All posts by Mark Taylor

WELCOME TO FIRST SUNDAY OF AUTUMN

Autumn Landscape
Charles Rondeau (publicdomainpictures.net)

Summer is now gone and Autumn has officially begun here in the northern hemisphere. Summer is still throwing its hot breath though in many places. On Saturday it was a blazing 107 in Death Valley, CA while the low was 27 at Estcourt Station in Maine.  Be sure to click and read the article about that border town in Maine. Not unlike those who live in Point Roberts in Washington state but not as bad. The town is at the southern tip of the Tsawwassen peninsula, 25 miles south of Vancouver. While you can travel by air or ferry to Washington state, you have to cross an international boundary (twice) by car.  You have to cross into Canada and then enter the U.S. at Blaine, Washington (and then in reverse going back).

Already signs of the seasons are appearing in stores.  Halloween decorations are starting to appear along with boxes of costumes, food, and related items. Sadly because of Covid-19 restrictions, Halloween will be a less festive affair in many places. Halloween parties will be discouraged, trick or treat limited (probably people putting candy out on tables so you do not need to come to door). Candy makers are not expecting sales to be as high as last year. Expect them to say it means more candy for you! I guess many will have Zoom Halloween parties this year.

That means my old favorite, the Headless Horseman, will have fewer heads to stalk for.  Not to worry though, he probably will branch out to major cities where a lot of people are out on the streets protesting these days. Haunted Houses sadly will be limited in some areas but now will be virtual. Or parents might get creative and set up scary spots in their homes. Perhaps the old treat of roasted pumpkin seeds might make a come back. Trust me. The smell of pumpkin seeds roasting will make the kids want them.

Have a nice Sunday everyone.

 

BILL OF RIGHTS RATIFIED in 1789

Bill of Rights
Public Domain

On 25 September 1789, the first Congress approved 12 amendments to the U.S. Constitution sending them to the states for ratification. Under the Constitution, 2/3 of the states must approve before they can become legal. These amendments, often called the Bill of Rights, were designed to protect the basic rights of citizens that included freedom of speech, press, right to assemble, the free exercise of religion, limiting the government from unlawful entry into your home without a warrant, bearing arms, the right against self-incrimination in criminal trials and that you could not be tried for the same crime twice.

These amendments were influenced by the English Bill of Rights (1689) and by Virginia’s Declaration of Rights written by George Mason. As part of the original ratification of the Constitution, it was agreed that these would be the first amendments to be immediately adopted. These amendments were very important to the American colonists who had rebelled against England. They reflect the wrongs of the English government inflicted on its citizens and sought to make sure no U.S. government would ever do the same to its citizens. Mason and others were concerned that unless such limits were put into place, the temptation to misuse government would arise.

And history has largely proved this thinking correct. Unless you have a written constitution (not one that can be easily amended or changed as some parliamentary countries can do) the temptation to misuse government power can lead to tyranny being imposed. By limiting the powers of government, dividing it into separate branches, the U.S Constitution makes it impossible for one person to have all three powers: legislative, executive and judicial. The Bill of Rights ensures that citizens given basic freedoms that the government cannot take away.

Ten of the twelve amendments were ratified by December 1791. One was defeated and another went into limbo.

27th Amendment

“No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall have intervened.”

Originally proposed on 25 September 1789 as part of the original Bill of Rights. Since it did not pass the 2/3 requirement but had no expiration date, it sat in a form of constitutional limbo for 80 years then was ratified by Ohio. It then went back into limbo again until 1978 when Wyoming, angry at a Congressional pay hike, passed it but then again it went into limbo until the 1980’s.

Gregory Watson, who had noticed it was still alive as an undergraduate at Austin State University, took up the cause as an aide to a Texas legislator. From 1983-1992 other states, angry at Congress for their pay hikes, also ratified it. It was declared ratified on 7 May 1992. Many states would also post-ratify the amendment as well. Of all the amendments, it took the longest to get ratified at 74,003 days.

Sources:

REMEMBERING HISTORY:LEWIS & CLARK EXPEDITION

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
Public Domain (Wikipedia)

On 23 September 1806, and amid much public excitement, the expedition of William Clark and Meriweather Lewis returned to St. Louis, Missouri. They were the first to record an overland journey from the Mississippi River to the Pacific coast and back. They had set out two years ago and came back with a wealth of knowledge about the territory of the newly purchased Louisiana Purchase.

