Archive for the ‘movies’ Category

Alfalfa is Dead, Not Alice Cooper
January 21, 2010

What happened to Alfalfa?

Alice Cooper Is Not Beaver, Mr. Green Jeans or Alfalfa; Just Vincent Damon Furnier

On This Date in History:  When I was growing up,  there were all sorts of rumors about what had happened to child stars.  A big one went that Alice Cooper was really Eddie Haskell from Leave it to Beaver.  Truth was, at the time,  actor Ken Osmond was a cop in Los Angeles.  He has since showed up again portraying Eddie Haskell as an adult.  Another one said that Beaver Cleaver was killed in Viet Nam.  Truth was that actor Jerry Mathers was alive and well and he too has reprised his role as Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver several times. I had been told that Mr. Green Jeans was really Alice Cooper.  An offshoot of that was that Frank Zappa was the son of Mr. Green Jeans.  Then there was Alfalfa from Our Gang aka The Little Rascals.  I heard he had died of a herion overdose or that he was really Alice Cooper.  At least part of the Alfalfa rumor was true and was part of a series of misfortunes that came upon many of the Our Gang/Little Rascals  actors.  Some say it’s a curse.  

Alfalfa the Crooner

Carl Switzer was born in Paris, Illinois on August 27, 1927.  Hal Roach was producing the successful Our Gang movie shorts when in 1935, Switzer was added to the cast as Alfalfa.  His appearance made him easily distinguishable to audiences.  He was a tall skinny kid with freckles and a distinctive cowlick that pointed skyward consistently regardless of how much he tried to slick his hair.  He also had an interesting singing voice that only added to the comedy.  In an episode called The Pitch Singer, Alfalfa famously crooned off-key the tune I’m in the Mood For Love. 

Carl Alfalfa Switzer as Ensign Keim in 1954's The High and The Mighty Starring John Wayne

Kids grow up and times move on.  In 1940, the Our Gang series ended but it later returned to television under the title The Little Rascals.  Switzer tried odd jobs after Hal Roach ended the series.  He was a bartender, a shoeshine boy and a tour guide.  Switzer tried to stay in acting and actually got small parts in some 60 films. but, they were often uncredited roles.  A few of the films were quite popular, even classics, such as My Favorite Blonde (1942), The Human Comedy (1943), Going My Way (1944), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), State of the Union (1948), Pat and Mike (1952).  We might even be able to find him as a slave in Cecile B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments (1956) though it might be tough considering it was the proverbial “cast of thousands.” 

Alfalfa was a husband and father

As it turns out, somehow Switzer never received any money for his work in Our Gang, even though he appeared in 75 film shorts.  TV had not gotten going and no one thought about royalties or syndication.  I haven’t figured out how or why he appeared in the films without being paid or how his parents allowed that to happen.  Anyway, in 1958 Switzer got a break and landed a good role in Stanley Kramer’s The Defiant Ones.  But,until its release, he needed to earn a living.  Apparently, Switzer liked the outdoors because he had several brushes with the law in the 1950’s, one of which involved illegally cutting down trees in the Sequoia National Forest.  Though his acting career seemed to have been on the rise in 1958, he was shot in a San Fernando Valley bar,but he recovered.  So, to pick up some extra money, he came up with a part time gig leading bear hunting expeditions.  Some of his customers included Henry Fonda and Roy Rogers.  So, apparently he was pretty well liked and well known. 

Alfalfa Died Over One of These

Seems that Switzer borrowed a guy’s hunting dog.  The dog escaped and he put out a $50 reward for its return.  When a man found the dog, Switzer not only paid him the $50 but he also bought him about $15 worth of drinks,which was quite a bit of booze back in the day.  A few days later, Switzer got loaded himself and decided to go to the dog owner’s house and demand that he be reimbursed for the $50.  The two men got in a fight and Switzer ended up shot to death.  The death was ruled as justifiable homicide because the story was that Switzer had hit the other man on the head with a lamp or a clock, then forced him into a closet.  Switzer supposedly came after the man with a hunting knife claiming he would kill him and the man responded by shooting him at close range with a pistol on this date in 1959.  However, some accounts claim that the knife was really a jacknife (or penknife) and the blade was closed.  There are many conflicting reports detailing the killing of Carl Alfalfa Switzer, but  in general they are consistent.  Nevertheless, Alfalfa was dead but the public generally didn’t know about it because it just do happened that Cecil B. DeMille died on the same day as Carl Switzer, which may be the root cause of the rumors that followed.  So, Alfalfa is not Alice Cooper and he did not die of a heroin overdose, yet, he remains dead. 

Louisville Area Rain Jan 20 and Jan 21

Near Term Weather More Like Gumby Rather Than Pokey

Weather Bottom Line:  Story remains consistent in the weather department with Saturday being the best day of the weekend, best day for the month of January and best day you will get for the forseeable future.  The pokey low I”ve been telling you about will be moving on by and, as it approaches overnight, will kick off t’storms to our south where there have been much warmer temperatures of late than we’ve seen around here. In fact, there is a slight chance of severe weather in Western Kentucky, maybe even as close as Bowling Green on Thursday afternoon.  I betcha the high for the day is actually after sunset on Thursday.  I suspect that showers will linger for early Friday but by midday the rain will end though we still won’t get out of the 40’s.  Then another system approaches and this time we get the benefir of warmer air.  Saturday will feature partly cloudy skies and an afternoon high pushing 60…and that will set the stage for potential thunderstorms on Saturday night, rain on Sunday and then late Monday or more likely Tuesday…we may get a little snow.  After that, the long term is a little up and down and not clear, but it does appear that we will be getting into a pattern of going from around average temperatures to periods of below average temperatures as we have a parade of storm systems moving through in a progressive manner…in other words more like Gumby, not Pokey.

Right to Smoke Non-Tobacco, Rights to Monopoly, Wrong to Kidnap Kaiser
January 5, 2010

Freedom of Expression!

Courts Haven't Ruled in Favor of This Kind of Free Speech

This one may be headed to the legal history bin:  Many municipalities have enacted anti-smoking laws.  I do not understand how constitutional position of such laws in relation to private business,  but I suppose that has probably been adjudicated.  But, the laws typically specifically address the smoking of tobacco products.  They often say nothing about non-tobacco products.  My history professor, Dr. Thomas Mackey, always reminded me of the importance of words and to write what you mean and mean what you write.  Legal professionals are supposed to write with such specificity but sometimes they fall short.  In Denver, apparently the law bans smoking of tobacco products so The Denver Curious Theater says it will go to the Supreme Court of the United States to argue their right to smoke non-tobacco products during theater productions.  Gee…I wonder what non-tobacco product they are considering?  They’ve been arguing for three years before state courts that the non-tobacco smoking is a form of free speech and should be protected as a right of free expression.  The Colorado Supreme Court didn’t buy it, serving up a smoking 6-1 ruling against the plaintiffs.  It will be interesting to see if the SCOTUS decides to hear the case.  I’d love to hear what Justice Scalia has to say.  Actually, if you look at some of Scalia’s less celebrated opinions, it’s possible that he may surprise some folks if he gets the chance.

Monopoly "Inventer" Cashed In, But Was it Legit?

Monopoly "Inventer" Cashed In, But Was it Legit?

I Doubt That Darrow Could Beat Tom Cruce

I Doubt That Darrow Could Beat Tom Cruce

On This Date in History:

When I was a kid…I’m talking kidnergarten through second grade…we played Monopoly all the time. We’d have games that lasted for days. Tom Cruce was always hiding money under the board and so we never knew how much he had. I think sometimes we made up our own rules. The game would often be transferred from one house to another, depending on the mood of the mother of whatever house we began the game. If the atmosphere became too tense, we simply moved to someone elses house.

1935 Version

1935 Version

That is my history of Monopoly and its probably a little more clear than the history of the game itself. Parker Brothers made a lot of money selling the game after it bought the rights in 1935. It had always been believed that Charles B. Darrow sketched the original version on a piece of oil cloth. Darrow, an out of work salesman, did not have the means to distribute the game so he offered it to Parker Brothers. But the game company thought it was too complicated and took a pass. So, Darrow joined forces with a friend and sold several sets in and around Philadelphia. Parker Brothers took another look at it and bought the rights. But, the story may be a bit more complicated than that.

