Tag Archives: history

IndependenceDay

Happy Fourth of July!

Long-time readers will recognize this piece from a few years back. I apologize for my absence here; some health challenges remain, and there are other issues to contend with as well. But I do not think I am done yet.

The Independence Journey

Tomorrow I travel
Across this great land
And try to unravel
How all this began

I look to the mountains
And gaze at the sea
Are these where the fountains
Of freedom might be?

The fields full of crops
The deep sylvan glade
The bustling shops
Where the future is made

The skyscrapers soaring
The bridges, the ships
The Space Shuttles roaring
On million-mile trips

But harvest, invention,
Our tools and our crafts
Are not the intention
Contained in those drafts…

“United States” seems
Like a common phrase now
But once it was dreams
Born from deep thinking brow

As the Founders grew weary
Of rough distant rule
And taxes and tariffs
Provided the fuel…

Independence declared!
Hear the bell as it rings!
That proud history shared
Isn’t based on mere “things”

The new nation caught
And flamed bright in their hearts
And though doubters still thought
That such disparate parts

Could never be coached
Or formed into one
Still ideas, once they’re broached
Sometimes see the job done

Through blood and through sweat
And through fear, war and strife
They struggled, and yet
Freedom loved, more than life

So they crafted a code
That gave people a voice
That gave promise to all
And the world, a new choice

By the people’s consent
A Republic was born
And with blood sorely spent
Broke the shackles we’d worn

Then we prospered and grew
In this fair rugged land
And to build straight and true
All the folks lent a hand

The foundation they laid
Is a strong, steady place
And the price that they paid
Gave us strength, hope, and grace

And still our Constitution
Guides the Land of the Free
And provides the solution
That made all of this be

And at last I can see
How our strength came about
Founders fought to be free
With hearts noble and stout

And they carried the day
And they brought it to us!
And we now, in our way
Undertake this great trust

For Americans make
Our America great
So I’ll pause and I’ll take
One more moment to state:

My dear friends reading here
Don’t forget where you are
We’ll defeat hate and fear
And we yet will go far

We each have work to do
(Not just do, but know why)
Now, to each one of you
Happy Fourth of July!

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

450px-Judy_Garland_John_Hodiak_The_Harvey_Girls

Old hands

I am older than most folks. I got into computers relatively early, and was making my living from computers full-time by the mid-1970s. While I am not big on social media per se, I did get involved with LiveJournal early on, and was one of its first lifetime paid users as it was rocketing into popularity (before MySpace and FaceBook and Twitter). So this recent XKCD strip was a bit poignant: Continue reading

MawsonNewYear

Happy New Year!

In Antarctica, there is a place along the frigid coast called Mawson Station. It is named for Sir Douglas Mawson, an Engligh-born Australian explorer who was one of the early Heroic Explorers of Antarctica. His story is quite interesting, especially his survival during one grim trip where things went south, so to speak. There is a bit of info on that in the Wikipedia article, and the story is the subject of the book Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Story in the History of Exploration. Continue reading

economy

The Failure of Mutually Assured Destruction

For decades, the Soviet Union and the United States held each other at bay in an uneasy stalemate. It was an active, “hot” war despite the “cold war” moniker, and each side lose thousands of troops. But it never broke into a nuclear conflagration, because each side realized the destruction that would come from it. And that once begun, it could not be undone. The Soviet and American leaders were, in a sense, much alike. Neither side would risk it, though both got very good at the brinkmanship involved.

This concept does not work at all if one side are suicide bombers. They plan to die; it’s merely a question of doing the most damage on the way out.

Continue reading

the-food-for-thought-award

Sunday Verse 6: Two Worlds

Another post in the Food for Thought series, triggered by this nomination from Citizen Tom.

One rather famous verse in the synoptic Gospels (such as in Matthew 21) includes this line: “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”

The same chapter contains many other recognizable phrases, and it has long intrigued me how many different Biblical expressions have made it to English conversational or literary use.  For example, in this chapter are found the expression “Many are called, but few are chosen” and “Show me the money!”  (often translated as “show me the tribute money” or “show the the tribute coin”). Continue reading

bertrand_russell

Denoting Bertrand Russell, “Red Emma” Goldman, Thomas Jefferson

(This wound up being something of a scattered ramble on different philosophers in history.) I mentioned recently Ayn Rand’s definition of selfishness, as “concerned with one’s own interests.”  It’s straightforward enough. In the ensuing discussion, I described this as less opaque than some of the definitions of Bertrand Russell.  (I had  miswritten his first name as “Bertram”; my apologies.)

I don’t have his works online (edit: found a collection), though some parts of this no doubt exist. Here’s a nice example, from his treatise on Denoting I read last year:

Thus `the father of Charles II was executed‘ becomes: `It is not always false of x that x begat Charles II and that x was executed and that “if y begat Charles II, y is identical with x” is always true of y‘.

This may seem a somewhat incredible interpretation; but I am not at present giving reasons, I am merely stating the theory.

Continue reading

Sunday Verse 4: Presidential Musings

This is the fourth in a series of Sunday posts related to the Food for Thought award from Citizen Tom:

The Food for Thought posts

 

Matthew 12 is telling part of the story of Jesus, and two aspects of this chapter struck me.  First, it has been the source of a number of statements that are commonly associated with US presidents, and second that it also contains a reference applicable to our current one. Continue reading

Expecting Different Results

Barack Obama claims that he was prevented from solving the economic crisis be the fact that he was opposed in Congress.

Congress was, of course, run by Democrats in the Senate, and Democrats in the House, for Obama’s first two years.  And yes, they did not vote to pass a budget — at one point, Obama’s offered budget proposal got exactly zero votes from Democrats. Continue reading

hurricane-sandy-iss-flyover

Extreme Weather Reporting

Sandy damaged the Northeast, but was not “unprecedented”

Sandy was a very damaging storm, with widespread winds and rain afflicting a large area seemingly unprepared to deal with it.  It was modest from a historical standpoint: there have been many larger hurricanes that have hit the US east coast and New England specifically, with larger storm surges, greater rain, more damage, many times more lives lost. The 1994 “Great Atlantic Hurricane” was a Category 3 at landfall (Sandy was barely a 1) and its impact was described this way (regarding the Jersey Shore): Continue reading