Archive for November, 2009

War on Christmas From All Sides; Bishop Cries Nixes Christmas Carols, Town Goes Faux for Christmas Tree
November 30, 2009

The War on Christmas!

Would Dave and Bing Be Protested Off the Stage Today?

Bah Humbug!  When stories arise about people complaining about “Christmas” parades being cancelled or called “Holiday” parades, I have wondered how many people who say that efforts are being made to take the Christ out of Christmas realize that their parades did that long ago.  While the parades say Christmas, rarely do they feature Jesus, angels, a manger scene, Mary and Joseph or anything else that resembles the true story of the Savior’s birth.  Instead, they have Santa Claus, reindeer, toys, presents, snow flakes, horns and other things that are more associated with the commercial, secular ideals of the Christmas holiday.  So, one could say that a name change is more honest as it seems to reflect what the parades generally show.  Truth be told, the story of Christ was probably only rarely a part of most parades and if you want to really make it a Christmas Parade, then you must remove Santa Claus.  But, before I paint this with too broad a brush, there is a town in Scotland that not only returned to having Christmas the centerpiece of their winter festival, it also has religious leaders speaking on hand to speak of the true meaning of Christmas.  Perhaps, they should speak to a Church of England Bishop. 

You kids stop that singing! It's Nonsense!

Now, a British Bishop is pooh-poohing traditional Christmas Carols.  Rt. Rev. Nick Baines says that the traditional carols take away from the true meaning of Christmas and attempts to turn Jesus into a Father Christmas figure.  The Church of England recently published his book, Why Wish You a Merry Christmas which says that the traditional songs bring forth an ideal of Victorian sentiments instead of the Biblical account of the birth of Christ.  He goes on to say that the words of Away in a Manger are nonsense.  He says that All Come All Ye Faithful is foolishness because the people who came, the shepherds, were not faithful but instead were considered the “great unwashed” and the wise men were “outside the covenant people of God.”  I kinda side with the music director at the Eton College who says, “They bring a smile to people’s faces. There’s nothing wrong with feeling like children at Christmas.” 

Reason for the Season No Matter Who Says What

Come on…aren’t people on both sides of the spectrum getting a bit too overzealous?  Let it be a Christmas Parade.  But, if the nincompoops who have nothing better to do than act offended by a title and wish to hurt the feelings of the majority of people are going to raise a ruckous, then so what?  And if people come together for Christmas and sing carols that aren’t altogether accurate, then let it go.  It brings a fellowship that might not otherwise happen and perhaps may even bring people to inquire and discover the true meaning of the birth of who historians Joyce Salisbury and Dennis Sherman callbrought about “the most influential religious transformation in the ancient West.”

Doesn't look Bad at Night

And you know what, when everyone agrees on a secular symbol to be put in a public square, then there is still arguing and fighting.  In England, the Dorset town of Poole.  They traditionally placed a Norway fir in the town square at a cost of about 500 pounds.  Remember, there is a global recession.  But so what?  The town pooh-bahs decided that the real tree was dangerous.  They said it had to be cordoned off to keep people at a distance. They say that there was always a danger that it would fall down with high winds.  They say it’s a liability issue and that it costs an additional 3500 pounds to decorate.  Now, keep in mind that the town leadership cut back on Christmas lights this year to save money.   So, the wise leadership decided to spend 14,000 pounds on a phony tree.   People are not happy.  One guy says that its okay at night when all you see is lights, but that it “just looks weird during the day.”  Others liken it to a giant green traffic cone, something from Dr. Who, a witches hat or that “it looks like something that just landed from outer space.” 

The sage of common sense

Presumably, the new fake tree costs  the same to decorate as the old tree.  Why the fake tree is less likely to be blown over by winds than the real McCoy is beyond me.   And, the time when they have a shortage of cash is now so the idea of spending 14,000 pounds today to save money later seems a bit off the mark.  It sorta reminds me of the idea that in Vietnam, a village had to be destroyed in order to save it.   To quote another source of wisdom, “can’t we all get along?”

Weather Bottom Line:   The high Sunday was 60.  We won’t see that again any time soon.  For a longer discussion, look at the previous post as it still applies.  Rain will be in the area probably through midday Monday but big t’storms along a cold front to the south will cut off a lot of the moisture.  Knock about 15 degrees for Monday afternoon. Then we move back to the 50’s for midweek.  End of week looks to hold for highs in the 30’s.  Hey, it happens but don’t let local weather people calling it “bitter cold” fool you. I just saw one call it a “bitter blast” at the same time it was described as “cooler air.”    Also, don’t get too worked up when they ballyhoo snow for Thursday.  It’s not a significant event.

Presidential Election Leads to Fallen Candidate’s Death in “Insanity”
November 29, 2009

Tragic Rapid Demise of Presidential Candidate


Greeley portrayed reaching across graves of Andersonville

On This Date in History:  In the presidential election of 1872,  New York Tribune founder and editor Horace Greeley faced off against incumbent, Ulysses S. Grant.  Greeley never saw a social reform that he didn’t like and he actually was nominated by a group known as the Liberal Republicans who split from the main party that nominated President Grant.  In somewhat of a surprise, the Democrats nominated Greeley, who once said that “All Democrats may not be rascals, but all rascals are Democrats.”  But Greeley was in favor of amnesty for all ex-Confederates and for withdrawl of all federal troops from the southern states.  And at that point, the Democrats were in a favor of anyone who held such views. 