Magie's 1904 Patent

Magie's 1904 Patent

In 1971(1973 or 1974 in some sources), someone came out with Anti-Monopoly. Naturally, Parker Brothers wasn’t too enthused and off to court they went. In the testimony, witnesses claimed that the game had been patented on this date in 1904 by Elizabeth J. Magie. Ms. Magie followed the theories of economist (now thought of as a socialist) Henry George and came up with the game to show the evils of real estate monopolies. Her early version was known as the Landlord Game and spaces sported names like Lord Blueblood’s Estate where trespassers were sent to jail. There was also Poverty Place. By the 1920’s, the game was being played in eastern universities by students who held left-wing ideals. At the Quaker Haverford College in Philadelphia, the student yearbook in 1924 made reference to the game and called in Monopoly.

Five years later, the students at Atlantic City Friends School were introduced to the game by a Quaker teacher. The spaces were given names found in Atlantic City with property values assigned and spaces painted in the colors that are familiar today. The story goes that a visitor to the school

1935 Marvin Gardens Card Misspelled

1935 Marvin Gardens Card Misspelled

took the game back to Philadelphia and showed it to a Quaker hotel manager named Charles Todd. Todd, in turn, showed it to Darrow. Todd said that Darrow was slow to catch on to how the game was played. Todd claimed that Darrow asked him to write up the rules and make a copy of the game board for him. Todd then asserted that “he(Darrow) stole the game and took it from there.” As proof, Todd said that when he made a copy for Darrow, he misspelled Marven Gardens. Instead of an “e” he used an “i” and that is why Marvin Gardens is not spelled properly on the board game.

So, Charles Darrow may indeed have been a fraud…but he did gain a monopoly…at least for awhile after he received U.S. Patent 2,026,082 for the game in 1935. Darrow became the first millionaire game designer in history and three years after he died in 1967, Atlantic City put up a commemorative plaque on the boardwalk near Park Place to honor the man who may not have invented Monopoly, but certainly profited from it. It looks like to me that the Quakers must have felt like that they got stuck with Baltic and Medeterranean while Darrow had Boardwalk and Park Place.

 

Kaiser Wilhelm II

Hand Over the Kaiser!  Well…Never Mind: 

After World War I, Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II found haven at a friend’s castle in Holland.  American Colonel Luke Lea was outraged, thinking that the former head of Germany should be tried as a war criminal.  Tennesseans from the days of Davy Crockett and his Tennessee Volunteers at the Alamo have been known for their toughness and hard headedness and Lea and his pals decided to hold up that tradition.  Lea got 7 other guys from his home state and plotted to capture the Kaiser and present him to President Wilson  as “a New Year’s Eve gift” at the Paris Peace conference.  So, the 8 Tennesseans acquired some passes, stole a couple of cars and, on this date in 1919, went to the Dutch town of Amerongen.  When they got to the castle, they BS’d their way past some guards and demanded to see the Kaiser.  Count von Bentinck asked what they wanted and they said they’d only tell the Kaiser.  The Kaiser refused to see them.  They argued a bit and then just decided to say “never mind” and left politely.  By that time, a crowd of soldiers had gathered but the octet managed to get in their stolen cars and made a clean getaway.  Or so they thought.  They were eventually apprehended and squeaked past a court martial, though I don’t think that was ever too much a concern.  See, the American commander, General John J. Pershing later said that he’d have given a year’s pay to have gone with Lea and his private expeditionary force.  It’s good to have the king on your side. 

CONUS Snow Depth NAM 7 AM Friday

Weather Bottom Line:  As of January 4, 2o10 58.1% of the United States was covered with an average of 5.9 inches of snow.  In a few days, that coverage will expand as a pretty quick moving shortwave dives down from the northern Rockies, across the plains, through the Ohio Valley and into the Carolinas.  Behind it will be another shot of arctic air that promises to keep Kentuckiana in a deep freeze.  As it passes on Thursday, it still appears to be the best shot this season for some decent snowfall.  Some models have over 4 inches of snow but I kinda like the 2-3 inch range a little better. The NAM has come in line with this thinking as it calls for a 2.5 inch snow depth over our region by Friday morning.  It’s possible for more than that, depending on the humidity of the air.  Lower dewpoints may result in a great snow to liquid ratio and so a fluffy snow may be closer to 4 inches.  Either way, I wouldn’t be surprised to see schools closed on Friday given its the first snow, its  the first week of school for the new year and it’s a  Friday and everyone wants a long weekend.  With snow on the ground, easily single digits and maybe low single digits could be in the cards Saturday morning.  You probably heard that here first but others will come around.

2012: Doomsday Just 3 Years Away; Winter Begins Today, 1/2 Nation Under Snow
December 21, 2009

El Triunfo de la muerte(1562)-Man has envisioned the Apocalypse (and been wrong) for centuries

Click Image to See how Fitz Destroys the World!

Is the End of the World 3 years from today in 2012?  The big hit movie that is out called 2012 claims that the end of the world will be upon us exactly 3 years from today.  There have been many end of the world movies over the years.  I like the Koko the Clown animated short that shows Koko unsuccessfully keeping the world from destruction from the actions of Fitz the Dog…click the photo to the right for the film…it’s great.  No, in 2012,  there will be huge floods, a big planet crashing into the earth and the sun will burn us to a crisp among other things.  This is all based on the Mayan calendar that ends on December 21, 2012. There’s even at least one website dedicated to helping you survive 2012.  But, according to the National Geographic, it’s all nonsense.  They point out that the Mayans had a long calendar that lasted 1,872,000 days or over 5125 years.  But, according to the experts, the Mayan calendar does not mark the end of all time, but instead marks the time when the calendar simply rolls over to another enormous cycle. 

I Like Koko's Version of the End Better

Now, the movie has sparked fear around the globe with reports of people threatening suicide to avoid the trauma of the impending doom.  Some women are said to have decided that they would kill their children and then commit suicide to spare the family from the fate of an apocalyptic world.  So much anxiety has been brought forth that NASA dedicated an entire webpage to try and aleviate fears.  However, back in 2006, NASA reported predictions that the current cycle of solar activity will peak soon.  A lead scientist predicted that it would be in…2012.  But others think its 2010 or 2011.  It is supposed to be the biggest burst of solar activity in 50 years.  Many people think that climate change is connected to solar activity, so this should add to the debate. 

Who knows what will happen 3 years from now…we don’t even know what’s going to  happen this year except that one thing is for certain…

December 21, 2009 is the start of Winter, or the Winter Solstice. It starts at 17:47 UTC or 17:47 Z.  That is 12:47 pm EST.  That is when the earth is positioned such that the sun shines directly over 23.5 degree south latitude, which is the Tropic of Capricorn.  Actually, I think its 23 degrees and 27 minutes south latitude.   The day is the longest in the Southern Hemisphere and the shortest of the Northern Hemisphere.  So, why is it the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere?  It’s because the earth’s atmosphere has lots of water vapor.  What has that got to do with anything?  Well, the heat capacitance of water is rather high so it takes a while for it to warm up and cool down.  Think of a pot of water. When you add heat to the stove, the water doesn’t boil immediately, it takes awhile to heat up.  When you remove the heat, it doesn’t cool right away but takes awhile to return to room temperature.  Same with the earth.  When the radition of the sun is decreased, it takes awhile for that part of the earth to cool down.  From this point forth, the Northern Hemisphere will start receiving a more concentrated dose of solar radiation, but it will take a few months for the atmosphere to react.  Hence, spring does not come until around March 21 when the sun’s radiation is generally perpendicular to the equator.  NASA explains fully the seasons.

Heat Index Chart

The same principal holds for weather conditions with regard to geography or local atmospheric conditions.  In the desert, it is not uncommon for there to be a 40 degree difference in day and night temperatures.  But, along the coastal regions, there can be as little as a 5 degree difference between daily highs and lows.  That is because in the desert, it is dry and along the coast there is an abundance of humidity levels, or moisture content in the air.  That is why it is pretty tough for temperatures along the coast to hit 95 degrees or higher.  It does happen but there has to be perfect conditions.  People who talk about a place like New Orleans claims it gets to 95 degrees with 95% humidity.  That is simply not pragmatically possible.  But, what is quite frequent in New Orleans is a temperature of say 88 degrees with 60% humidity.  The chart on the left indicates that would create a heat index of 95 degrees.   Oh, it does happen from time to time in the middle east, particularly in the Persian Gulf.  I think Ethiopia has the record highest dewpoint at 94 degrees.  To make my point, if it were 115 degrees and the dewpoint was 94, the relative humidity would be about 54%. 

