Fly your flag on Valentine’s Day 2014? Okay in Oregon and Arizona

February 14, 2014

Some wag e-mailed to ask about flying the flag for Valentine’s Day.

Reverse of Oregon quarter

Oregon entered as the 33rd state in 1859 – this is the Oregon commemorative quarter-dollar coin.

Legally, nothing stops a resident from flying the U.S. flag following protocol on any day.  So the short answer is, yes, you may fly your U.S. flag on Valentine’s Day.

The Flag Code urges flying the flag on the day a state achieved statehood, too.

So for Oregon and Arizona, there is an expectation that residents will fly their flags.  Oregon came into the union on February 14, 1859; Arizona joined the Republic as a state in 1912.

Taft signs Arizona statehood papers, February 14, 1912

President William Howard Taft signed the papers accepting Arizona into statehood, on February 14, 1912. He still finished third behind Democrat Woodrow Wilson and Bullmoose Party’s Teddy Roosevelt in that fall’s elections. Photo found at Mrs. Convir’s page, Balboa Magnet School  (Can you identify others in the photo?  Who is the young man?)

For 2014, Oregon’s U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkeley posted an appropriate photo and meditation on Oregon at his Facebook site:

Jeff Merkley's caption:  Protected by President Teddy Roosevelt, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, formed in the caldera of Mount Mazama, a volcano that collapsed nearly 8000 years ago. It's a must-see for every Oregonian - and every American!

Jeff Merkley’s caption: Protected by President Teddy Roosevelt, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, formed in the caldera of Mount Mazama, a volcano that collapsed nearly 8000 years ago. It’s a must-see for every Oregonian – and every American!

More:

Some of this material was borrowed, with express permission, from last year’s post at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.


Annals of global warming: Arizona wildfires 2013 and “the new normal”

July 6, 2013

A burned home is seen in an unidentified neighborhood west of Highway 89 in Yarnell, Arizona July 3, 2013. Reuters

A burned home is seen in an unidentified neighborhood west of Highway 89 in Yarnell, Arizona July 3, 2013. Reuters, via International Business Times

From a much longer story you should read by Felicity Barringer and Kenneth Chang  in The New York Times, Tuesday, July 2, 2013, page A13 of the National Edition:

Since 1970, Arizona has warmed at a rate 0.72 degrees per decade, the fastest among the 50 states, based on an analysis of temperature data by Climate Central, an independent organization that researches and reports on climate. Even as the temperatures have leveled off in many places around the world in the past decade, the Southwest has continued to get hotter.

“The decade of 2001 to 2010 in Arizona was the hottest in both spring and the summer,” said Gregg Garfin, a professor of climate, natural resources and policy at the University of Arizona and the executive editor of a study examining the impact of climate change on the Southwest.

Warmer winters mean less snowfall. More of the winter precipitation falls as rain, which quickly flows away in streams instead of seeping deep underground.

The soils then dry out earlier and more quickly in May and June. “It’s the most arid time of year,” Dr. Garfin said. “It’s windy as well.”

The growing season also starts earlier, so there is more to burn.

“The fire season has lengthened substantially, by two months, over the last 30 years,” said Craig D. Allen, a research ecologist at the United States Geological Survey station at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.

The fire potential is exacerbated by the past policy, beginning around 1900, of putting out all fires. Fires are a natural way of clearing out the underbrush. With that natural rhythm disrupted, the flammable material piled up, so when it did catch fire, it ignited a giant fire that burned hotter and wider.

This total-suppression policy began to ease as early as the 1950s, when scientists began to see fire’s role in ecosystems. It was completely abandoned nearly two decades ago.

But in the 1970s, the Southwest entered a wet period, part of a climate cycle that repeats every 20 to 30 years. “That wet period helped keep a lid on fires,” Dr. Allen said. “And it also allowed the forests to fluff up.”

Since 1996, the climate pattern, known as the Pacific decadal oscillation, has swung to the dry end of the spectrum, and the region is caught in a long-term drought.

Stephen J. Pyne, one of the nation’s leading fire historians and a professor at Arizona State University, said, “How we live on the land, what we decide we put on public and private lands, how we do things and don’t do things on the land, changes its combustibility.”