Greeley Kneeling to the Democrat Devil

But, Greeley was hammered as a candidate.  Editors and cartoonists lampooned his rumpled clothes, chin whiskers and baby face.  They piled on him for his support of prohibition, vegetarianism and visions of communes.  Greeley openly wondered if he was running for the penitentiary or the presidency.  On top of his sensitivity to savage public criticism and ridicule, he was dealing with an ailing wife.  In September 1872 he remained in New York at his wife bedside and slept little until her death on October 30, 1872 which was the week before the election.

Greeley and his running mate depicted as Doomed

Grant won 30 out of 36 states.  Grant received 286 electoral votes and Greeley just 66.  Officially though, Greeley only received 3 electoral votes.  That is because on this date in 1872, Horace Greeley died which was prior to the official voting by the electoral college.  Following Greeley’s death, 63 of the electors scattered their votes among four other candidates.  Perhaps this is symbolic of the tragic end to Horace Greeley. Following the devastating loss of his wife, the public flogging by his detractors during the campaign and his overwhelming defeat at the polls, Greeley was a broken man; and things got worse.  He tried to resume control of the Tribune but was pushed aside by acting editor Whitelaw Reid.  Instead of welcoming Greeley back, Reid put a box on the front page of the paper that mocked Republican office seekers who had sought Greeley’s assistance.  When Greeley offered a response, Reid refused to publish it in the paper.  And get this…Whitelaw Reid not only had been invited to join the Tribune by Greeley, but he also had been Greeley’s campaign manager!   Just three weeks after the election that may have elevated him to the top office in the land, Horace Greeley died; his mind so broken that his condition was described as “insane.”

Today, we say that politics is “rough and tumble” but I don’t think we’ve seen anything like the 1872 election which one might say, cost Horace Greeley his life.

Sunday Evening

Weather Bottom Line:   Well, phooey on me.  Not only did we warm up after a chilly start on Saturday, we got to the low 60’s which I had said would be tough to do.  Oh well, better to miss when its a few degrees warmer than the opposite. Otherwise, everything else is on track and its not all that good.  I was correct in saying that Saturday would be the warmest we would see for many days.  Sunday with clouds increasing and thickening, we will not be as warm as Saturday but I do think we stay dry during the day.  Sunday night, a cold front comes through and we get rain and showers will carry over into Monday.   Look for sharply colder condition on Monday with highs only in the low 40’s…maybe mid 40’s for southern parts of the viewing area. 

Freezing line at all levels at Gulf Coast by Friday morning

Tuesday we get a reprieve though temperatures will be seasonally cool.  A cut off low has been lurking in the Southwest US and a strong front with a deep trof will pick that up and on Wednesday, it moves across Texas, picks up Gulf moisture and moves quickly into the Southeast US.  Our rain chances will consequently go up with cloudy conditions and the front that picks up that cut off low will be making its way through the area.  Look for your local forecast to once again mention snow.  While this time around it may be a bit more possible than last week, it is still largely irrelevant.  Temperatures will be cold but above freezing. Ground temperatures certainly won’t be cold enough for any accumulation.  In my mind, its simply a conversation piece at best.  But, the latter part of the week probably won’t see temperatures much above 40 with some maybe not getting above 40 until Saturday and even then it won’t be much above 40.

Farting Pig, Thirsty Camels Gain Attention of Australian Officials; Pre-Global Warming Storm Devastates London
November 28, 2009

Weird Critter Stories in Australia

Camel Convention

What is going in the land down under. Parts of Australia have been suffering from a terrible drought. That has created a fire hazard and also brought out the camels. Yes, camels. Back in the 19th century, camels were imported into Australia.  There was a need for the beasts of burden for commercial and expeditionary ventures in the somewhat arid Western Australia.   Since that time, the offspring of those original visitors have multiplied. Even efficient camels need water and, with the severity of the current dry spell. a herd of at least 3000 camels has descended on a western Australia town to forage for water. They are causing so much damage and creating so much mayhem, Australian authorities are taking drastic steps to fend off the assault of camels on an Aussie town in the Northern Territory.

Contributor to Global Warming?

While the government deals with the camels, a fire department had to deal with a gas leak. They were called to a home expecting to find a leaking gas cylinder. Instead, firemen near Bendigo, Australia found the source of the gas was a pig. The fat porker is a family pet and firemen on the scene concluded that the gas odor in the area came from the pig when they heard it squeal loudly from one end and then play a not so melodious tune from the other.  Fire Chief Peter Harkins described the sound a “very full on.”  Unlike the family of balloon boy in the United States, the owners of the pig refused media requests for their story or for photographs of Australia’s most famous farting pig.  There is no regarding the pig’s effects on global warming or if the family must purchase carbon credits to offset the gas release by the family pet.

Great Storm of 1703 By J.S. Miller

Great Storm of 1703 By J.S. Miller

Eddystone Lighthouse Before Storm

Eddystone Lighthouse Before 1703 Storm

On This Date in History: On this date in 1703, an unusual and powerful storm finally ended in England. In it’s wake, some 10,000 to 30,000 were dead, including about 8,000 sailors aboard part of the English fleet anchored just offshore the island nation. Winds were well over hurricane force and apparently the storm stuck around for about two weeks. Claims were that the Thames river had 6 foot waves and 5000 homes were destroyed along the river on which London is built. The author of Robinson Crusoe,

Last Glimpse of Eddystone Lighthouse 1703

Last Glimpse of Eddystone Lighthouse 1703

Daniel Defoe, reported a tornado that “snapped the body of an oak.” Henry Winstanley had designed and built the first Eddystone Lighthouse at Plymouth in 1696. Just a few weeks before the storm he expressed his desire that he be in his creation during the greatest storm of all time so he could see the effect on his tower. In the be-careful-what-you-wish-for department, he and those who resided there went down with the lighthouse when it was smashed to bits.