Now, one should not confuse the solstice with the perihelion.  The earth rotates about the sun, not in a circle, but instead in an eliptical orbit.  The earth tilts on it’s axis at about 23.5 degrees and when it is near its closest, or the perihelion, it is tilted away from the sun.  It’s seems counterintuitive for residents in the Northern Hemisphere, which is most of humanity, but the earth is closest to the sun not long after the winter solstice.  The earth’s perihelion is around January 3 of each year, which one in Chicago would call the dead of winter.   The aphelion is when the earth is about 152 million kilometers from the sun, or about 7 million kilometers more than it is at the perihelion.  You have a different reason to celebrate the 4th of July now that you know that July 4 is the earth’s aphelion.  I’ve always reasoned that nature shows its wisdom in this process.   See, when the earth is at its closest, the landmass of the southern hemisphere is tilted toward the sun…the region of the earth that has far less landmass than the northern hemisphere.  Perhaps we would suffer extreme global warming if the majority of landmass were closest to the sun when the tilt was toward the sun.  True perfection, this planet of ours.

Click on Image for 2 week animation of snow depth

Weather Dunce

Weather Bottom Line:  To begin Winter, the lower 48 of the United States has about a 52% snow cover.  Louisville got a bit of a dusting late Sunday night.  I typically do what weather guys do which is follow the Jackson Browne methodology and  “forget about the losses and exaggerate the wins.  But, I will break with tradition and tell you that I was a dunce.  I did not see this little snow event.  My guess is that it’s not because it wasn’t there and was a “surprise” as newscasters like to say when a forecast doesn’t come about.  No, I believe that it was probably right there in the data and I simply missed it.  I was a dunce.  But, I am confident of victory regarding Christmas.  It will not be a White Christmas.  The big storm coming out of the southwest will pass to our west.  We will have rain with steadily rising temperatures as we go through the week.  As I had mentioned the other day, there was a weird push of cold air with the low remaining somewhat stationary to our northwest, which I believe is an indication that the low is going into it’s dying stage and we have an occlusion developing.  But, I don’t think that will result in any significant snow and if anything does come about, it would be in the form of a dusting for Friday.  But, after warming above seasonal levels by midweek, we go back below seasonal temperatures for next weekend.

Three Killed in Celebrated Violence on American Street
October 26, 2009

caskets

Stories May Differ, but End Result the Same

wyatt_earp

I always Wanted a Moustache Like Wyatt Earp

On This Date In History:  In the silver boom town of Tombstone, Arizona an event occurred that would be etched in western lore: The Gunfight at the OK Corral. Trouble is many historians say it didn’t happen at the OK Corral and it wasn’t much of a gunfight (here is one account).  The main protagonist in most of the tales was Wyatt Earp (see photo gallery).  This may be because the main story teller ended up being Wyatt Earp.   There had been many disputes between the Earps (Wyatt, Virgil and Morgan) and a group of ruffians known as the Cowboys. Five of the group gathered on this date in 1881 on a vacant lot near the OK Corral. Virgil was the town Marshall with Wyatt and Morgan as his deputies. Their friend and gambler, John (Doc) Holliday joined the Earps and the quartet went down the street to greet the Cowboys. At about 3 pm the gunfight began. About 30 seconds and 30 gunshots later, it was over.

You Don't Find Too Many Pictures of Doc Holliday

You Don't Find Too Many Pictures of Doc Holliday

Unlike the movie versions, particularly Gunfight at the OK Corrall with Burt Lancaster and My Darling Clementine with Henry Fonda and Louisvillian Victor Mature, it apparently involved the Earps and Holliday walking up to the bad guys and gunfire breaking out. There is dispute about who fired the first shot but in the end, 3 of the 5 cowboys lay dead and all but Wyatt was injured, though one of the remaining Cowboys fled. There was a trial for the Earps but they were found not guilty with the judge saying they were “fully justified in committing these homicides.”

Wyatt Earp Later in Life

Wyatt Earp Later in Life

If you go and look this up, you will find all sorts of conflicting stories. The early movies were based almost solely on the reminiscences of Wyatt Earp, who spent his later years in Hollywood as a consultant to those making westerns. So, the stories tend to lean toward Wyatt’s heroics. Later films try to be more realistic. But there is no real clear cut truth. However, one interesting aspect to the Earp lore appears to be true. That is that Wyatt, through all of his gunfights and violent episodes never once was shot. The same can’t be said of those who rode with him or against him. Wyatt died in quietly in his sleep 1929 in Hollywood, CA. Many of the western movie stars of the day attended his funeral.

Great Fonda Waltz

Great Fonda Waltz

Which is your favorite portrayal of Wyatt Earp in film? I kinda liked My Darling Clementine…Henry Fonda does a great dance.   Aside from Gunfight at the OK Corral, AMC lists ten films depicting Wyatt Earp.  The AMC list notes that the portrayal of Erroll Flynn in Dodge City (1939)  was of the character Wade Hatton, but claims the role was “clearly based on the gunslinger.”  Why would they not just use the name Wyatt Earp? AMC doesn’t say but maybe it was to protect the innocent.  But, it may have had to do with the fact that Randolph Scott had the role of Wyatt Earp in Frontier Marshal from the same year.        So popular is the lore of Wyatt Earp, Colleen Coughlin has an article on the Law in Popular Culture collection at the University of Texas’ Jamail Center for Legal Research called Law at the OK Corrall: Reading Wyatt Earp films.   

A Very Weird Film

A Very Weird Film

One other thing about Victor Mature. He sorta retired in 1961 but he did appear in the Monkees last (and only) movie called Head. It was a really weird movie and was a sorta good-bye from the Monkees as their tv show either had been cancelled or if they made the film it would be cancelled. It’s really a psychedellic late 60’s film produced by Jack Nicholson and was totally un-Monkee like. Even Frank Zappa was in it. To give you an idea of how off the wall it was, the premise is that the Monkees are living in a world that is really a spot of dandruff on Victor Mature’s hair. See it if you can. There are really some pretty good songs(especially The Porpoise Song) that, again, are very un-Monkee-like.

Tuesday Evening

Tuesday Evening

Weather Bottom Line:  The upper level disturbance associated with a surface low to our south is still out there, it’s just behind schedule.  A few days ago I was looking toward Monday for the clouds and maybe a shower but I thought it would be generally dry.  Well, the disturbance is still going to come through and will still bring clouds but most likely on Tuesday and I still think most of Tuesday will be dry but now indications are that Tuesday night we may see some showers.  Now, a vigorous storm system will be swinging through toward the end of  the week with a pretty deep trof in association.  Seems to me that Friday we will probably see rain and possibly some thunderstorms.  The SPC is looking more at the lower Mississippi Valley for strong storms on Thursday but it will be interesting to see how it shakes out around here.  There is a lot of low level convergence down there and the disturbance moving through is pretty robust.  The big stuff will probably get cut off down that way but, it will be of interest to see if some of that action moves up our way.   I say that the trof is deep but its more accurate to say its very pronounced.  By the time it comes our way, its already lifting up and out and damping.  Hence, we will get coolish but not too terribly cold for the weekend behind the cold front.

Typhoon Parma,Typhoon Melor forecast aided by satellite with origins of 52 yrs ago
October 4, 2009

Western Pacific Color IR 1730Z 10.04.09

Western Pacific Color IR 1730Z 10.04.09

For a more recent update on Parma and Typhoon Melor CLICK HERE

Parma JTWC Forecast Track

Parma JTWC Forecast Track

Typhoon Parma forecasting continues to be a daunting task. More than a day ago, I told you of the prospects of the storm potentially coming back toward the Philippines in reaction to Typhoon Melor (JTWC warning/discussion text)  passing by to the east. I suspect that the forecasters knew this too but they were trying not to alarm the populus until more descernable evidence showed up. Now, the media has finally gotten clued into the possibility. “It is possible that it (Parma) will make U-turn and will hit Luzon again,” said forecaster Nathaniel Cruz. I mentioned that a couple of days ago. I want to emphasize that its just a possibility at this point. So far, the storm has not been handled well consistently by any model and the official forecasts have been all over the place. But, the potential for a return visit remains on the table.

W. Pacific Water Vapor Image/Loop

W. Pacific Water Vapor Image/Loop

Those are ifs and buts so lets look at whats really going on.  A trof emerged out of China and dove down toward Parma.  That has done some damge to the storm sufficiently weakening to to Tropical Storm status.  That is good news.  Bad news is that it still has pretty good looking circulation.  The satellite imagery shows just how much the storm has eroded.   Northern convection is almost absent and an eye is tough to find.  As long as it keeps that circulation, once the trof moves by, then it could start to regain intensity…BUT…if it does stay pretty much quasi-stationary…or generally in the same spot, what will happen is that the warm water on the ocean surface gets washed around and colder water below comes to the surface to take its place.  This is called upwelling and a tropical cyclone cannot stay in one place for long and expect to live because cold water will come to the surface and it needs water temperatures of at least 26.5 degrees C to survive.  So, will it stay in one place?  The fate of Tropical Storm Parma may fall to Super Typhoon Melor.