In many landscapes, he added, “you’ve enhanced the natural combustibility” by building hundreds of thousands of homes in fire-prone areas, and for years suppressing natural fires, allowing a buildup of combustible materials like the “slash” debris left behind by logging.

The article explains how this is the dry phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation; so we can hope the wet phase will be wet enough to suppress fires.  However, the simple fact of additional effects brought on by PDO does not mean warming goes away when the PDO switches phases.  Note especially the lengthening fire season over three decades; incrementally, warming is making these well-known cycles, warmer, and too often, destructive or more destructive.

More: 

Sign welcoming visitors to Yarnell, Arizona:

Sign welcoming visitors to Yarnell, Arizona, with wildfire in the background: “Elevation 4,850 ft., ‘Where the desert breeze meets the mountain air.’” Sedonaeye.com image

 

English: Monthly values for the Pacific decada...

Monthly values for the Pacific decadal oscillation index, 1900 – 2010 Black line:121-month smooth Data source: http://jisao.washington.edu/pdo/PDO.latest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Fly your flag on Valentine’s Day? Okay in Oregon and Arizona

February 14, 2013

Some wag e-mailed to ask about flying the flag for Valentine’s Day.

Reverse of Oregon quarter

Oregon entered as the 33rd state in 1859 – this is the Oregon commemorative quarter-dollar coin.

Legally, nothing stops a resident from flying the U.S. flag following protocol on any day.  So the short answer is, yes, you may fly your U.S. flag on Valentine’s Day.

The Flag Code urges flying the flag on the day a state achieved statehood, too.

So for Oregon and Arizona, there is an expectation that residents will fly their flags.  Oregon came into the union on February 14, 1859; Arizona joined the Republic as a state in 1912.

Taft signs Arizona statehood papers, February 14, 1912

President William Howard Taft signed the papers accepting Arizona into statehood, on February 14, 1912. He still finished third behind Democrat Woodrow Wilson and Bullmoose Party’s Teddy Roosevelt in that fall’s elections. Photo found at Mrs. Convir’s page, Balboa Magnet School  (Can you identify others in the photo?  Who is the young man?)

More:

 

 


Timelapse tour of natural wonders of the Southwest U.S. – spectacular!

July 19, 2011

Here’s a video I would like to use as a a warm-up, or prompt to a study of American geography.

Evosia Photography, the hangout of Henry Jun Wah Lee, has a short but spectacular tour of several sites in the American Southwest deserts — Arizona, California, Utah, and Navajoland — timelapse movies, usually shot at night with starry backgrounds.

He has set the photography against the music of a band named Conjure One, an edited version of their recording “Manic Star.”

Certainly there is copyright, at least a Creative Commons license — you should attribute this film to Mr. Lee and the music to Conjure One.

Can you identify these sites?  Can your students?  Can they map out a plan to visit these sites as one exercise?  Can you and your students identify any of the constellations on view? (List of sites, from Mr. Lee, below the fold.)

Have you, or your students, ever visited any of those sites, and gazed at the stars?  Why not?

2,912 looks

Read the rest of this entry »


Nope: Lincoln didn’t say that

June 24, 2011

Delightful little feature at Arizona Central (azcentral.com), “AZ Fact Check ’11, Keeping Arizona honest” — Arizona Central is a feature of the Arizona Republic, as I recall (somebody correct me if I err).

I’ve noted before that Abraham Lincoln gets credit for a lot of things he didn’t say.  AZ Fact Check ’11 corrected an Arizona State Senator on attributing to Lincoln a quote against helping people do things they should be doing for themselves.  It’s another case of Twitter getting an elected official in trouble (not a lot of trouble, though, really).

The issue: Whether senator correctly quoted Lincoln

Who said it: Al Melvin, state senator

Arizona State Sen. Al Melvin, Dist 26

Arizona State Sen. Al Melvin, R-District 26

by Alia Beard Rau – June 22, 2011, 11:23 am

What we’re looking at
Sen. Al Melvin, R-Tucson, tweeted a quote that he credited to President Abraham Lincoln.

The comment
“Abe Lincoln: ‘You cannot help people permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.’ We need to learn from this.”

The forum
Posted on Melvin’s Twitter account June 21.

Analysis
Melvin on June 21 posted several quotes to his Twitter account relating to encouraging individuals to help themselves rather than giving them handouts. He attributed the quotes to Abraham Lincoln.