The details of the storm are varied. Some say the death toll was just 15,000 other 9000. The date can’t even be totally ascertained because of something about the switch between the Julian and Gregorian calenders. Either way, it was a huge storm; hurricane force winds, thousands dead, thousands of livestock dead, tornadoes, reports of a ship being lifted 800 feet inland by a waterspout and a cow getting lifted into a tree. Thousands of trees down across the country, monstrous waves….it was a doosey. Here is an account from The Weather Doctor Almanac. Seems just as reliable as other sources.

Can you imagine if that happened today? It happened 300 years ago, so it’s happened before. But, you can

Great Storm of 1987 Was Not Anything New For England

Great Storm of 1987 Was Not Anything New For England

bet that Global Warming would get the blame this time around. Never mind that this wild storm happened all by itself during what was called the “mini-ice age” which was a 300-400 year period of extremely cold global temperatures that was partly the primer for the emigration to the New World. Nope, you know that Global Warming would be the culprit. Why do I know this with a certainty? Because the press has already reported it. On the 300th anniversary in 2003, the BBC put out this report, pointing to a storm that was not as strong but still devastating in 1987 as proof. Proof as what? That a storm reported in 1703 was still possible today?

So Cal 1938 Storms...Would A Such A Storm Today Be Blamed on Global Warming Even Though Such an Event Occured 70 Years Ago?

So Cal 1938 Storms...Would A Such A Storm Today Be Blamed on Global Warming Even Though Such an Event Occured 70 Years Ago?

This is the type of nonsense that really hacks me as a meteorologist and historian. I think the anthropogenic global warming issue should be studied closely but, when the press and proponents put out this type of nonsense, it really hurts their credibility. Hurricane Katrina comes to mind. After that storm someone actually said that it was due to Global Warming. Never did the press point out that New Orleans did not get hit by a hurricane, Mississippi did. They did not point out that it was a strong 130 mph hurricane that had a huge storm surge but followed almost the exact same path as the incredibly powerful Hurricane Camille in 1969 with 200 mph winds. It was not unprecedented and, if one were to be basic and silly, one could draw the juvenile conclusion that Global Warming was making hurricanes weaker because Camille was was stronger than Katrina, followe the same path and was 36 years earlier. That is just as foolish a statement as claiming that Katrina was caused by Global Warming.

So, what does the Great 1703 Storm teach us? That large, powerful storms and unusual weather has been happening on the earth for a long, long time. Unexpectedly strong and severe situations will occur again, Global Warming or not. Beware of sources and media reports that try to offer such limited and simple evidence for climate changes of any kind and forever one should hold any reports from those sources with skepticism.

Freezing Line at all levels well south of Ohio Valley by Friday Morning

Weather Bottom Line:  The past two weekends, Snow White and I have been graced with the hospitality of the Justice Racing Stables.  We were the guests at the upstart horse racing venture at Churchill Downs and John C. Nolley could not have been nicer.  In fact, every single person whom we encountered who was associated with the group was just outstanding.  I’ve never had a more favorable experience and impression of horse racing as I did with the folks at Justice Racing.  We really appreciate it.  Mr. Nolley has named me the meteorologist of Justice Racing.  I informed him that the quality of my forecasts will be directly tied to the value of his checks.

I told Mr. Nolley not to believe the calls for highs in the upper 40’s Thanksgiving or Friday.  I was a bit surprised though by how much sunshine we had in the afternoon.  Saturday, it looks as if a warm front comes through as ridging builds in pretty quickly.  This should result in temperatures in the afternoon about 10 to 15 degrees warmer than Friday afternoon and will probably be the warmest we see for several days.  A front comes down on Sunday night.  Clouds will be increasing on Sunday so it will be a few degrees cooler on Sunday than Saturday.  Let’s say mid 50’s.  Rain chances shoot upward on Sunday night into early Monday.  The front leaves behind a big fat cut-off low in the SW United States but another big trof in the northern jet stream will come out of the northwest and pick up that low.  As the second front comes in mid week, the cut-off low will get picked up, move into southeast Texas and then up into the Southeast US.  That will mean another chance for rain and also a further fall in the mercury.  Highs Monday-Wed will be in the 40’s but by Thursday and Friday we may be talking about highs in the 30’s.

Studies Show Referees and Umpires Are Biased. Are Sports Taken Too Seriously?
November 27, 2009

Players Had Reason To Question Donaghy's Calls

Have you ever wondered if the referees in sporting contests were on the take or showing a bias toward one team?  Maybe its not as far fetched as one might think and its not a thing of the past.  Recently, an NBA referee was put in jail for conspiring with gamblers to fix games.  After he went to prison, former NBA ref Tim Donaghy was reportedly beaten in prison with speculation that the beatings may have been payback from organized crime.  Guess he shouldn’t have sung.   Now, we find that a couple of professors did a study that was published in the Journal of Sports Sciences.  They concluded that during the 2004-2005 NCAA basketball season, referees showed a bias in the calls that they made, though, in some instances there was a variance in the bias shown given the situation of a given game.  This comes on the heels of another study that shows NBA refs are biased in their calls due to race.

Study Shows Coaches May Have Reason to Be Upset

For a long time, people have claimed refs from one conference might favor a team from their conference.  That is why in bowl games, typically the refs are from a conference that is not associated with either team.   And then there is baseball.  Major League Baseball rotates their umpires from city to city so that there is no risk of cries of an arbitor being a “homer.”  Many people have complained that the umps favor the Yankees so that they can bring their huge TV market into the World Series each year.  There is even an article that charges MLB itself to use its political arm to favor the Yankees!  Then again, Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia seems to think the umps are biased in favor of the Red Sox.  Funny how no one thinks the umps favor the Astros.  Anyway, while there is no study to support the notion that the Yankees or Red Sox Nation is favored that I am aware of, academics have done a study that claims umpires make biased calls based on race.  All of this may raise eyebrows or raise questions. Milton Bradley’s question is why are the umps all against him?  But, I have a question.  Shouldn’t academics be doing research that is a little more important than using money to determine if the refs need glasses?  With universities seeming to be more inclined to entertain the alumni rather than educate students, it almost seems as if the bar for higher education is getting lower and lower.

