Trump is most like Millard Fillmore? Perhaps in his failures . . .

July 5, 2018

One story says Queen Victoria commented that Millard Fillmore was the handsomest man she'd ever met; true or not, imposing Trump's face on Fillmore doesn't improve anything. Illustration from BBC

One story says Queen Victoria commented that Millard Fillmore was the handsomest man she’d ever met; true or not, imposing Trump’s face on Fillmore doesn’t improve anything. Illustration from BBC

Millard Fillmore was a self-educated man, an ardent reader, the founder of the White House library.

Millard Fillmore understood the strategic geography of Japan, an opened Japan up to the world.

Has Trump done anything beneficial? Logical? Based on good, accurate information?

We may have a bone to pick with BBC.

BBC’s article, by Jude Sheerin from the Washington bureau, actually is quite well done. The article compares the nativism in Fillmore’s time, to which Fillmore fell victim, with Trump’s nativism — and the comparison is troubling.

In the end, the Whigs refused to nominate Fillmore to run for his own term in 1852 (he had succeeded President Zachary Taylor on Taylor’s death, remember); Fillmore was courted by the American Party, better known to school kids as the Know-Nothings. Fillmore led the Know-Nothings to a crushing defeat in 1852 (they did get Maryland), but the Whigs never recovered either. In 1856, partly in the ashes of the Whigs, rose the Republican Party to run John C. Fremont for President.

And in 1860, the new Republican Party managed to knock a homerun, getting Abraham Lincoln elected to the presidency on the party’s second try.

“What is past is prologue,” the wall of the National Archives tells us, and Santayana warns that those who do not remember history will repeat it. What lessons can we learn from comparing Donald Trump to Millard Fillmore?

Other than the fact that Fillmore was actually quite a bit better looking, that is.

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Deer in a lake, Oregon — stunning photo, a fake

April 15, 2018

From @BestEarthPix on Twitter:

It's a mule deer, in a lake. Which lake? Who was the lucky/skilled photographer? No details.

Frustratingly, the only information from @BestEarthPix is “Oregon, USA.” It’s a mule deer, in a lake. Which lake? Who was the lucky/skilled photographer? No details.

Can you supply details? The photographer should get credit, I think.

Update: This site, 500px, attributes the photo to Stijn Dijkstra. But Amazon.com/UK leads me to believe this is a sunrise at Yellowstone Lake, with a deer’s profile PhotoShopped in. See “Sunrise at Yellowstone Journal” and this photo.

From "Sunrise at Yellowstone Lake Journal," available from Amazon.com/UK

From “Sunrise at Yellowstone Lake Journal,” available from Amazon.com/UK

Further update: It’s a stock photo from Alamy, PhotoShopped.

The Flat Mountain arm of Yellowstone Lake at sunrise, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, 2016. Image courtesy Neal Herbert/Yellowstone National Park. Gado Images/Alamy Stock Photo

How disappointing, and maddening, that what looks like a great image turns out to be faked.


Best show on God’s Earth, free!

January 13, 2018

Tourists in Arches National Park, in Utah. Arches is one of five National Parks in Utah.

Tourists in Arches National Park. Arches is one of five National Parks in Utah.

Utah.com lists the days in the coming year when entry to National Parks is free. Utah.com is a promotional site for Utah, where several National Parks are big tourist draws — so they have a bias.

It’s a good bias!

Alas, only four days so far:

FREE National Park Entrance Days 2018

January 15: Martin Luther King Jr. Day

April 1: First day of National Parks Week

September 22: National Public Lands Day

November 11: Veterans Day weekend

Four free days to  split among five National Parks in Utah: Arches, Canyonlands, Zion Canyon, Bryce Canyon, and Capitol Reef. National Monuments are probably included in the free admission days, so you can add Timpanogos Cave, Rainbow Bridge, Dinosaur, Promontory Point and others.

There’s a lot to see in Utah’s mountains and redrock country — and that doesn’t include the Great Salt Lake and the Salt Flats.


Typewriter of the moment: Milan Karanovic, Bosnian ethnographer

February 22, 2017

Ethnographer? It’s a person who makes a systematic study of a people and its culture, a subdivision of anthropology, sociology, history and geography all at once.

Milan Karanovic, trained as a priest, studied folk and cultural trends of Bosnians, roughly from 1900 to World War II.

And this is his typewriter:

Typewriter of Bosnian ethnographer Milan Karanovic. Typewriter on display in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Halabi.

Typewriter of Bosnian ethnographer Milan Karanovic. Take careful note of special keys to accommodate Bosnian spellings. Typewriter on display in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Halabi.

https://scontent-dft4-2.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/16831126_10154115871286786_8680636113852292827_n.jpg?oh=56fb52bcbacf7ec0d79d86e77627b1cf&oe=593C8490

Photo of Milan Karanovich, National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Zivot i rad” translates to “life and work.” Image by Jonathan Halabi.