And Melvin isn’t alone. Others, including President Ronald Reagan, attributed these same quotes to Lincoln.

But according to several books, articles and the website Snopes that deals with debunking urban legends, Lincoln never said the quote.

Historian Arthur Schlesinger addressed the issue in a Washington Post column that ran Sept. 6, 1992.

“. . . in his Houston speech to the Republican National Convention, Ronald Reagan fell for one of the great hoaxes of American history, surpassed in taking people in only by H.L. Mencken`s enchanting fable about Millard Fillmore’s installing the first bathtub in the White House,” Schlesinger wrote. “The author of the less than immortal words Lincoln never said was an ex-clergyman from Erie, Pa., named William J.H. Boetcker.”

Boetcker in 1916 and 1917 produced two booklets based on lectures he gave. The quotes, including the one Melvin cites, are in those booklets.

According to Schlesinger, a conservative group in 1942 put out a leaflet titled “Lincoln on Limitation.” It listed legitimate Lincoln quotes on one side and legitimate Boetcker quotes on the other. Some versions attributed Boetcker’s quotes to Boetcker while others did not, leaving some readers to assume all were from Lincoln.

During the 1940s and 1950s, the quotes were mentioned or printed by increasingly legitimate sources and credited to Lincoln.

“Ever since, Lincoln scholars have been busy swatting the fake quotes down,” Schlesinger wrote. “In the 1960s, the Republican National Committee even warned its speakers, ‘Do not use them as Lincoln’s words!’ but to no avail.”

Bottom line: Historians appear to agree that Lincoln never said the quote that Melvin attributed to Lincoln. The quote was from William J.H. Boetcker.

Sources

They got me at that part where they listed sources with links. What a great little feature!

_____________

Nota bene:  I failed to see this notice at that site:  “Fact Check is a service of The Arizona Republic, 12 News and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. It is not affiliated with www.FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.”


Ben Quayle: Worst Congressional candidate in recent history

August 12, 2010

Dan Quayle’s son, Ben, has raised obnoxiousness and rudeness to new heights (that’s “rudity” or “rudiferousness” to Palinistas).

Quayle the Lesser is running for Congress in Arizona, the state where his family owned a huge interest in the state’s main newspaper, and the state where his father, Dan, said he learned all about California while spending time with family in Arizona growing up.  (Logic?  You wanted logic?)

And he’s put out this ad.

I’ll wager the ad gets more play on the internet than on television.

Sounds like Quayle is really, really desperate. Do the polls show him down that much? It’s a 10-way race for the Republican nomination, with the primary election on August 24.

Quayle has other embarrassments already in the campaign, including a campaign flyer that showed him playing with two little girls, when he was married just this past April (the girls turned out to be his nieces), and a connection to an off-color website regarding Scottsdale.

Years ago Esquire magazine named Sen. Bill Scott, R-Virginia, the “stupidest” senator on Capitol Hill.  Scott called a press conference to deny it.  The first question he was asked:  “If  you’re not the stupidest senator, who is?”

Even though his campaign website is a clear ripoff of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign site, Ben Quayle may have answered the question, “Who is the worst candidate for Congress this year?”

More (update):


What if we actually encouraged students to use technology?

February 12, 2010

This is the headline that roped me in, at The New York Times: “Wi-Fi Turns Rowdy Bus into Rolling Study Hall.”

And a short excerpt:

But on this chilly morning, as bus No. 92 rolls down a mountain highway just before dawn, high school students are quiet, typing on laptops.

Morning routines have been like this since the fall, when school officials mounted a mobile Internet router to bus No. 92’s sheet-metal frame, enabling students to surf the Web. The students call it the Internet Bus, and what began as a high-tech experiment has had an old-fashioned — and unexpected — result. Wi-Fi access has transformed what was often a boisterous bus ride into a rolling study hall, and behavioral problems have virtually disappeared.

What would your bus drivers say?

(File under “If you teach them, they will learn — and behavior problems will fade away.”)

Don’t miss the end of the article:

A ride through mountains on a drizzly afternoon can be unpredictable, even on the Internet Bus. Through the windows on the left, inky clouds suddenly parted above a ridge, revealing an arc of incandescent color.

“Dude, there’s a rainbow!” shouted Morghan Sonderer, a ninth grader.