Just Another Day at the Old Ballpark

The correct conclusion of all such studies probably should be that the refs are human and are subject to all human failings on and off the field of play.  But, perhaps there is some redeeming reason for conducting such studies because sometimes fans viewpoint that a particular referee is biased can lead to violence.  Just this past August, a referee in Kenya was killed on the field by a mob of irate fans at a youth soccer game.  In California, a football referee was attacked by fans and a volleyball referee was assaulted by the president of the high school booster club.  Oh, those crazy fans.  But what about players?  Players often say that they want to “kill the ref” but for real?  A soccer player’s threat to kill a referee was once taken quite seriously.  Do players actually follow up on such threats?  In 2004, the Philadelphia Flyers drafted Ladislav Scurko  in the 6th round.  They may have to wait a couple of decades to see a return on that draft pick.  See, the Slovakian hockey player is in jail for killing a referee.  Now, there are those in society that suggest that allowing citizens to be armed actually deters crime.  So, is it a good idea to have refs packin’ heat?  Back in 1999, a referee did exactly that and successfully defended himself to the demise of a player.  It seems in South Africa, a soccer player pulled a knife on a referee who promptly pulled his pistol and shot the player to death.  What was a player doing with a knife on the field and what was a referee doing with a gun on the field?

Kids Learn From Parents

Cricket Umpire Target of Fans

The fact that there are academics spending time and money studying the calls of referees and that there is violence in the stands at sporting events all around the world and assaults and murder taking place due to sporting events doesn’t need a study.  It is obvious that people on this planet are taking sports way too seriously.  It’s supposed to be “just a game”  but to many that is not the case at all.  One can speculate that the big money in sports is the cause.  But what about those parents and fans at high school events that attack the ref?  No money there.  But there is an increasing number of cases of violence by and among parents at youth league games.  Does the actions of parents affect the kids?  A player in Little League sucker punched an opposing player during the post game handshakes the kids go through to try and teach sportsmanship.   Maybe youth league experience is what taught Oregon star running back LaGarrette Blount to punch out a Boise State player on national TV after a game.  Just think how productive people would be and how robust the economy might be if people would take their jobs as seriously as they seem to take sports.  Perhaps all of this is just a sign of a broader decline in civilization and all participants, fans and officials are human.  Historically, humans seem to have a proclivity for violence rather than peace.  How about examining the true value of sport in society, good and bad?  Now that would be a study.  Trouble is, no one would do anything about it.  Let the games begin.

Monday Morning

Weather Bottom Line:  Looks like I was at least partially right.  I had said I didn’t see how we got to the mid to upper 40’s on Thanksgiving or Friday and that some people may not get out of the 30’s on Thanksgiving.  By afternoon on Thursday, it was in the upper 30’s in many areas and no one got out of the low 40’s.  There were sprinkles but no snow.  And even if anyone saw snow Thursday night, not too many people would believe them because it was worthless if it happened.  I would think that on Friday, low to mid 40’s will work and so it may be a few degrees warmer than I had thought but I still think that its possible that low 40’s may be the max for many people.  High pressure moves to our south moves east and we get  a return flow for the weekend bringing the mercury up to the mid 5o’s each day.  Really not a bad weekend.  Late Sunday, clouds will increase with the approach of another front.  That will probably bring some rain Sunday night into Monday.  The rest of the week looks chilly with most people never getting out of the 40’s each afternoon and overnight lows in the low to mid 30’s.  Later in the week could be interesting as a cut off low in the southwest wanders around and picks up some moisture from the Gulf.

A Kentuckian Proposed the First Thanksgiving and Another Pulled off the Greatest Diamond Scam
November 26, 2009

Not the 1st Thanksgiving?

Not the 1st Thanksgiving?

First Thanksgiving: Most people enjoy  Thanksgiving Dinner and we all probably learned in grade school that the first Thanksgiving involved the Pilgirms and the native Indians of North America. But, the real first official Thanksgiving Holiday was proclaimed on October 3,1863 by President Lincoln, calling for an annual day of national Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November. The president used the opportunity to thank the Union Army for the reversal of fortune in the Union effort by the victory at Gettysburg. President Washington had declared a “national day of thanksgiving and prayer” in 1789, but it didn’t become an annual event. In fact, Thomas Jefferson thought that such national events of demonstration towards a deity was not appropriate. Other presidents agreed until President Lincoln’s decree. President Franklin Roosevelt tried what I call a political move in 1939 when he moved the holiday to the third Thursday. However, I suppose its plausible to argue that Lincoln’s initial declaration was rooted in politics. Anyway, FDR was hoping to extend the Christmas shopping season. I guess he thought that by moving Thanksgiving he could pull the wool over American’s eyes and use the psychology of calling a different day Thanksgiving to get them to spend more money. Anyway, Congress had enough of the foolishness and in 1941 put the national holiday back to where President Lincoln put it in the first place.

Diamond Scam Pulled Off My Enterprising Kentuckians

Diamond Scam Pulled Off My Enterprising Kentuckians

Charles Tiffany Duped By Kentuckians

Charles Tiffany Duped By Kentuckians

On This Date in History: In the second half of the 19th century, there was gold fever out west. Lot’s of
swindling was going on. A typical scam was for someone to “salt” a worthless mine by tossing out some gold dust or small nuggets so that somone else would think that there was lots of gold there and they would buy it for an exhorbitant sum.