Milan Karanovic was born in 1883 in Great Novljansko Rujiška. In his teens he moved to Sarajevo, graduated high school and attended seminary, graduating by 1909 and assuming duties as a parish priest (Orthodox?) in the Krajina region village of Rujnić. We know he published a study of the “village” of Sarajevo in 1907. On the wrong side of local authorities in World War I, he spent much of the war in prison. His publications resumed by 1925, and proliferated through 1937. He died in 1955.

The typewriter is an Optima Elite. I’m guessing this model was made during or after World War II; Optima used the Olympia name into World War II. After the war, Olympia factories in the zones controlled by the Soviet Union changed to Optima. Judging from photos, this machine may have been built in the 1950s, giving Karanovic only a few years to use it. I’m open to the idea that the Optima name was used earlier — this history of corporations and machines is out of my range. If you have better information, please feel free to contribute in comments.

 

 


Annals of Global Warming: Mexican plums blooming early in Dallas

February 17, 2017

Spring comes a few hours earlier every year as the planet warms; plants that used to blossom in March and April, now blossom in February. Mexican plum blossoms in Dallas, Texas, February 17, 2017. Photo by Ed Darrell, please share with attribution

Spring comes a few hours earlier every year as the planet warms; plants that used to blossom in March and April, now blossom in February. Mexican plum blossoms in Dallas, Texas, February 17, 2017. Photo by Ed Darrell, iPhone 6; please share with attribution.

Spring comes earlier every year in Dallas. Our Mexican plums used to blossom in March and April; for the past three years, we’ve had blossoms well before spring even comes. Last year we had a cold snap that took the young fruit out, after a premature blossoming.

It’s a sign of creeping global warming. Every year I marvel at Al Gore’s powers to convince our Mexican plum to blossom early, part of the “global warming conspiracy” so many fear.

That is, this is a symptom of global warming that cannot be faked, that is from observation, and not from models.

With flowers on fruit trees come hopes of a bountiful harvest. Dreading the underlying meaning of such an early blossom does not change our hopes, nor the birds’ hopes, for a good plum harvest.

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Lunar fogbow? Beautiful, whatever you call it

January 10, 2017

I follow Phil Plait to get smart and stay informed about the stars and the universe.

Sometimes it’s just the sheer beauty one finds that wakes you up.

Phil posted this on Twitter, a lunar fogbow:

From Twitter, Phil Plait: Göran Strand (@astrofotografen) captured a VERY rare sight: a lunar fogbow! http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2016/12/26/g_ran_strand_photo_of_a_very_rare_lunar_fogbow.html …

From Twitter, Phil Plait: Göran Strand (@astrofotografen) captured a VERY rare sight: a lunar fogbow! http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2016/12/26/g_ran_strand_photo_of_a_very_rare_lunar_fogbow.html

Plait’s explanations are fun:

Göran Strand is an amazing astrophotographer whose work I’ve highlighted here many times. He has an astonishing skill in making beautiful photographs out of rare and bizarre phenomena.

It’s not just a beautiful photograph. It’s a rather rare phenomenon beautifully captured by Göran Strand, and wonderfully explained by Plait at his blog at Slate:

And here he is once again: That photo above shows that’s quite uncommon sigh: a fogbow! But this being Strand, even that’s not unusual enough. For him, it had to be even more difficult to track down. That’s not just a fogbow, it’s a lunar fogbow!

Fogbows are similar to rainbows, in that they’re caused by water droplets, but in detail they’re very different. In a rainbow, sunlight is bent and reflected inside a raindrop, and sent off at an angle. The drops are big compared to the wavelength of light, so they act a bit like mirrors. Each color of sunlight, though, bends at a slightly different angle, separating them, creating the multihued rainbow.

Plait’s got more good science explanation. Go see.

Strand has photos to sell in various formats. I see in a lot of offices, “inspirational” posters with good photos and occasionally-pithy-but-often-banal sayings and platitudes, hoped by bosses to spur productivity on the cheap. Order up a sizable print from Strand, get the full description of the photo, and mount it in your office instead. You’re likely to discover than genuine natural beauty from awe-inspiring photos spurs creativity and productivity more than the stock photos and stock sayings.

Those photos are starting points for learning, too, teachers. Real photos, worthy of any history, economics, geography, astronomy, chemistry, physics, geological science or environmental science class.

Try ’em and see.

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

January 3, 2017

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. Photo by Bob Schutz, Associated Press (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 U.S. flag should look like?  Isn’t it a great story that we went so long without law setting the requirements?

Alaska's state flag design came from 13-year old Benny Benson.

Alaska’s state flag design came from 13-year old Benny Benson. Benny Benson holding the Alaska flag at the Jesse Lee Home, Seward, Alaska. ASL-P01-1921, Alaska State Library-Historical Collections.

 

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.

Alaska's flag as it was approved by the state legislature, and still flies today. Image from the Ninilchik Natives Association, Inc (NNAI).

Alaska’s flag as it was approved by the state legislature, and still flies today. Image from the Ninilchik Natives Association, Inc (NNAI).

 

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

Yes, this is mostly an encore post. Fighting ignorance requires patience.

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