Under President Jefferson, the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory in 1803 for a price of 3 cents per acre for some 828,000 square miles of land. It is considered one of the best land deals ever. Jefferson commissioned the expedition of Lewis and Clarke to explore this territory and report back what they found. The expedition left in May 1804 with about four dozen men and equipment. Traveling up the Missouri River in six canoes and two longboats they would winter in Dakota before crossing into Montana where they saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time. They would meet the Shoshone Indians on the other side of the Continental Divide, who would sell them horses. The journeyed through the Bitterroot Mountains, down the rapids of the Clearwater and Snake rivers, until they reached the Columbia River and to the sea. They arrived at the Pacific Ocean on 8 November 1805 and were the first European explorers to do this overland from the east. The paused for the winter and then made their journey back to St. Louis in the spring.

The journals that were kept noted longitude and latitude with detailed notes on soil, climate, animals, plants, and native peoples. They identified new plants and animals (the grizzly bear for one). They also named geographic locations after themselves, loved ones, friends and even their dog. They experienced a variety of diseases and injuries during their journey but only one person perished. Their expedition is considered one of the most consequential and remarkable in U.S. history. Their travels in Oregon would lead the U.S. to able claim territorial rights later.

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Autumn Equinox Today

                                                                                  Solstices and Equinoxes
                                                                                         Image: NASA

For those who watch the calendar, today marks the official end of summer and the beginning of autumn with the equinox today. It begins today at 13:30 UTC (go here to see the time it begins in your area). There are two equinoxes in the year: March and September. When these equinoxes occur the sun is directly on the equator, and the length of day and night is almost equal. In the Northern hemisphere, the September Equinox heralds autumn while in the South it is the beginning of spring.

For those of us in the North, it means a transition from summer to winter.  During this period  days start getting shorter and nights longer. Depending on where you live, you will likely have moderate warm days followed by long and cooler nights. Harvests of many crops often take place during the fall and in the old days you would make preparations to store food for the winter. Harvest festivals are very popular and in particular Halloween. Pumpkins begin appearing along with all kinds of Halloween decor culminating, of course, in All Hallows Eve (Halloween) on October 31.

English Autumn George Hodan (publicdomainpictures.net)

SUNDAY TITANIC NEWS-DID AURORA BOREALIS CAUSE PROBLEMS FOR TITANIC?

Aurora Borealis by Frederic Edwin Church (1826–1900)
Public Domain (Wikipedia Commons)

The Daily Mail had an interesting report about a claim concerning the Northern Lights (aurora borealis). An independent weather researcher is arguing that the presence of the Northern Lights that night contributed in its demise. The compass would have been off by a degree and wireless communication would have affected  as well. It would make receiving them more difficult or not at all. It is certainly interesting and certainly adds something new to the events of that night.

Solar Flare May Have Contributed To The Sinking Of The Titanic By Throwing Off Compass Readings And Causing Radio Interference, Study Suggests (Daily Mail, 15 Sept 2020)

TODAY IS ROSH Hashanah

Shofar with inscription wishing Happy New Year
Alphonse Levy
Public Domain

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown today, at ends two days later on sundown. It is called Yom Teruah in the Bible and commands that “you shall observe a day of solemn rest, a memorial proclaimed with blast of trumpets, a holy convocation.” It is also the first of the Jewish High Holy Days specified in Leviticus 23. Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Jewish civil year.

It is marked by the sounding the shofar (an ancient musical horn made from a ram’s horn) and attending synagogue services and reciting a special liturgy. Festive meals are an important part of the two days with an emphasis on sweet foods on the second day to evoke a sweet new year. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, this year many synagogues have to separate readers of the 10 verses due to social distancing rules. And in many cases the services will be streamed online for those that cannot attend due to these same restrictions.

MONDAY TITANIC NEWS

[Please note that some news sites limit access to news articles and may require payment to review full article.]