William C Ralston Duped By Kentuckians

William C Ralston Duped By Kentuckians

A man from LaRue County Kentucky, Philip Arnold, had gotten into the prospecting game for about 20 years without much success. In 1870, the poorly educated Arnold got a job as an assistant bookkeeper in San Francisco for a drill maker that used industrial grade diamonds on drill bits. No one seemed to notice but, for an accountant, Arnold took quite an interest in the diamonds as he read many academic sources on the subject.

In 1871, San Francisco businessman George D. Roberts was sitting in his office one night when two dirty men entered carrying a bag. They said what they had inside was something of great value but they could not deposit it in the bank due to the late hour. At first, they were reluctant to say what it was but one of the men let slip that they were uncut diamonds. Roberts tried, but they refused to say from where it came. The two men were Philip Arnold and his cousin John Slack. Arnold later told the Louisville Courier Journal that he told Roberts not to tell anyone. Arnold knew that the best way to spread a tale was to tell someone not to tell anyone else. As soon as the pair had left his office, Roberts was out the door to tell a big shot financier named William Ralston.

Asbury Harpending Duped By Kentuckians Then Wrote About It

Asbury Harpending Duped By Kentuckians Then Wrote About It

This is a legnthy and interesting story (worth the read if you’ve got the time) but the long and short of it is that Ralston got together some other bigshots and started the New York Mining and Commercial Company with $10 million in investors money. Among the investors were prominent politicians, military leaders and businessmen, including Asbury Harpending who wrote extensively of the story in his biography. Arnold and Slack first took a blindfolded expert to the site in Colorado where the man “found” all sorts of diamonds..and rubies..and emeralds! When they returned to San Francisco, Ralston offered to buy them out but the pair of Kentucky hoodwinkers weren’t as dumb as the city slickers thought. They took $50,000 up front. They then went to London where they bought a large volume of low end jewels…so crummy they were generally considered not jewels…for $20,000. They returned to the states and salted the site a couple of more times to convince more experts. The Ralston group even took 10% of the take to Tiffany’s in New York for appraisal and were told that the $20,000 worth of stuff bought by Arnold and Slack in London was worth $1.5 million. So, they ended up paying Arnold and Slack $600,000 (1872 dollars). They disappeared. News of the big jewel find got out and piqued the attention of a young member of the geographical survey who was assigned to that region. Clarence King and his crew were extremely skeptical and decided to investigate. The found the site and determined that it was a fraud. On This Date in 1872, Clarence King became an international celebrity when his story was printed in the San Francisco Evening Bulletin which dubbed it as The Great Diamond Hoax. (Here is another version of the story along with evidence produced by King)

Clarence King Exposed Kentuckians But Died A Pauper

Clarence King Exposed Kentuckians But Died A Pauper

Arnold was tracked down in Elizabethtown where he had started a bank and was living the life of luxury. The good old Commonwealth of Kentucky, for unknown reasons, decided to protect one of its boys and refused to extradite him. Arnold paid $150,000 in exchange for no charges being filed but couldn’t enjoy the remaining part of his fortune for long because he died of pneumonia in 1878. His cousin, John Slack, apparently was not the brains of the operation because he was last reported to be a coffin maker in New Mexico. Then again, maybe he was smarter than I give him credit for because his fate is unknown…maybe he gave everyone the slip and lived like a king.

Speaking of King….Clarence became the first director of the US Geological Survey and became friends and hobknobbed with a host of international dignitaries, politicians and celebrities. He became a celebrated author. He had it all, but apparently not enough. He left the Geological Survey and tried getting rich in mining, ranching and even banking. He lost all of his money, most of his friends and much of his reputation. He died at the age of 60 in poverty and debt of tuberculosis in 1901 in Phoenix in a small brick house.

So, it would appear that the whistleblower who gained fame and prominence was the biggest loser in this tale. He had it all and lost it all and more. The brains of the caper, Arnold, did okay but didn’t get to enjoy his larceny for long. History seems to suggest that John Slack was also a loser because the last thing they know about him was he was making coffins in New Mexico. But, I would submit that its possible the nit-wit cousin may have been the big winner and the smartest of them all, pulling off one final scam before disappearing from view. As Hank Williams, Jr sang, A Country Boy Can Survive.

D.B. Cooper Disappearance, Fact and Fiction. DB Cooper is Alice Cooper?
November 24, 2009

Mystery Man Dead or Alive

DB Cooper: Mystery Man Dead or Alive

Old 727 With Rear Stairs Extended

Old 727 With Rear Stairs Extended

On This Date in History: On this date in 1971, one of the biggest law enforcement mysteries in US history began. A man, commonly referred to as DB Cooper, hijacked a Northwest Orient Airlines Boeing 727. The Boeing 727 was a relatively small jet that featured a stairway that lowered from the rear of the plane near the tail and was often used for short hauls. This particular flight was to go from Portland to Seattle but this guy, wearing wrap around sunglasses showed a flight attendant a brief case filled with red sticks, some wires and a battery, said it was a bomb. He claimed it was a bomb and he wanted $200,000 and four parachutes. He got what he wanted and he let the 36 passengers on board off the plane while in the ground in Seattle. They took off again with Cooper and a flight attendant and he ordered the pilot to fly to Mexico City. At 8:13 pm, not long after take off, the pressure in the plane fell, indicating that the rear door had been opened. Cooper was gone. He had jumped over very very rough terrain, in the dark, at ten thousand feet, in a rain storm from a jet flying at nearly 200 mph. Survival of a jump like that would be difficult to say the least. Cooper’s remains nor Cooper have ever been found.