Typhoon Melor JTWC Forecast Track

Typhoon Melor JTWC Forecast Track

How these two storms are related is as follows.  Typhoon Melor is a very well developed Super Typhoon.  Its forecast track takes it across the Philippine Sea and swings all the way to the eastern Luzon Strait.  It has a counter-clockwise flow.  Now, Typhoon Parma is meandering in the northeastern South China Sea or the western Luzon Strait.  As the two storms get close, the flow around Melor will tend to send Parma down to the south.  Meanwhile, the flow around Parma may swing Melor a bit more northwest.  But, Melor is the dominant storm and has much greater forward momentum so the effects of Parma on it would be less distinct though it may be significant enough to swing Melor closer to Japan than might otherwise happen.  Japan is going to at least be affected by the western edge of Melor.  Meanwhile, the big question with Parma will be if the flow around Melor is strong enough and lasts long enough to swing Parma south and then southeast back toward the Philippines, which could be catastrophic because in all liklihood, this would take it back over Manila.  But, several of the models want to bring the storm back south and then west…as Melor moves quickly to the northeast, Parma gets slung out before it comes back around to the Philippines and instead moves southwest and then west toward Vietnam, which isn’t good for them either because they too had great affect from last week’s Tropical Storm Ketsana.  The variables remain great and so the confidence in the longer term forecast remains questionable.  See the 15Z Forecast Discussion/Prognastic reasoning for Parma at the bottom of the post.

W Pacific IR Satellite Loop

W Pacific IR Satellite Loop

I’ve had some queries regarding how to track Typhoon Parma and Typhoon Melor.  If you click on this link for the Western Pacific Water Vapor Image Loop, you will get the most recent imagery and it will provide the best viewing of the eye for either storm if it exists.  If you click on the maps of the forecast track for either storm, the most recent update of the forecast track and the most recent position will also appear.  We kinda take this satellite stuff for granted nowadays, but the ability to track tropical cyclones really hasn’t been around too long. The first storm tracked using satellite imagery was Hurricane Camille in August 1969.  It just happened that that storm developed rapidly in the Gulf of Mexico from a long lived tropical storm into a hurricane with winds of up to 200 mph.  The forecast was difficult but with the satellite technology available, the forecasters were able to improve their ability and perhaps many lives were spared with an advanced warning that they may not have otherwise have had.  You can find the history of the origin of man-made space satellites below…

On This Date In History: Speaking of satellites…on this date in 1957, many Americans were quaking in their boots. The Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite. It was a small metal sphere with a few antennae sticking out. It weighed about 157 pounds and emitted a radio beeping sound heard by millions around the earth as news readers announced the feat. The frightful thing about the development in many Americans’ minds was that the Soviets had proven they could launch an intercontinental ballistic missile. If they could deliver a metal sphere into space, then it was plausible they could deliver an atomic warhead into Uncle Sam’s back yard. Sputnik came to be known as a “baby moon” because, like the moon, it was a satellite of the earth and both had spherical shapes. That led many Americans to fear that the Soviets would gain a strategic edge in outer space development….perhaps build space platforms or a base on the moon from which they could make sneak attacks on the USA by dropping bombs from above. There’s a great line from The Right Stuff  in which Lyndon Johnson says, “I for one do not intend to go to bed at night by the light of a communist moon!” The US Army launched Explorer I on January 31, 1958 as Americas first artificial satellite.

Today's Weather Satellites are descendents of Sputnik

Today's Weather Satellites are descendents of Sputnik

The Eisenhower Administration decided it was time to get serious and so on October 1, 1958 the President announced the creation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to bring all space efforts under one umbrella. President Kennedy made it a national goal to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960’s. He made no mention of it but most Americans thought the idea was to beat the Soviets to the moon. We did and that was that….we also got Tang, Teflon, mini-computers, microwave ovens and other things but not Velcro. That was invented by a Swiss Mountain climber in the 1940’s and 1950’s…it took him a while to develop it. I think he got his inspiration from his dog getting grass burrs in his coat following a mountain walk.

Louisville Weather Bottom Line:  Previously, it appeared that a warm front would be lifted our way on Monday and increase rain chances then.  There had been some notion that would happen.  The GFS had been most bullish on this solution but its taken it off the board.  The Canadian Model has short waves to the south but moves them east instead of into the Ohio Valley.   So, Monday will have a mix of clouds and sun with rain chances increasing on Tuesday as a warm front/cold front combo works its way through.  So, look for rain Tuesday, maybe some t’storms.  Rain chances will carry into Tuesday night and then reinforcing cool air coming in for the rest of the week.  The cool pattern appears to be interested in sticking around for at least another 10 days.

WDPN33 PGTW 041500
MSGID/GENADMIN/NAVMARFCSTCEN PEARL HARBOR HI/JTWC//
SUBJ/PROGNOSTIC REASONING FOR TYPHOON 19W (PARMA) WARNING NR 28//
RMKS/
1. FOR METEOROLOGISTS.
2. 12 HOUR SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS.
    A. TROPICAL STORM (TS) PARMA HAS WEAKENED OVER THE PAST SIX
HOURS. A FAIRLY NEW UPPER LEVEL FEATURE (SHORTWAVE TROUGH) APPEARS
TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE RAPID DEPLETION OF PARMA’S DEEP
CONVECTION. THE TROUGH ORIGINATED OVER CENTRAL CHINA AND HAS SINCE
CONTINUED TO DIG EQUATORWARD. SKEW-T SOUNDINGS ALONG THE SOUTHERN
COAST OF CHINA INDICATE THE TROUGH EXTENDS AS FAR SOUTH AS 23.5N,
LESS THAN 4 DEGREES SHY OF PARMA’S LATITUDE. A VERY TIGHT SHEAR
GRADIENT, AND RELATIVELY DRIER AIR MASS, ASSOCIATED WITH THIS
TROUGH, CONTINUE TO WEAKEN THE SYSTEM. DESPITE THE CURRENT VOID OF
DEEP CONVECTION A STRONG SURFACE CIRCULATION REMAINS. DVORAK
ESTIMATES FROM PGTW HAVE FALLEN TO A 3.0/4.0. THE FINAL-T NUMBER IS
BASED ON THE PATTERN-T, VICE A WRAP, BECAUSE THE CONVECTION IS TOO
WEAK. THE SYSTEM HAS ALSO GENERALLY TRACKED FROM NORTHWESTWARD TO
MORE NORTHWARD OVER THE PAST 12 HOURS WITHIN A WEAK STEERING
ENVIRONMENT. 
3.   FORECAST REASONING
    A. THE SYSTEM IS NOW CLASSIFIED AS A TROPICAL STORM BECAUSE THE
INITIAL INTENSITY HAS DROPPED BELOW 65 KNOTS.
    B. THE SYSTEM IS STILL EXPECTED TO MEANDER TO THE NORTHEAST OF
LUZON IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA FOR THE NEXT 5 DAYS. THE POTENTIAL FOR
REINTENSIFICATION EXISTS ONCE THE TROUGH MENTIONED IN PARA 2.A.
PASSES TO THE EAST. HOWEVER, UPWELLING OF COOLER WATER WILL BEGIN TO
STALL INTENSIFICATION OR EVEN BEGIN TO WEAKEN THE SYSTEM. THERE IS
ALSO THE POSSIBILITY THAT THE TROUGH MAY STRIP THE CIRCULATION OF SO
MUCH CONVECTION THAT IT IS UNABLE TO REBOUND BEFORE UPWELLING BEGINS
TO CUT OFF INTENSIFICATION ALL TOGETHER. THERE IS STILL SOME
UNCERTAINTY IN THE TRACK OF TS 19W GIVEN THAT IT IS IN A WEAK AND
ILL-DEFINED STEERING ENVIRONMENT. IF RIDGING BUILDS TO THE WEST OF
THE SYSTEM, THEN STORM WILL GRADUALLY BEGIN TO PULL OUT TO THE
SOUTHWEST, AS THE MAJORITY OF THE DYNAMIC AIDS INDICATE. ON THE
OTHER HAND, IF THE RIDGE TO THE EAST REBUILDS FASTER (AND STRONGER)
THAN THE RIDGE TO THE WEST THEN THAT WILL BECOME THE PREDOMINANT
STEERING MECHANISM FOR PARMA. THERE IS ALSO THE EXPECTATION THAT IF
THE STORM IS UNABLE TO REACQUIRE DEEP CONVECTION, THE TRACKERS WILL
INITIALIZE A STRONGER SYSTEM WITH ERRONEOUS TRACK SOLUTIONS.
    C. THERE IS NO STRONG INDICATION, THAT BEYOND DAY 4, THE CYCLONE
WILL BEGIN TO BE PICKED UP BY ANY RIDGING/FLOW SUFFICIENT ENOUGH TO
GUIDE IT OUT OF THIS QUASISTATIONARY STATE. AS SUCH, THE FORECAST
REMAINS SLOW, BUT NEAR THE MODEL CONSENSUS AND PREVIOUS FORECAST.

