from which fishermen sail to bring in bounty from the oceans.  The picturesque little town is popular among writers and other artists.  It’s historic and quaint streets make a popular backdrop for television and film production — the popular BBC series “Doc Martin” films there.

Since some internet “cool stuff” site (Wimp.com?  I can’t find it there) picked up the photo, it’s become popular around the internet and on Facebook.  Generally the identifiers for the town get stripped away as the ‘net is wont to do.  So conjecture pops up in comments:

English: Roscarrock Hill, Port Isaac The first...

Roscarrock Hill, Port Isaac The first house on the right is Fern Cottage, made famous as the house of Doc Martin, in the TV series of the same name. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Secret town, cut off from the rest of civilization?
  • Wasn’t that area once forested, and doesn’t the photo show the perils of deforestation for agricultural, or any other purposes? “Many moons ago before humanity it was beautifully covered with pristine forests full of life. It’s now a self-centred disaster brought by humanity…this pic is ugly !”
  • Isn’t it idyllic, and who wouldn’t want to live there?  “This looks like Cornwalls beautiful rocky edge of the world,I just love the area and holiday there most years,maybe one day i will have saved enough to retire there ,it is truly a stunningly wonderful place to be come rain or shine.”
  • If only there were no people there!  “our planet earth is still beautiful you just have to look at it from a distance.”
  • See how the town is sprawling into the pastures?  See the dangers of (small-town) urban sprawl?
  • London is prettier.
  • You should see Ireland/Wales/Norway!

Ugly or beautiful — opinions differ depending on what the poster thinks it is, and what the poster thinks s/he knows about the place.

Perhaps its really a shot of Rohrshach, Norway . . .

More:

Cornwall

Rohrshach?  Do you see the face?  (It’s actually Cornwall (Photo credit: joeflintham))


On the Road with Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub – Scott, Kansas

July 16, 2012

Little towns in Kansas look like neutron bomb test sites.  Especially on a Saturday afternoon, there are no people.  Many of the buildings look as though they haven’t been occupied since Dwight Eisenhower was president.

But there’s a cafe in Scott, Kansas, about the intersection of U.S 40 and U.S. 83, that looks like a new business in an old building, the Road Kill Grill.  It’s motto:

“Road Kill Grill:  For diners with discerning tastes.”

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

(Of course, that establishment is not the only place on Earth with a similar idea.)


Infographics creation by students, as a tool of learning

May 13, 2012

Infographic-a-Day describes this TEDx video (I added the links):

Perhaps one of the bigest and most listened to advocates of using infographics and data vis in the classroom is Diana Laufinberg, from The Science Leadership Academy. Diana, a History teacher, is a long time user of geographic information systems (GIS). She has recently, however, started helping her students to create their own infographics from complex issues that are part of her course of study and/or part of current events.

Here is a video of Diana’s talk at a recent TEDx…

Tip of the old scrub brush to David Warlick at 2¢ Worth.


Women to match our mountains: Women at Work, Parts 1 and 2

February 12, 2012

I do love the tops of mountains, and I wish I could climb them.  Fortunately, there are cameras, people who know how to use them, and people who know how to edit film to tell a story, and put us all in awe.

Plus, living among us are people brave enough and skilled enough to get to the tops of those mountains, people who make the filming possible and worthwhile.

“Women at Work” is a film of a climb by “the Cirque Ladies 2010,” described by Emily Stifler:

In summer 2010, Lorna Illingworth, Madaleine Sorkin and I spent 25 days in the Cirque of the Unclimbables, Northwest Territories, Canada. Our goal was to free climb the entire 1963 Original Route on the sheer 2000′ Southeast Face of Proboscis, and grants from the American Alpine Club encouraged us to document the adventure. The result: Women at Work (VI 5.12 R).

Cirque of the Unclimbables?  Okay, I’ll watch.

Part 1

Part 2

More: 

Half the fun is getting there:  Camp in shelters made by Mother Nature:

Camping under large boulder in Fairy Meadows, Cirque of the Unclimbables - SummitPost.org

Camping under large boulder in Fairy Meadows, Cirque of the Unclimbables - SummitPost.org - "Nice roof," one wag commented

Map of Cirque of the Unclimbables, from Nahanni.com

Map of Cirque of the Unclimbables, from Nahanni.com; those dots are not settlements

 

Map to Cirque of the Unbclimbables and area, from BlackFeather.com, a tour company

Map to Cirque of the Unbclimbables and area, from BlackFeather.com, a tour company

 


January 3, 1959: Welcome, Alaska, and the 49-star flag

January 3, 2012

Alaska Territorial Gov. Bob Bartlett in center, with the 49-star flag (Bartlett was one of Alaska's first U.S. senators).

