Manhattanhenge, Part 2

July 13, 2012

I could be persuaded Instagram may have some value:

Manhattanhenge, July 12, 2012 - photo by Henry Sene Yee

Manhattanhenge, July 12, 2012 – photo by Henry Sene Yee

Even a bigger hit the second day in July (it also occurs two days in May).

But can this be accurate?

As the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson put it on the Hayden Planetarium website, “Manhattanhenge may just be a unique urban phenomenon in the world, if not the universe.”

Surely there is a phenomenon almost as cool, somewhere in the American Midwest or Mountain West, perhaps, where the good Presbyterian, Lutheran and Mormon pioneers laid out their cities and entire states with clean Cartesian grids . . . anyone got information to correct Dr. Tyson?

Maybe the question to ask, perhaps from Tyson, is how to calculate when an east-west street in your town might get a “henge” moment.

For example, how about a special sunrise at Delicate Arch, in Arches National Park?  Or at Newgrange, Ireland?

Sunrise at Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, by Alex Savage

Sunrise at Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, by Alex Savage

Solstice sunrise at Newgrange, Ireland - Photograph by Cyril Byrne - courtesy of The Irish Times

December 20, 2009, solstice sunrise at Newgrange, Ireland – Photograph by Cyril Byrne – courtesy of The Irish Times (Astronomy Picture of the Day, NASA)


July 12, 1855 – Liberty proposed for U.S. Capitol

July 13, 2012

Liberty statue, atop U.S. Capitol - Library of Congress photo

On top of the Capitol Dome, the Statue of Freedom faces east away from the National Mall and the White House. Image courtesy of Library of Congress

History from the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives:

The Statue of Freedom

July 12, 1855

Statue of Freedom

Statue of Freedom (Liberty) which appears atop the U.S. Capitol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On this date, Architect of the Capitol, Montgomery C. Meigs received the conceptual drawings from Thomas Crawford, an American neoclassical artist, for the Statue of Freedom.  The statue was to be the crown jewel of the dome atop the Capitol Rotunda.  The first sketch of the statue featured a woman with a liberty cap. When Secretary of War Jefferson Davis objected to the allegorical allusion to a freed Roman slave, the artist revised the drawing to feature a statue with a helmet.  Although construction on the dome began in 1856, the dome and its final accouterments were not in place until December 2, 1863. Freedom’s story contains an ironic twist; a slave named Philip Reid played an integral part in placing Freedom atop the dome.  A contract dispute threatened to halt the project’s progress until Reid determined how to complete the complicated casting of the statue.  As a result, he oversaw the remainder of the its construction.  To commemorate the completion of the statue and its crowning of the dome, officials organized a dramatic ceremony with a 35-gun military salute echoed by salutes from the 12 forts ringing the federal city.

The dome of the US Capitol building. Français ...

The dome of the US Capitol building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


British Airways: Crazy-like-a-fox patriotism in advertising

July 13, 2012

This television advertisement is circulating among airline and travel folk:

Why would British Airways make an ad that encourages Britons to stay at home during the Olympics?

Join the conversation and see the plane on your own street at http://www.facebook.com/britishairways #HomeAdvantage

This summer, the greatest sports event on Earth comes to London. And our best sportsmen and women have a once in a lifetime opportunity, to compete at the highest level with the whole country behind them. That’s why we’re asking the nation to join together, to give our athletes the greatest home advantage we can give them. It could be the difference in seconds and millimetres, turning silver into gold. This summer, there’s nowhere else in the world to be.

Even more analysis:

Millard Fillmore traveled to London after his presidency.  One story claims that, upon meeting Fillmore, Queen Victoria proclaimed him “the handsomest man” she had ever met.

After the death of his daughter Mary, Fillmore went abroad. While touring Europe in 1855, Fillmore was offered an honorary Doctor of Civil Law (D.C.L.) degree by the University of Oxford. Fillmore turned down the honor, explaining that he had neither the “literary nor scientific attainment” to justify the degree.[22] He is also quoted as having explained that he “lacked the benefit of a classical education” and could not, therefore, understand the Latin text of the diploma, adding that he believed “no man should accept a degree he cannot read.”[9]

Tip of the small, folding travel scrub brush to Gil Brassard, believe it or not.

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