You Don’t Know Uncle Tom-He Was the Opposite of What Many Americans Think
September 27, 2009

 

This Image of Uncle Tom More Closely Resembles Stowe's Tom Than Modern Convention

This Image of Uncle Tom More Closely Resembles Stowe's Tom Than Modern Convention

 

Stowe: Anti-Slavery

Stowe: Anti-Slavery

On This Date in History: On this date in 1852, the first successful stage dramatization of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin took place in Troy, NY. The key word here is “successful.” Stowe herself had tried to bring the novel to the stage but it failed. How could that be? The book sold over 300,000 copies in the first year. Well, if you have read the novel, then you know that it was a huge attack on the slave culture. President Lincoln, upon meeting Stowe said, “so this is the little woman who made this big war.” Obviously that was a bit of an overstatement and unfair to put that war on her head. But, it did play a role. While she had only seen one plantation, Stowe went to former slave Frederick Douglass for help in detailing slave life. Stowe was inspired by the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that allowed for slaves who had escaped to non-slave states in the north to be returned to slavery. Hers was the first glimpse of what slave life was really like. It brought to the attention of northerners of the brutality of many plantations and the inhuman condition brought to the slaves. This stands in sharp contrast to modern ideas.

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass Consulted With Stowe

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass Consulted With Stowe

Often in popular culture you hear the phrase “I’m no Uncle Tom” or a reference to someone as “an Uncle Tom” in derisive terms alluding to someone who knuckles under and does the white man’s bidding. But, the character of Uncle Tom in Stowe’s novel was anything but the modern vision. He was a strong figure described by many reviewers as a “Christlike figure” who was actually killed by his owner, Simon LeGree. So, how did we get such a different, opposite view of Uncle Tom? I am speculating here but I suspect that the reason Stowe’s version of Uncle Tom failed is because it followed her novel. Uncle Tom was portrayed as the strong, proud man that she had created. But the versions of the book that came to stage, and later film, that were successful presented a Tom who was a shuffling, subservient old man. My guess is that audiences, even those who opposed slavery, did not want to see a strong black man opposing and standing up to authority. That feeling remained prevalent well into the early 20th century and thus, films followed the same recipe. So, when someone is called an “Uncle Tom” it should signify characterstics of strength of characater, integrity and self-worth. Instead, due to stage and film adaptations, being called an “Uncle Tom” holds an extremely negative connotation.

Novel's Meaning Destroyed by Stage/Film

Novel's Meaning Destroyed by Stage/Film

It’s a shame because the novel held such significance. Stowe was attacked in print and vilified by the pro-slavery crowd and received “mountains of threatening mail.” One package was sent to her containing the severed ear of a slave! But, it’s nothing new. Today films that are supposedly based on history are often fudged, altered and fictionalized. There are other movies that make one think that they are historical when, in fact, they are largely nonsense. Do not depend on popular culture, films, TV or even the internet for your history. Read published works instead. Go to the primary source. The sad story of the evolution of Uncle Tom is a great example of how popular culture can distort or even destroy the truth.

Louisville NWS Sunday Night Forecast

Louisville NWS Sunday Night Forecast

Weather Bottom Line:  The humid, wet pattern we’ve been in all week is gone.  If you are looking for fall, your wait is over.  The bulk of the heaviest rain Saturday night showed up in Central Kentucky causing some serious flooding.  All in all, the HPC forecast outlined in previous days was on the money.   Now, we have a secondary front coming through.  After a pretty nice day on Sunday, we’ll have a chance for rain and t’storms overnight, though nothing serious.  The wind will pick up though as the main batch of high pressure builds in. Temperatures will fall to the 50’s.  As I’ve been saying for days now, it will be tough for us to get to the 70’s over the next 3 days.  Look for mid to upper 60’s through Wednesday with overnight lows in the 40’s.  I would not be surprised to see some upper 30’s on Tuesday morning and maybe Wednesday morning in the extreme northern parts of the viewing area about half way between Louisville and Indianapolis.

Michael Jackson and Howard Hughes: Two sides of same coin?
August 3, 2009

Time Magazine April 1976

Time Magazine April 1976

The Dashing Hughes

The Dashing Hughes

On This Date in History:   If you saw the movie The Aviator starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, you may recall a scene in which Hughes is testifying before a Senate committee and the charge is brought that Hughes regularly used funds to entertain influential people in the military industrial complex to help win contracts.  Hughes acknowledges the charges in a matter-of-fact manner, saying that is just the way the aviation business is done and that everyone spends money on key people, not as bribes, but as a way to influence their decisions.  I’ve never read the transcripts of the actual hearings so I don’t know if that part of the script was just written to indicate the true situation.  But, on this date in 1947, the New York Times broke the story, though its much more interesting.

nytimeselliottrooseveltIt is more interesting because the NYTimes goes to great lengths to describe how Hughes is charged with spending over $5000 on the son of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Elliott Roosevelt,  who was the guy who could make or break military contracts with individual companies.  In the story, it’s not Hughes who fesses up, but instead one of his associates who, just a easily as Hughes was portrayed in the movie, admits that they did and do regularly throw parties and entertain people like Fred Roosevelt.  In fact he said Elliott was just “one of  1000″ that he entertained.   The Times goes on to say that there was more…that Hughes Aircraft provided women to government officials!  What is intersting is that no one really gets mad at the government folks accepting the gratuities.  I mean, Howard Hughes could invite FDR’s son all he wants but no one forces him to go.  But, that never comes up.

Hughes Testifying

Hughes Testifying

Now, Hughes died on April 5, 1976 amidst mysterious circumstances.  He was said to have become exceedingly excentric and developed phobias to about everything, including germs.  Some speculate that he was the money man behind Watergate and that Richard Nixon never would have been forced to resign had not Hughes been secretly funding White House operations.  Seems, in the early 1970’s, the then richest man in the world was found in England flying around naked, which was apparently not unusual.  Late in his secret  life, he surrounded himself by Mormons and doctors, yet in death the only way he could be identified was through fingerprints.  He was a genius on many levels, but his later life was clouded with his erratic behaviour.    There are those who say that Hughes was allowed to die by his handlers who were more interested in making money for themselves than caring for Hughes, who was reportedly around 90 lbs, with long stringy hair, a beard to his waist and very long fingernails when he died on a plane over the Gulf of Mexico enroute to Houston from Acapulco.  There are those who say he really died in Acapulco and the story was simply a fabrication to add to his legacy.  Then, of course, there were the years sifting through all of the wills that appeared following his death.

Jackson

Another Hughes?

Now, does that sound familiar?  Who else can you think of that gained great fame and fortune as a youth?   Who else was dubbed a genius for the innovation that he brought to his field?  Who else became extremely eccentric and mysterious later in his life?  Who else died of mysterious circumstances leaving a vast estate?  How about Michael Jackson.  And now, like Hughes, there are charges and speculation that his death was not as it seemed.  

As Eccentric as Hughes?

As Eccentric as Hughes?

 I don’t think that Jackson ran around naked all the time, but there was the weird stuff like his ever changing appearance, dangling his kid off a balcony and having young boys have sleep overs.  And, his sister LaToya says that Michael was murdered by those who wanted his money.  I drew this comparison on my own but I found that his father, Joe Jackson, also compared Michael’s final days to those of Hughes.  So, I suspect we will be hearing more of this comparison in the media in coming days.  Ad to that the fact that Joe Jackson  also says that he was killed by people who plan to cash in on his death, and we have the makings of a story that will live on for years.   Jackson friend, activist and comedian Dick Gregory went on a 40 day hunger strike until the “truth” about Jackson’s death comes out.  Hmmm…wonder what happens if the “truth” doesn’t come out for 60 or 90 days?  Or, what if it comes out in 30 days?  Does Gregory go hungry for another 10 days just for good measure?  The real truth at this point is that no one knows.  It does seem odd that a man like Hughes was allowed to fall into such ill health, mental illness and drug addiction.  And, it does seem odd that a man like Jackson was allowed access to the drugs that he was apparently addicted to.  You know who else comes to mind with a similar scenario? Elvis, except Elvis is not generally thought of as a genius. 