A dozen students looked up from their laptops and cellphones, abandoning technology to stare in wonder at the eastern sky.

“It’s following us!” Morghan exclaimed.

“We’re being stalked by a rainbow!” Jerod said.

More:


Gambling to make government work, in Cave Creek, Arizona

June 17, 2009

It helps that it happened in a small Arizona town, in the desert, with a colorful name.  You cannot imagine such a thing happening in Yonkers, New York, nor in West Bend, Wisconsin.

A deadlocked election for the Cave Creek city council came down to a draw from a deck of cards, a poker deck carefully shuffled by a robed judge.

Cave Creek, Arizona, Judge George Preston, shuffles cards to breal a deadlock between Thomas McGuire, left, and Adam Trenk.  New York Times photo by Joshua Trent

Cave Creek, Arizona, Judge George Preston, shuffles cards to breal a deadlock between Thomas McGuire, left, and Adam Trenk. New York Times photo by Joshua Trent

We get the story from The New York Times:

Adam Trenk and Thomas McGuire, both in blue jeans and open-collar shirts, strode nervously into Town Hall with their posses. There stood the town judge. He selected a deck of cards from a Stetson hat and shuffled it — having removed the jokers — six times.

Mr. McGuire, 64, a retired science teacher and two-term incumbent on the Town Council, selected a card, the six of hearts, drawing approving oos and aws from his supporters.

Mr. Trenk, 25, a law student and newcomer to town, stepped forward. He lifted a card — a king of hearts — and the crowd roared. Cave Creek had finally selected its newest Council member.

“It’s a hell of a way to win — or lose — an election,” Mr. McGuire said. Still, it was only fitting, Mr. McGuire and others here said, that a town of 5,000 that prides itself on, and sometimes fights over, preserving its horse trails, ranches and other emblems of the Old West would cut cards to decide things. A transplant of 10 years from Yorktown Heights, N.Y., north of New York City, Mr. McGuire said he knew things were different here when not long after arriving he walked into a bar and found a horse inside.

Marshall Trimble, a cowboy singer, folklorist and community college professor who serves as Arizona’s official historian, said, “We are pretty tied to our roots here, at least we like to think so.”

Hans Zinnser, in the venerable Rats, Lice and History,  relates the story of an eastern European town where such ties are broken by lice — the two candidates put their beards on a table, and a louse is placed between the men.  The man whose beard the louse chooses is the winner.

Of course, this makes it difficult for women to participate in government fully.

Cave Creek is a typical cowboy, American town.  Deadlocks in government can be resolved by a game of chance.

Government teachers, history teachers, go get this story and clip it – it’s a good bell ringer, if not a full lesson in democratic republican government.

So, as the state’s Constitution allows, a game of chance was called to break the deadlock. The two candidates agreed on a card game (alternatives from the past have included rolling dice and, on rare occasions, gunfights).

Mr. Trimble said a cutting of the cards or roll of the dice had decided ties a handful of times in Arizona local elections. Tie-breakers have also been tried in other states, including in recent years in Alaska and Minnesota, said Paul Fidalgo, a spokesman for FairVote, a Washington group that monitors and advocates for fair elections.

Mr. Fidalgo said the group objected to random chance as the decider of election outcomes.

“Definitely not a democratic ideal, to say the least,” he said, suggesting, among other ideas, that the tied candidates engage in one more runoff.

That was ruled out here as too expensive, and besides, this was much more fun, as Mayor Vincent Francia made clear, clutching a microphone and serving as M.C.

“Originally we thought of settling this with a paintball fight but that involves skill, and skill is not allowed in this,” Mr. Francia said to laughter.

Did you ever think that the ability to shuffle a deck of cards would be a job skill for a judge?  There’s a reason law students play poker in the coffee lounge, and all weekend!

There’s more.  Go read the Times. This is also why the New York Times is a great paper, and why we cannot function without “mainstream media.”  Who else could have brought us the story?

More resources:


Atomic history, nuclear future

October 19, 2008

We’re going to see more nuclear power plants in the U.S., it’s a safe bet.  Both presidential candidates support developing alternatives to oil and coal.  Nuclear power is one of the alternatives.