Cooper Ticket Receipt

Cooper Ticket Receipt

Many things have changed since then. First off, crooks are not going to go to all that risk and trouble for a lousy $200,000. I mean, ballplayers make more than that before the first pitch, the opening kickoff or before the ref tosses up the opening tip. Even the President makes twice as much as that. Northwest Orient is now Northwest Airlines which is owned by Delta Airlines. The Boeing 727 is not used much any more but you can’t open the rear door while its in flight any more. That changed not long after Cooper’s escape. Also security measures for air travel began escalating after Cooper’s achievement.

Remains Of Cooper Money

Remains Of Cooper Money

He also inspired some copy cats…though not very good ones. A guy named McCoy tried the same thing four months after Cooper but asked for $500,000 but still wanted the 4 parachutes. He got failed and went to prison. He was shot while trying a prison escape. Then a guy named Tripp boarded the same flight that Cooper did…but he only asked for $100,000 and 4 parachutes. The flight attendant slipped him 3 valiums. He reduced his demands to 3 cheeseburgers and a rental car. After being released on probation, Tripp tried again..same flight…same routine only this time his “bomb” was a shoebox instead of a briefcase. He wanted to be flown to Afghanistan. Instead, he was shot and killed by the FBI in a standoff. By this time, it sounds as if J. Edgar Hoover and the G-Men were getting pretty tired of the hijack stuff.

Was It the Purser?

Was It the Purser?

In 1980, a kid found $5800 in deteriorating bills along the Columbia River in Washington. It was in the form of a bunch of stacks of $20 bills that were in a state of deterioration. The bills were later identified as part of the loot. But, what happened to the rest of it? In March of 2008, the case got new life when a parachute was found when a guy plowing his field came upon it. As it turned out, the chute was later found to not be the one from Cooper. A couple of things have not changed. Reporters still get stuff wrong but don’t correct the record. Apparently, it was initially stated that the man in question was Dan Cooper, as was clearly printed on his ticket. But, a reporter somehow thought they said DB Cooper and so that moniker stuck. The other thing that remains the same is that no one knows what happened to DB Cooper. Below are some stories that have people claiming to be Cooper, but the FBI dismisses all reported leads.

Mr Green Jeans or DB Cooper?

Alice Cooper: Mr Green Jeans or DB Cooper?

In fact, it is kinda interesting that they have eliminated their original idea that he was an experienced parachute expert. That is because that no expert would attempt such a jump under those circumstances or really any circumstance. Besides that…the man who jumped from the plane was wearing loafers. No self respecting parachutist jumps from 10,000 feet in the dark, in a thunderstorm from a plane doing 200 mph over some of the roughest geography in the country wearing penny loafers.

When I was a kid, there was a rumor going around that Alice Cooper was really Mr. Green Jeans from Captain Kangaroo. I think Alice Cooper just may be DB Cooper.

Here are some stories in which people claim that they know who Cooper was…including one that claims he was really a she who used to be a he…yes indeed…DB Cooper had a sex change to a woman before she hijacked the plane dressed as a man.

Time Line and Facts Regarding DB Cooper

Cooper and interesting sidelights and circumstance

DB Cooper was a woman posing as a man, whom she used to be before the operation

Duane Weber Kinda Looked like him

It Was the Purser!!

FBI Separates Facts From Fiction-Still Needs Help Finding a Real Suspect

NAM 2pm Surface Temps Thursday Claims 42 degrees


Weather Bottom Line:  So far, the forecast is right on track.  It was cloudy on Monday with a very isolated light shower or two.  Look for much of the same on Tuesday though late day there may be a bit more in the way of light shower activity.  I still think that Wednesday will be fine but on Thanksgiving Day, the bottom drops out as a big fat trof drops in.  It will be chilly.  Still think that snow on Thursday night is a computer’s fantasy and even if it does happen, it would be a conversation piece and nothing more; it would be a few flakes and the ground too warm.  Friday will also be chilly.  I’m not sold on the idea of us making the mid 40’s either day.  We rebound somewhat going through the weekend.

JFK Assassination; November 22 is a pretty gloomy day in history
November 22, 2009


On This Date in History: This is a pretty lousy day in history. On November 22, 1963 President John F. Kennedy became the fourth American president to fall to an assassin. The first was Abraham Lincoln in 1865, followed by James A. Garfield in 1881 and then William McKinley in 1901. There are many many websites dedicated to the notion that the president’s murder was a conspiracy.  But, it’s tough to find out about the answers to those theories.  Here is a website dedicated to debunking all of the conspiracy theories.  Just click on the highlighted “fact” in question and then you be the judge.  In any event, let us hope that this list remains at four forever.

NOT the 1st President

NOT the 1st President

The man whom some consider the first President of the United States died on this day in 1783. John Hanson was the first president of the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation. The Articles of Confederation came into being while he was the President of the Congress in session from 1781 to 1782, during which time General Washington was defeating the British at Yorktown in October 1781. Calling Hanson the first president is pretty nonsensical. He was more like the prime minister. The separate, executive position of president didnt even exist until the Constitution in 1789. General Washington served as the nation’s first president from 1789 to 1797.

Socialist In Name Only?

Socialist In Name Only?

Novelist Jack London died on this date in 1916. He was just 40 years old and died of kidney disease derived from unknown origins. One fairly reliable source claims that reports that London was an alcoholic are unfounded. What is telling though about London is that he was an avowed socialist yet, he spent a huge wad of cash on a huge house in California. True socialist. The bourgeoisie gets all of the money and luxury while the peasants and proletariat share the rest. In theory thats not how socialism is supposed to work but in practice that’s usually the result. A small group of elite “haves” preaching hypocrisy to the masses, the “have-nots.”