Joe Jackson: Michael's Death Comparable to Hughes'

Joe Jackson: Michael's Death Comparable to Hughes'

Maybe its just that the hangers on of both Hughes and Jackson were too afraid by their boss’s fame and fortune to say anything.  Maybe they were yes men and did whatever the boss said.  Or, maybe it is like some think….that those that surrounded the two men were complicit in each death because they stood to gain financially.  I dunno.  But, I do wonder sometimes if the fame and fortune that many seek is really worth the effort.   I wonder, as these individuals rose in notoriety and their celebrity no longer allowed them time alone or time out of the public eye, if maybe at times each of them did not secretly wish that they could go back to being “normal.”  Hughes was famously out of sight for years to escape the spotlight and Jackson had been heard recently saying he wished everyone would leave him alone.  If we could ask them now, I wonder if they would say the  life they lived was worth a life being cut short.  I mean, is it really so good to be the king?

SPC Convective Outlook Tue 8AM to Wed 8AM

SPC Convective Outlook Tue 8AM to Wed 8AM

Weather Bottom Line:  I would suggest keeping a close eye on Tuesday evening.  The reason being is that the NAM explodes a huge shortwave to our west and then brings it through the flow ahead of a cold front.  The GFS does the same thing except that it does not initialize the short as strongly as the NAM but brings it through in better shape than the NAM which has it winding down somewhat.  Nevertheless, should that scenario materialize, there will be a pretty fair chance at strong storms late in the day Tuesday or Tuesday evening.  Other models show the feature but none of them are as significant as the NAM or even the GFS.  We’ll have to see how it shakes out.  Today will be warm in the mid to upper 80’s but it should be dry.  Normally, I’d think that we will be too dry to get anything overly significant with the short wave but if it comes as strong as advertised with the NAM, then it will tend to find the moisture it needs.

DAY 2 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK 
   NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
   1256 AM CDT MON AUG 03 2009
  
   VALID 041200Z – 051200Z
  
   …THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS ACROSS THE MIDDLE MS/OH RIVER
   VALLEYS…
  
   …THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS ACROSS THE NORTH CENTRAL HIGH
   PLAINS…
  
   …SYNOPSIS…
   TUESDAY WILL BE CHARACTERIZED BY A FAIRLY PROGRESSIVE UPPER TROUGH
   OVER EASTERN CANADA…WITH MULTIPLE LOW AMPLITUDE DISTURBANCES
   EMBEDDED WITHIN NORTHWESTERLY FLOW ALOFT FROM THE NORTHERN ROCKIES
   TO THE APPALACHIANS. PERSISTENT UPPER LOW OFF THE NORTHERN CA COAST
   WILL ONLY MOVE SLOWLY EASTWARD…WITH AN UPPER RIDGE OTHERWISE
   PERSISTING OVER THE CENTRAL/SOUTHERN ROCKIES.
  
   …LOWER MO/MIDDLE MS VALLEYS TO OH/TN VALLEYS…
   COLD FRONT WILL CONTINUE TO GRADUALLY SPREAD SOUTH-SOUTHEASTWARD
   OVER THE MIDWEST/OH VALLEY ON TUESDAY…AS BRUNT OF UPPER TROUGH
   PIVOTS EAST-NORTHEASTWARD OVER ONTARIO/QUEBEC AND THE ADJACENT GREAT
   LAKES REGION. IT APPEARS THAT SCATTERED TSTMS /PERHAPS SOME STRONG/
   WILL BE ONGOING ACROSS THE MIDDLE MS/LOWER OH VALLEYS TUESDAY
   MORNING. AIDED BY A POTENTIAL MID LEVEL IMPULSE EMBEDDED WITHIN
   NORTHWESTERLY FLOW ALOFT…THE REMNANTS OF THIS ACTIVITY AND/OR
   PERIPHERAL STRONG/SEVERE DEVELOPMENT SHOULD OCCUR EASTWARD ACROSS
   THE OH VALLEY/TN VALLEY THROUGH THE AFTERNOON AMIDST A WESTERLY LOW
   LEVEL MOISTURE/INSTABILITY FEED.
  
   FARTHER NORTH/WEST ACROSS THE REMAINDER OF THE MIDWEST/LOWER MO
   VALLEY…THE DETAILS OF THE SEVERE THREAT ARE DIFFICULT TO PORTEND
   IN ADVANCE LARGELY OWING TO UNCERTAINTIES REGARDING EARLY DAY
   CONVECTION…BUT AT LEAST A CONDITIONAL CATEGORICAL SLIGHT RISK
   APPEARS WARRANTED. PRESUMING A RELATIVELY
   UNPERTURBED/NON-CONVECTIVELY OVERTURNED AIRMASS…ADDITIONAL
   STRONG/SEVERE DEVELOPMENT WOULD ALSO BE POSSIBLE FARTHER NORTH IN
   VICINITY OF THE ROUGHLY WEST-EAST SURFACE FRONT…ALTHOUGH A BOUT OF
   POTENTIAL LARGE SCALE SUBSIDENCE IN THE WAKE OF THE EARLY DAY MID
   LEVEL IMPULSE AGAIN COMPLICATES THE DETAILS OF DIURNAL
   REDEVELOPMENT.
  
   WITH THE NOCTURNAL REDEVELOPMENT OF A MODEST WESTERLY LOW LEVEL JET
   ACROSS THE LOWER MO VALLEY…STRONG/SEVERE DEVELOPMENT COULD BECOME
   MORE LIKELY BY EVENING AND/OR CONTRIBUTE TO ANOTHER ROUND OF STRONG
   STORMS ACROSS THE LOWER MO/MIDDLE MS VALLEYS TUESDAY NIGHT.
   OVERALL…DAMAGING WINDS/SEVERE HAIL WILL BE THE PRIMARY HAZARDS
   ACROSS THE REGION…AND ULTIMATELY SOMEWHAT HIGHER CALIBER SEVERE
   PROBABILITIES COULD LATER BE WARRANTED.
  
   …NORTH CENTRAL HIGH PLAINS…
   EARLY DAY REINFORCING FRONTAL PASSAGE WILL CONTRIBUTE TO INCREASING
   MOIST UPSLOPE TRAJECTORIES WITHIN THE POST-FRONTAL ENVIRONMENT
   ACROSS THE NORTH CENTRAL HIGH PLAINS ON TUESDAY. UPPER HEIGHTS MAY
   GRADUALLY RISE DIURNALLY ACROSS THE REGION WITH LIMITED BACKGROUND
   FORCING FOR ASCENT…HOWEVER BY LATE AFTERNOON/EARLY EVENING…TSTM
   DEVELOPMENT WILL BECOME MORE PROBABLE GIVEN COMBINATION OF A WEAKLY
   CAPPED/MOIST AIRMASS…LOW LEVEL UPSLOPE/HEATING OVER THE HIGHER
   TERRAIN…AND POTENTIALLY ONE OR MORE MID LEVEL DISTURBANCES
   CRESTING THE SOUTHERN ROCKIES UPPER RIDGE DURING THE EVENING. VEERED
   WIND PROFILES THROUGH THE LOW TO MID TROPOSPHERE AND 40-45 KT OF
   EFFECTIVE BULK SHEAR WILL SUPPORT BOTH SUPERCELLS AND WELL ORGANIZED
   MULTICELLS CAPABLE OF SEVERE HAIL/DAMAGING WINDS AND PERHAPS A
   TORNADO…MAINLY ACROSS PORTIONS OF EASTERN WY/SOUTHWEST SD/WESTERN
   NEB TUESDAY LATE AFTERNOON/NIGHT.
  
   …KS/FAR NORTHERN OK…
   CONVERGENCE/STRONG HEATING IN VICINITY OF SURFACE LOW/TRIPLE POINT
   MAY CONTRIBUTE TO ISOLATED STRONG/SEVERE TSTM DEVELOPMENT TUESDAY
   AFTERNOON ACROSS KS INTO FAR NORTHERN OK. LIMITED FORCING ON THE
   LARGE SCALE MAY LIMIT THE COVERAGE OF TSTMS…BUT STEEP LAPSE RATE
   ENVIRONMENT/AMPLE INSTABILITY MAY YIELD A FEW BOUTS OF SEVERE
   HAIL/WIND GUSTS THROUGH SUNSET.
  