Alaska Territorial Gov. Bob Bartlett in center, with the 49-star flag (Bartlett was one of Alaska’s first U.S. senators).

The great service at the New York Times site, the Learning Network, notes the 1959 Dwight Eisenhower proclamation of Alaska as the 49th state, and the unveiling of the 49-star flag:

On Jan. 3, 1959, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a proclamation admitting Alaska to the Union as the 49th state. The New York Times noted that the signing included the unveiling of the new 49-star American flag.

The land that became Alaska came into U.S. possession in 1867, when William Seward, secretary of state under President Andrew Johnson, negotiated a deal to buy the 586,000-square-mile area from Russia for $7.2 million, less than 2 cents per acre. Seward’s decision was ridiculed in the American press, who saw no potential in the vast, inhospitable and sparsely populated area.

For decades after its purchase, Alaska was derided as “Seward’s folly” or “Seward’s icebox.” This opinion changed in 1896 with the discovery of gold in the neighboring Yukon Territory, which spurred tens of thousands of people to head to Alaska in search of gold. The gold rush also brought about a boom in mining, fishing and trapping.

Though the first statehood bill had been presented to Congress in 1916, there was little desire in either Alaska or Washington for Alaskan statehood until after World War II. During the war, the U.S. established multiple military bases to resist Japan’s attacks on Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and prevent a potential invasion of the mainland. The military activity, along with the completion of a major highway from Montana, led to a large population growth.

In 1946, Alaskans voted in favor of statehood in a referendum and Alaskan delegates began to lobby Congress for statehood. After years of debate, Congress voted in June 1958 to admit Alaska.

Eight months after Alaska’s admission, on Aug. 21, 1957 [should be 1959, no?], Hawaii became the 50th state. The 49-star remained in place until the following July 4, when it was replaced by the now-familiar 50-star flag.

49-star flags were produced only until August 1959, so there are few of them around.  I love this photo of the unveiling of the flag with President Eisenhower:

President Eisenhower and Quartermaster General MG Andrew T. McNamara, with 49-star flag - image from QM foundation

“Quartermaster General MG Andrew T. McNamara and President Eisenhower examine new 49 star flag” – image and caption from the Quartermaster Foundation. (Who are the other two people?  The guy on the right looks to me a bit like is Pennsylvania’s Sen. Hugh Scott.)

It had been about 47 years since the previous state admission (Arizona); people became aware that no law set what the flag should look like.  President Eisenhower issued a directive.

How did the nation survive for 170 years without firm, decisive and conclusive orders on what the flag should look like?  Isn’t it a great story that we went so long without law setting the requirements?

Benny Benson's award-winning flag design for the State of Alaska

Alaska’s flag was designed by 13-year-old Benny Benson

Alaska’s state flag came from the imagination of a 13-year-old Aleut, Benny Benson, winning a contest to design the state’s flag.  Alaska’s flag stands out in any display of U.S. state flags.


Geographic literacy and logic become victims in Republican presidential campaign in Iowa

January 3, 2012

Rick Perry shooting at the coyote in the sky - Mad Mike's America

Rick Perry shooting at the coyote in the sky - Mad Mike's America

Sidney Crosby, Toronto Maple Leafs  - Business Insider

Sidney Crosby, Toronto Maple Leafs - Business Insider

_____________

I have it on good authority that Rick Perry will not be taking the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) Exit Level test for juniors this spring.  He’s probably not ready for it, according to this report in the New York Times.  It may be that no Republican in Iowa is ready for it, either.

Energy: The audiences at Mr. Perry’s events seemed somewhat unmoved by parts of his speech that talked about job creation. But when it came to energy and oil, they perked up.

“Every barrel of oil that comes out of those sands in Canada is a barrel of oil that we don’t have to buy from a foreign source,” Mr. Perry said in Clarinda, earning a loud round of enthusiastic applause.

Later, the audience reacted again to Mr. Perry’s assertion that buying so much energy from foreign countries is “not good policy, it’s not good politics and frankly it’s un-American.”

I wonder if it’s un-Canadian.

See also:


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