On This Date In History:Mark Twain lucked out on this date in 1866 when other’s luck went up in flames. Twain had gained some fame for his newspaper article The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. But, the 30-year-old former Sam Clemens didn’t think you were really worth anything in literature until you were published in a magazine or a book. He had wandered off to Hawaii. Meantime, the ship Hornet had left New York for San Francisco loaded with kerosene and candles. After 108 days at sea, a nitwit sailor ignited a barrel of kerosene and the ship went up like a torch. The crew got away in three life boats but only one was heard from again. Forty-Three days later, one lifeboat finished its 4,000 mile odyssey on the shores of Hawaii and Twain was there to get the story, though he was almost curtailed by a bad case of saddle sores. His problems behind him, Twain sent his story to the mainland and received $300. He then convinced two of the survivors to give him their diaries from which he wrote a more detailed article that was published in Harper’s Weekly. Twain had entered the world of literary writers, sorta. His hand writing was so bad the publishers credited Mark Swain.
Another Ironic Day in History: On This date in 1947, the Japanese new constitution took effect. It was largely written by the American Caesar, General Douglas MacArthur who was the defacto head of state of Japan following the Second World War. When MacArthur was charged with the rebuilding of the country, he did so in his own image, which of course is the American image. He allowed them to keep the emperor but made Hirohito acknowledge his mortality. The whole effort seemed to work as Japan has enjoyed prosperity ever since. The Polish people weren’t so fortunate.
On this date in 1791, inspired by the United States Constitution of 1787, the people of Poland got their own form of freedom with their new Constitution that gave the people rights much like the Americans. Like the Japanese and MacArthur, the Polish Constitution was written largely by its king who recognized that the best government was the kind that worked for the people. But, it didn’t last too long because the Monarchies of Poland’s neighbors didn’t share the ideals of egalitarianism. A Prussian statesman said, “How can we defend our state . . . against a numerous and well-governed nation.” It is interesting that one might suggest that the US strategy in the Middle East uses this kind of thinking which is that if one puts a democracy in the middle of the theocratic or autocratic nations, that democracy will break out in the entire region and terrorists states generally do not rise from democracies. But, this little story tells us that the surrounding countries are quite aware of the potential influence of a nearby democracy. In the case of Poland, Russia, Austria and Prussia all invaded and by 1795, Poland was no more. Once US troops leave Iraq, it will be interesting to see if the neighbors allow the nation to flourish or if there is enough fear of a US retribution to keep that from happening.
Either way, it’s a good thing for the United States that we had an ocean between us and those European monarchies.
Weather Bottom Line: Well, we made it through Derby Day with just a sloppy track but one that proved fast enough for the 50 to 1 shot to win the race going away. The front slipped far enough south that the showers went south with it before the first post time and it stayed cloudy and cool but no rain for the rest of the way. There were some light showers early Sunday morning but the day remained largely dry, in spite of a tv forecast that called for 1-2 inches in our area today. The front is still south and I think it will stay there. A wave runs up along the front late Sunday into Sunday night and that should bring some rain back our way. Monday morning there may be some residual rain around but we should dry out as the day goes on leaving us with a good looking Tuesday.
Tuesday night a low develops in the Southern Plains and will grab on to the most recent frontal boundary and bring it back to the Ohio Valley on Wednesday as another cold front comes down from the northwest. I would say that strong t’storms appear possible Wednesday afternoon or evening. Thursday shapes up pretty nicely and then we repeat the Wednesday situation on Friday.