   …SOUTHWEST/CENTRAL MT AND ADJACENT ID…
   THE COMBINATION OF THE STALLING SURFACE FRONT AND DIFFERENTIAL
   HEATING OVER THE HIGHER TERRAIN…ALONG WITH A RELATIVELY MOIST
   AIRMASS AND MODERATELY STRONG WESTERLY FLOW ALOFT…MAY PROVE
   SUFFICIENT FOR STORMS CAPABLE OF ISOLATED SEVERE HAIL/WIND TUESDAY
   AFTERNOON/EARLY EVENING.
  
   …ORE…
   UPPER HEIGHTS WILL LIKELY FALL OVER WESTERN/CENTRAL ORE ON TUESDAY
   AS PERSISTENT UPPER LOW MIGRATES SLOWLY EASTWARD TOWARD THE NORTHERN
   CA COAST. WITH LITTLE CHANGE IN THE OVERALL PATTERN…A
   MOIST/UNSTABLE AIRMASS AND MODERATE SOUTHERLY FLOW ALOFT WILL AGAIN
   FAVOR THE POSSIBILITY OF DAMAGING WINDS/HAIL WITH THE STRONGEST
   STORMS TUESDAY AFTERNOON/EARLY EVENING.
  
   ..GUYER.. 08/03/2009

Where is Jimmy Hoffa? The Deep’s Grifon was a true beauty of the sea, as was Jaqueline Bissett
July 31, 2009

Take That Boy! Take That Boy!
Shaw Keeps His Eyes Forward

Shaw Keeps His Eyes Forward

Shaw wasn't making up the stuff about the Griffon

Shaw wasn't making up the stuff about the Griffon

On this date in 1715, the French ship Grifon survived a hurricane off the coast of Florida. “So what,” you ask?Well, first off when the Spanish came to the new world they were looking for booty and plunder. They wanted to exploit the region for its natural resources and send it back to the king in Spain. So they would gather up all of their gold and trinkets and send them back on ships, usually in a convoy to protect against pirates. The Spaniards were rather formidable in those days and so it was suicide for any marauding pirates to try and take on a fleet of ships. On this date in 1715, 10 Spanish ships and one French ship made its way through the Straits of Florida where they ran into a hurricane. For some reason, the French ship sailed farther off the coast from the Spaniards. The Spanish ships, filled with hundreds of tons of gold and silver, sunk. The french ship survived. That French ship was the Grifon.

A Famous Scene from "The Deep"

A Famous Scene from "The Deep"

If you remember the movie The Deep then this ship is familiar to you. Its the ship that Robert Shaw decided had survived but later came back and may have sunk. I’ve provided a script from the scene below. But anyway, there are two things that come to mind from this. First is that Peter Benchley did a fabulous job of basing his fictitious tale on accurate history. I was very surprised that there really was a Grifon that really was the only ship to not sink in a hurricane. The other thing is that about 80% of that gold was recovered by the Spanish by 1716 but the rest did not come back to the surface until the mid 1960’s, which makes me wonder how much of Benchley’s script was really ficticious. Speaking of scripts, if you can take your eyes off of the photo of Bissett, you can read the script from The Deep, here.

Where Is He?

Where is Jimmy?

On This Date in 1975, Jimmy Hoffa disappeared.  He was last seen the previous day at a restaurant parking lot.  The movie Hoffa took many liberties. The Danny DeVito character was a fictitious character that was based on a conglomeration of other people. Here are the facts regarding the disappearance of James R. Hoffa.  There are many theories on what happened to him, but no one really knows.  Just a couple of days ago,  a story appeared that said a jawbone police found outside of Detroit probably was not that of the former Teamsters leader.  But, it goes to show that people and perhaps law enforcement remain on the case.  There have been stories that Hoffa is in the end zone of Giants Stadium.    There have been many searches, one in which the cops drained a lake. They didn’t find him.  I had a roommate from Pittsburgh whose father was a labor attorney.  He always told me that Hoffa’s body was in a road bed of some highway that I cannot recall.  Whatever, it is, speculation is that he was killed and it was a conspiracy, but by whom?  One of those stories that will probably never have a solution and therefore will never go away.

Ryan Makes A Point with Bob Hill

Ryan Makes A Point with Bob Hill

On This Date in 1990, Nolan Ryan won his 300th game by beating the Milwaukee Brewers 11-3. Here is his career biography. We used to go to every game he pitched when he was with the Astros There was this old man who always screamed out “Breeze him Nolie!” It seemed to reverberate around the Astrodome…that and the beer vendor yelling “coldest foam in the Dome!” I never liked his nickname “The Ryan Express.” We just called him “The Big Heater.” There are a bunch of Ryan tales I could tell but two stand out. Of course, one is represented by the photo on the left. Robin Ventura didn’t like the Ryan threw inside so the youngster charged the mound. Ryan was a big, tough guy and this guy about 20 years his junior didn’t scare him. Instead of backing up, he simply bull-dogged the kid by grabbing him about the neck and pummeling him. It was as if he said “come here, boy!” One of the greatest moments in baseball history. Then there was his final pitch. He tore a ligament in his arm. But, he decided to throw one more pitch. The radar gun clocked it at 98 mph. Nolan Ryan is listed among Texas’ Heroes along with the likes of Davy Crockett.

Rain Totals

Rain Totals

Missed it by That Much!

Missed it by That Much!

Weather Bottom Line:   As Maxwell Smart would say, “missed it by that much.”  I had said that the reports of rain and t’storms on Thursday evening were a bit overblown and I suspected that the widespread rain would be similar to what happened the previous day, which was wide spread rain after midnight toward day break.  Well, we did have scattered activity in the afternoon but the main blob did roll through much later.  But, it was over by about 4 AM.  So, I was off by a few hours.  Anyway, the map above shows the rain from midnight to midnight on the 30th and from Louisville to a few counties north, the totals were 2-4 inches and then a few counties south of Louisville got 2-3 inches.  My sunflowers are quite happy.

NAM rain 6Z Sunday

NAM rain 6Z Sunday

The pattern will be pretty regular in terms of consistency but not for the time of year.  Frontal activity is typically limited this time of year but we just had one come through and there will be another weak one on Saturday night.  The main action should be south and southwest of our area where the new front has grabbed on to the old front.  Then another weak front shows up on Wednesday night.  If this hold true, then we’ll probably see a repeat performance of scattered stuff on Saturday afternoon with the bulk of the widespread rain overnight on Saturday into Sunday morning.   Early Sunday church may be wet.  Then the same thing on Wednesday with some scattered stuff Wednesday evening with more widespread rain overnight Wednesday.  The fronts are weak so we don’t get overly cooler or drier behind them but this pattern does not lend itself to 90 degree temperatures any time soon.  For the first time in Louisville recorded history, we did not get to 90 degrees on any day in the month of July, which is quite remarkable. 

The Deep

Public Torture of a Dog Spurred Electrical Progress But Edison Shorted Out
July 30, 2009

Edison Kills Elephant As Part of Sales Pitch

Edison Kills Elephant As Part of Sales Pitch

On This Date in History:  In the late 19th century a technological competition was buzzing.  Thomas Edison favored the direct current (DC) as a method of transmitting electricity while rival George Westinghouse was in favor of the alternating current (AC).  AC was cheaper to transmit but the direct current was thought at the time to be safer.  In 1888, a self-taught consultant to all things electrical jumped into the arena of the battle of the titans, aka “the war of currents,” and things really got electrified.

Harold Pitney Brown

Harold Pitney Brown

Harold P. Brown was in favor of Edison’s DC method because of its safety.  To prove this, he took the Michael Vick approach.  He tortured dogs and other animals.  On this date in 1888, Brown went to Columbia University to make a demonstration.  He exposed a caged dog to 300 volts of DC, which was about the same AC voltage that the animal could withstand.  To better make his point, he increased the voltage; first to 400, then 500 and ultimately to 1000 volts.  The unfortunate chosen specimen was a large Newfoundland mix.  The beast howled in agony but survived the 1000 volt jolt.  That was not enough though.  Brown followed up by hooking up the poor dog to a 330 volt dose of AC and he fried.  The SPCA jumped in and called for a halt before another demonstration could be made.  Thus, this date in history was also the first time a dog was saved from public execution.   Needless to say, observers not only were not amused, they were downright angry.