John McCain kept repeating his comfort words, that ‘storage of wastes is not a problem.’ There is not a lot of evidence to support his claims.  With turmoil in financial markets, however, the nuclear power issue has gotten very little serious attention or scrutiny.  From the push to get compensation for radiation victims of atomic weapons and development in the U.S., I learned that the issue is not really whether wastes and other materials can be safely used and wastes stored. The issues are entirely issues of will.

Advantage to Obama, I think.  He’s not claiming that the storage problems are all solved.  A clear recognition of reality is good to have in a president.

Son Kenny sent a link to a history site, Damn Interesting, and it tells the story of the Techa River in the old Soviet Union — a place condemned for generations by the nuclear excesses of the past.

To make the story briefer, in their rush to produce nuclear weapons, the Soviets did nothing to protect Russia from radioactive waste products until it was much too late.  Efforts to reduce radioactive emissions, by storing them in huge underwater containers, resulted in massive explosions that released more radiation than Chernobyl (What?  You hadn’t heard of that, either?).

It’s a reminder that safety and security with peaceful uses of nuclear power depend on humans doing their part, and thinking through the problems before they arise.

Can we deal with radioactive wastes?  We probably have the technology.  Do we have the will? Ask yourself:  How many years has the U.S. studied Yuccan Mountain to make a case to convince Nevadans to handle the waste?  How many more decades will it take?

How is our history of dealing with nuclear contamination issues?  Not good.

Last spring SMU’s history department sponsored a colloquium on a power generation in the southwest, specifically with regard to coal and uranium mining on the Navajo Reservation.   We’ve been there before.

One of the photos used in one of the lectures, by Colleen O’Neill of Utah State, showed two Navajo miners outside a uranium mine during a previous uranium boom.  Neither one had a lick of protective equipment.  Underground uranium mining exposes miners to heave concentrations of radon gas, and if a miner is unprotected by breathing filters at least, there is a nearly 100% chance the miner will get fatal lung cancers.

Of the 150 Navajo uranium miners who worked at the uranium mine in Shiprock, New Mexico until 1970, 133 died of lung cancer or various forms of fibrosis by 1980 ([Ali, 2003] ).

Our Senate hearings on radiation compensation, in the 1970s, produced dozens of pages of testimony that Atomic Energy Commission officials understood the dangers, but did nothing to protect Navajo miners (or other miners, either).  It is unlikely that anyone depicted in those photos is alive today.

AP Photo  (borrowed from ehponline.org)

"Mine memory - Navajo miners work the Kerr-McGee uranium mine, 7 May 1953. Today, uranium from unremediated abandoned mines contaminates nearby water supplies. image: AP Photo" (borrowed from ehponline.org) This photo is very close to the one used by Prof. O'Neill. It may have been taken at nearly the same time. If you know of any survivors from this photo, please advise.

At a refining facility on the Navajo Reservation, highly radioactive wastewater was stored behind an inadequate earthen dam.  The dam broke, and the wastes flowed through a town and into local rivers.  Contamination was extensive.

Attempts to collect for the injuries to Navajo miners and their families were thrown out of court in 1980, on the grounds that the injuries were covered under workers compensation rules (where injury compensation was also denied, generally).

Navajos organized to protest the power plant. One wonders whether they can win it.

Sen. McCain seems cock sure that radioactive wastes won’t kill thousands of Americans in the future as they have in the past.  The uranium mining and uranium tailings issues occurred in Arizona, the state McCain represents.  Does he know?

We regard ourselves in the U.S. as generally morally superior to “those godless communists.”  Can we demonstrate moral superiority with regard to development of peacetime nuclear power, taking rational steps to protect citizens and others, and rationally, quickly and fairly compensating anyone who is injured?

That hasn’t happened yet.

When [uranium] mining [on the Navajo Reservation] ceased in the late 1970′s, mining companies walked away from the mines without sealing the tunnel openings, filling the gaping pits, sometimes hundreds of feet deep, or removing the piles of radioactive uranium ore and mine waste. Over 1,000 of these unsealed tunnels, unsealed pits and radioactive waste piles still remain on the Navajo reservation today, with Navajo families living within a hundred feet of the mine sites. The Navajo graze their livestock here, and have used radioactive mine tailings to build their homes. Navajo children play in the mines, and uranium mine tailings have turned up in school playgrounds (103rd Congress, 1994 ).

Think of the story of Techa River as a warning.

Resources:


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