Wild Outfit Even by Today's Standards

Wild Outfit Even by Today's Standards

Mae West died on this date in 1980. I normally don’t do this but I’m linking a page from Wikipedia for you to look at if you like. It’s usually not a reliable source of information but in this case, it will do. If the information is accurate, then you will find just how controversial that she was regarding the content of her career and early problems she caused for those who wanted to keep some moral limits in the entertainment business. Her famous line of “is that a pistol in your pocket or are you just happy to see me” was blurted out by her when she arrived at the LA train station and a policeman was there to escort her. Later, she used the line in a film but somehow the line got assigned to her way before that. She had other lines and a pretty risque reputation. Here is a list of supposed Mae West quotes. She died at age 87 after a series of strokes, but she earlier had hidden her true age. When she appeared with WC Fields in My LIttle Chickadee, she was 47, which was a surprise to me.

Let’s see…what other lousy things happened on this date…in 1972 the first B-52 was shot down in Vietnam and in 1950 there was a terrible collision of commuter trains in New York.

I don’t know about you, but November 22 seems like a day we should all climb in our beds and pull the cover over our heads.

Critical Thickness Lines Mostly Well South By Friday 7AM

Weather Bottom Line:  Some nattering nabobs of negativism said on the tube that Sunday would be cloudy and gloomy but I warned you that it would be a lovely day and it was.  What the hubub was about was a low coming up from the south but it was too far to the south to do much of anything except throw some high clouds our way.   Now, as it moves up to our east, it will be closer to thicken up the clouds somewhat.  I suspect that will generally be the story but the models are tossing out very light rain from time to time for Monday and Tuesday.  Either way, the clouds will probably hold the afternoon highs in the 50’s.  There is a more significant system coming down for the middle part of the week.  I suspect that we will have a period of partly cloudy skies for the first half of Wednesday before the lead short wave comes down and the front moves through.  That will give us a chance for some rain late Wednesday into early Thursday.  There is a secondary short coming in behind the first one that will bring along more energy and a shot of some pretty cold air.  There will probably be a period of clearing after the first round that won’t last long before more clouds roll in.  With the parent low to the northeast up around the Great Lakes, many models are hinting at wrap around snow for Thanksgiving night.  If it does, I don’t see how it will be anything more than a conversation piece.  My hunch is that it is nothing more than a computer driven fantasy but in pragmatic terms, its no big deal either way.  But, if it does happen, it would be the first flakes of the season and that always brings out the media even though such an event in January would bring nothing more than a yawn.  Anyway, plan on a cold Thanksgiving.  Some places may only get to 40 or so for an afternoon high.  The chilldown won’t last for  too long though as we should return to seasonal levels for the weekend.

Large Hadron Collider Up and Running-No Black Hole Yet; Mrs. Bixby’s Letter to Lincoln
November 21, 2009

A Black Hole, the Future Earth?

A New Cathedral

It’s Back! The Large Hadron Collider is up and running again with no apparent adverse affects.  If you recall, the world’s largest supercollider is located along the French-Swiss border.  It was much ballyhooed as a key tool in the study of subatomic particles.  It was all set and ready to go and it was fired up only to suffer a calamity 9 days later.  About 50 of the magnets were damaged severely and had to be replaced.  Last August, a physicist wrote a paper that supported claims the collider could create a black hole.   Now, the fear isn’t a giant black hole but instead the assertion is that a small black hole could be created and then…well…I dunno what happens then especially if the created black holes are so small that they cannot easily be detected.  There is still an official site for citizens against the Large Hadron Collider.  But, UC Santa Barbara Professor Steve Giddings claims that, even if it did create a small black hole, it would only last for a “nano-nano-nanosecond” and wouldn’t be a big deal.  I guess the professor doesn’t buy into the Barbara Streisand song from Hello Dolly, It only takes a Moment.

Bixby Letter Fascimile of 1891 Sold By New York Huber Museum for $1

Bixby Letter Fascimile of 1891 Sold By New York Huber Museum for $1

On This Date in History: The story goes like this. A widow, Lydia Bixby was said to have lost 5 sonsLydia Bixby fighting for the Union in the Civil War and Massachusetts Governor John Andrew asked the president to write a letter of condolence. On this date in 1864, President Abraham Lincoln composed a letter to Mrs. Bixby. The letter was published in the Boston Evening Transcript on November 25, 1864. That letter, noted for its compassion and prose, has been hailed since that time and even made its way into Stephen Spielberg’s 1998 Saving Private Ryan with General Marshall reading from the letter and using the letter as the reason why they were going to find Private Ryan.

Historians though have doubts as to the authorship. Many suspect that it was really Lincoln’s secretary, John Hay, who wrote the letter. No original letter has ever been produced. Further, Mrs. Bixby 5 sons weren’t all killed in the war. Two lost their lives in the fighting, another was honorably discharged, another was dishonorably thrown from the ranks and the fifth’s fate is unknown, though some suggest that this means that he either deserted or died in a Confederate prisoner of war camp. How they come to those to limitations is beyond my own limited comprehension.

If Gen. Marshall in "Ryan" Had the Lincoln Letter, It was not an Original

If Gen. Marshall in

Ironically, on November 17, 2008 a report surfaced that the original Bixby letter may have been found. But, when you read this story, you find that is not necessarily the case and even suggests that analysis reveals that the signature on the new letter is not that of Lincoln. But, could it be the handwriting of Hay? I want to know how it found its way to Texas if it is…and why do they suggest that it is the original when at the top it says “copy.”