Now, Brown didn’t know it but he was actually making a sales pitch because it just so happened that the state of New York had just formed a commission to find an alternative to hanging as a form of capital punishment.  The commission had considered electrocution and Brown’s demonstration got them so intrigued that they asked Edison for his opinion.  Since Edison was trying to promote electricity, particularly his “safe” DC current, he was against the use of electricity in bringing about a lethal sentence.  But, he opined that if they must do it, use Westinghouse’s version of the AC current.  A pretty slick way to promote his argument that AC was so dangerous that they used it in execution.

"improved" Brown Invention at Sing Sing

"improved" Brown Invention at Sing Sing

Just a few months later on January 1, 1889 New York became the first state to make electrocution the favored way to bring about death  to the condemned.  And who do you suppose they hired as their expert consultant.  Why, Harold P. Brown, of course!  And what did he do to earn his pay?  Why, he invented the electric chair.    Now, the law did not specify what  type of current was to be used. But,  Brown used AC with the hope that it would bring so much bad publicity to Westinghouse and his “executioners current.”  The first man to be executed by the electric chair was said to have been “Westinghoused.”   In spite of Brown using a Westinghouse AC dynamo for his chair, his scheme failed.  Because of the lower distribution costs, Westinghouse’s AC current eventually won the electric war.  Just in case over the last few months you forgot how capitalism works….the person who can deliver a service or product at a lower cost usually gets the job.  Besides, as long as the AC current is insulated and installed properly, it can be transmitted safely as it generally has been from the late 19th century to the present day.  There is at least one anti-Thomas Edison faction out there who claims that the only original invention of Thomas Alva Edison was the electric chair.  But, that charge is patently false.  That claim belongs to Harold P. Brown.

Artist's rendering of Kemler getting Char-Broiled

Artist's rendering of Kemler getting Char-Broiled

Now, the war of the currents wasn’t over.  See, a convicted murderer, William Kemler, was first to make it all the way to the electric chair.  None other than George Westinghouse tried to come to his rescue, testifying that electricution through the use of one of his AC dynamos hooked up to a chair was cruel and unsual punishment.  Who testified for the opposition?  Harold P. Brown and Thomas Alva Edison.  They convinced the  court everything was just fine and dandy and on August 6, 1890 Kemler became the first person to die in the electric chair.  While Kemler probably wasn’t feeling too cheerful, Westinghouse may have had the last laugh. 

deadjimYou see…they messed up the execution and Kemler did not  die with the first jolt of electricity.  Just like the Newfoundland, Kemler suffered in agony from an initial jolt.  His breathing had stopped but not his heart.  So, they gave him another jolt.  The autopsy showed the Kemler’s organs had carbonized.  In other words he burned to death…or was fried, if you like.  Again the public was not amused but Brown went back to the drawing board and “improved” his invention.  25 states followed up with adopting the electric chair as the primary form of execution.  By the late 20th century, just about all states (if not every one) had gotten rid of the electric chair because several courts had indeed ruled it was cruel and unusual punishment, as Westinghouse had said at the end of the 19th century.  Other states just did so because lethal injection was so much easier to sell to the public since it was like putting the old dog “to sleep.”  A humane death, unless you are the one who gets the same result you would get whether you’re hanged, shot, fried or injected with drugs. You’re still dead.   Edison still didn’t give up.  In 1901, he made a film that re-enacted the execution of the assassin of President McKinley.   He electrocuted an elephant on Jan 3 1904 and even filmed it (actual footage of elephant execution).  Didn’t change a thing except kill the elephant.

Thursday Evening

Thursday Evening

Weather Bottom Line:  Guess when the main wave came through on Wednesday.  By the time it got out of here it had dropped about 2 inches of rain from around 1 am to 9 am.  Then there was scattered activity later in the day.  I should think from the late night Wednesday data we have a similar situation ahead but reversed.  It would appear we have some relatively minor disturbances coming through the flow on Thursday and that should kick off scattered stuff, particularly in the afternoon.  I’ve some reports that say Thursday night we get another strong wave that will bring a lot of rain.  But, the way the data looks at this time, it looks more to me like we had on Wednesday which is a period of rain and t’storms after midnight on Thursday through sunrise Friday.  Either way, it still doesn’t look like any large scale severe events on the way, just more rain and continued mercury levels way below seasonal norms.

Ben Takes the Reigns at the Post Office
July 26, 2009

Young Printer Ben

Young Printer Ben

Franklin Stamp 1866-69

Franklin Stamp 1866-69

On This Date In History: The US Postal Service was founded on this date in 1775 with Ben Franklin as the first Postmaster General.   Franklin was the best choice since he had experience. See, he was the Postmaster General of the colonies(or deputy postmaster)  for the crown beginning in 1753.  Under Franklin, delivery time for mail was cut in half.  He is credited with great improvments and innovations that even continue to the present. 

Franklin Milepost Near Boston

Franklin Milestone Near Boston

He started by making a tour of all the postal facilities, which was a tough task at that time due to the difficulty of travel.  He had routes surveyed and found established the shortest and most efficient routes between cities.  He established milestones, which would be the precursor for the milemarkers on today’s highways,  and improved mail service between New York and Philadelphia by scheduling mail wagons for both night and day.  Of course, Franklin had other interests and used his position to take advantage of his position.   He was able to markedly increase the circulation of his Gazette (either Philadelphia Gazette or Pennsylvania Gazette, depending on the source) by delivering the paper using the postal service to make his delivery.  As it turns out, the previous postmaster of Philadelphia had been a competitor of Franklin’s so I guess turnabout is fair play. 

Surveyor Goddard's ID Pass signed by Franklin 1776

Surveyor Goddard's ID Pass signed by Franklin 1776

As crown postmaster, old Ben established the rate chart, which determined postal rates by distance and weight.  Today, the postal service has a new rate for a standard box in which weight is not determined.  But, in general, the practice of using weight to determine the rates continue and I haven’t figured out why because the volume of the package seems to be more important as it takes up more space.  Anyway, its all Franklin’s fault and the system he initiated became standard.  But, for all the good he did the crown, he was dismissed from his position in 1774 because the old King wasn’t too thrilled with his vocal enthusiasm for independence.  Fired from one job, he was quickly rehired by the fledgling colonial government on this date in 1775. 

I’ll let you look at the postal service history as told by the postal service. Its probably a good idea to look for outside sources if you want the whole story because the USPS will tell you what the USPS wants you to know. Anyway, here’s the link:

http://www.usps.com/history/history/his1.htm

An interesting tidbit is that the USPS is not a direct governmental agency anymore. It became and independent agency under the Executive Branch in 1971 and stopped receiving subsidies in the early 1980’s. I think that means it is not accurate to yell at the postman and tell him he works for you or that your tax dollars pay his salary.

A Forgettable Portrayal of the Bambino

A Forgettable Portrayal of the Bambino

On This Date In Baseball: Babe Ruth made his final public appearance in 1948 at the screening of The Babe Ruth Story. Ruth died 3 weeks later from throat cancer…or at least that is the official story. I would not be surprised to find that Ruth really died after watching actor William Bendix portrayal of Ruth in The Babe Ruth Story. If you’ve seen it, you know what I mean.

Ruth was known for many things but I didn’t know memorable quotes was one of them. Here is one worth remembering and shows that Ruth was indeed a winner and a champion.

“You just can’t beat the person who never gives up.”

 

HPC Sunday Evening

HPC Sunday Evening

 

Weather Bottom Line:  Frontal boundary finally plods through early Sunday but then sorta gets stuck.  On the one hand, we’ll get a reinforcement of the cooler than average temps.  I checked it out and through Saturday our average high has been just a shade under 81 degrees so far in July with no 90 degree days at all.  Not sure what the record coolest July is for our area but I’ll be we’re close.  With this front coming through and nothing really looking to alter the long wave pattern that rapidly, its a fair bet that we will not see 90 this month and that will be a first.  Now, this front will not get too far from us so I would not be surprised if there are some errant overrunning afternoon t’storms…well…not exactly overrunning but at least some elevated storms on the 850 boundary which will probably still be somewhere in the vicinity…most likely the southern part of the area.  Not really paying that much attention at this point (My attention is divided between the lightning outside and the Marx Brothers on the tube)  but it would seem that the boundary gets hung up near our area for a chunk of the week ahead so a risk of afternoon showers or t’showers will persist for much of the week with lower than average tempertures.

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