March 6, 1912: Titanic (right) had to be moved out of the drydock so her sister Olympic (left), which had lost a propeller, could have it replaced.
Robert John Welch (1859-1936), official photographer for Harland & Wolff
Public domain

The Peterborough Family Who Left For A New Life But Died On The Titanic (Rugby Advertiser, 13 Sep 2020)

In April 1912 they left the UK on board the Titanic, to start a new life in Jacksonville, Florida, as pecan farmers. They had intended to sail to the USA on the Philadelphia, but were forced to change their plans due to a coal strike. After bidding their farewells to many well-wishers,the family travelled by train to Southampton and boarded the Titanic on 10 April 1912 as third-class passengers (ticket number 2343 which cost £69 and 11 shillings).

Public Domain

History Revisted: Father Byles, A Hero Of The Titanic From Ongar (Epping Forest Guardian, 12 Sept 2020)

The priest was praying on the upper deck when the ship struck an iceberg at 11.40pm. He assisted the women and children on their way to lifeboats, consoling them and twice refusing a place himself. When passengers got excited or anxious he would say: “Be calm, my good people.” Miss Helen Mary Mocklare, a third class passenger, gave an account of what she witnessed. She said: “A few around us became very excited and then it was that the priest again raised his hand and instantly they were calm once more.

Knocking off time at Harland & Wolff, Belfast. The Titanic is in the background.
Public Domain

Shipyard Worker’s Son Tells The Fond Stories He Heard From His Proud Dad (News Letter, 11 Sept 2020)

Dan shared some of his family’s remarkable links with shipbuilding on this page last Friday – his grandfather, father and five uncles all worked in the yard and his two aunts wedded shipyard men. Dan’s play about the H&W shipyard – The Boat Factory – has received substantial local, national and international acclaim. It was hailed as “a unique story” in Brussels, “the epitome of great storytelling” in New York and in Belfast it had “many in the audience reaching for a hanky.”

The Titanic Sinking’: The Story Behind The Telegram With Which The Belfast Telegraph Landed One Of History’s Greatest Scoops (Belfast Telegraph, 11 Sept 2020 -Payment required)

It’s one of the most famous ‘scoops’ but also perhaps the saddest in the 150-year history of the Belfast Telegraph… the story the newspaper would never have wanted to cover. For the exclusive that broke the news of the Titanic disaster in April 1912 was too painfully close to home for a city that had proudly built the doomed ocean liner and where virtually everyone knew someone with a link to the construction of the luxury White Star heavyweight.

Remembering 9/11/2001

he northeast face of Two World Trade Center (south tower) after being struck by plane in the south face.
September 11, 2001
Source: Robert (Flickr(

It was a day that changed America nineteen years ago today. Planes hijacked by terrorists flew into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center. Another plane would crash into the Pentagon. And a fourth plane that was destined for a target in Washington D.C. crash-landed into a field in Pennsylvania. The extreme heat caused by the fires from the impact of the planes would cause the collapse of the two towers.

Picture of the World Trade Center on 9/11 shortly after the WTC1 had collapsed.
September 11, 2001
Source: Wally Gobetz

Firefighters and police raced to the towers trying to rescue those trapped inside the burning buildings. Stories of their heroism in getting people out are extraordinary examples of courage that are both remarkable and breathtaking. Things were so dire at one point that some jumped out of windows to the shock of people watching. And when the buildings collapsed, many of these brave firefighters and police were killed. As the rubble was cleared later, every body of a fallen firefighter and police officer was removed with great care and respect.

Ground Zero, New York City, N.Y. (Sept. 17, 2001)
Source: U.S.Navy
Public Domain

More than 3,000 people were killed (including 400 police and firefighters). Over 10,000 were wounded during the attacks on 9/11. Some suffered long term effects due to smoke inhalation and toxic chemicals that were burning at the time. The attacks of 9/11 was the most devastating foreign attack on American soil since the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

We take time today to remember the fallen of 9/11. They went to work, got on planes, and did countless other things not knowing the evil that was about to take place. Countless lives were changed that day. Families were shattered with the loss of a husband or wife, beloved son or daughter. Friends were never seen again having perished in the towers, the Pentagon, or a passenger on the planes used as weapons.

We cannot forget those who perished on this day. And the heroic sacrifices of first responders- firefighters and police-who tried to save lives cannot be forgotten either.

We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died here—
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.

(Part of Pope Benedict XVI prayer from his visit to New York Ground Zero in 2008.)