It is interesting to me, however, that in The Living Lincoln: The Man and His Times, in His Own Words by Paul M. Angle and Earl Schenck Miers, that they do not mention any question as to Lincoln being the author. They simply say, “Superbly eloquent as the letter that Lincoln wrote to Mr. Lydia Bixby of Boston. This message, published in the Boston Transcript, appealed to the heart of the nation.” I’m not sure if they are suggesting that it was written as a political piece of prose with that purpose in mind, or if its publication resulted in appealing to the heart of the nation. Either way, whoever was the author, it is quite a remarkable letter.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.

Dear Madam,–

I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save.

I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln

40 Foot Crocodile Was Real; Moby Dick Was Real; Tom Horn Was Real
November 20, 2009

Sereno Compares Dogcroc with Supercroc

Alligators and Crocodiles strike fear in people.  Can you imagine a 40 foot “SuperCroc?”    The Supercroc still holds the title as the largest known crocodile to roam the earth but who knows if there was a bigger one?   After all, University of Chicago palaeontologist Paul Sereno announced the discovery of the fossil remains of 5 “new” species of crocodile that measure anywhere from 3 feet to 20 feet.  Today, crocodiles can reach as large as 20 feet but that still is but half of the size of the supercroc.  Some of these species are thought to have been able to eat other dinosaurs.    Another example of how mankind does not know everything and has a lot to learn and discover.  Remember that next time you hear of some scientific report that says something is “settled science” or there is a “consensus.”  That does not make it true.  One thing that is true is that at 9pm on Saturday November 21 the National Geographic Channel will be airing When Crocs Ate Dinosaurs as part of their Expedition Week.

On This Date in History: In 1820, the US whaling ship Essex got attacked by an 80 ton sperm whale 2000 miles west of South America. The 238 ton vessel sunk and all died except for 5 men who survived in an open boats for 83 days before rescue….thing is….originally there were 20 survivors….as the 15 died off from exposure and such, the remaining men had a little meal at their comrades expense, if you know what I mean. Not sure that if someone died, someone rang the dinner bell.

A White Humpback Whale

Anyway, this story inspired the tale written by Herman Melville called Moby Dick. Melville’s work was written in 1851 but Hermie didn’t do too well at the book stores. After some early success as a writer, he died in 1891 relatively unknown and not very wealthy. It wasn’t until the 20th century that Melville’s genius and talent came to be known. Nowadays, many academics consider Moby Dick to be one of America’s greatest novels. Melville lived near Nathaniel Hawthorne and dedicated his whale tale to his friend and famous writer. But the book only sold 3000 copies.

Dano In The Right Stuff

The photo above is of course from the famous 1956 movie with Gregory Peck starring as Captain Ahab. It also has Richard Basehart and a cameo by Orson Welles as Father Maple. Another guy who shows up is Royal Dano who plays “Elijah” who was a drifter kinda guy who is pretty scary and prophesies to Basehart the the ship would be doomed by a great white whale. Later, Dano in the early 1980’s is the preacher in The Right Stuff who seems to represent death as he shows up at all of the funerals, test flights and space shots. One other interesting aspect of the movie: the screen play was written by Ray Bradbury and John Huston. Huston also directed.

Greenpeace in Battle

On a related note…on this day at this very moment, a small fleet of ships in a Japanese whaling expedition is on its way to the Arctic regions to hunt whales. They want to get 90 sperm whales among other specimens. I say specimens because whaling is banned world wide under an international treaty. But they can be hunted for research. The official mission of the fleet is for research. Yet, when they left port they left to great fanfare and people of small villages in northern Japan claiming they need to whaling so that they may carry on their thousands of years old culture. Greenpeace isn’t buying the scientific aspect and will attempt to thwart the harpooning of the great mammals. Perhaps Moby Dick will resurface and get a bit of revenge.

Tom Horn

Tom Horn

On This Date in History: Tom Horn had worked as a US Army scout, deputy sherrif, and Pinkerton

Horn Looks A Little Heavier and Younger Here

Horn Looks A Little Heavier and Younger Here

Detective in the 19th Century. When General Nelson Miles had need of a “super-scout” to help track down Geronimo, he called on Tom Horn. It has been suggested that Horn even arranged for Geronimo’s surrender. Horn was no shrinking violet. While working for the Pinkerton Agency, he reported killed 17 men. His reputation was such that on one occasion he reportedly simply walked up to an accused robber and killer and announced that he had come for him. The man quietly surrendered rather than face Tom Horn. But, the detective business wasn’t exciting enough and Horn quit, saying, “It was too tame for me.”

In 1894 he was hired by the cattleman’s association in Wyoming to supposedly combat cattle rustlers but in reality was used as an enforcer against small ranchers and homesteaders who got in the way of the cattle barons. In effect, he was the law for the big shots and served as judge, jury and executioner receiving $300 to $600 for each man he took down. See, Horn didn’t see himself as murderer but instead believed that when men in authority, or even the law, hired him, he would be protected. It usually worked out that way. Horn said, “Killing is my specialty. I look at it as a business proposition and I think I have a corner on the market.” He usually lay in wait for his victim and then made his mark by placing a rock under the victim’s head.

Horn Making The Rope For His Own Gallows

Horn Making The Rope For His Own Gallows

But, the law caught up with Horn who was arrested in 1902 for the killing of a 14-year-old son of a settler the year before. In Cheyenne, the cattle barons paid for his defense and a sensational trial ensued with everyone thinking that he would be found not guilty. That was not to be the case. The prosecution had a legal reporter along with federal officer Joe LeFors and a deputy sheriff got a drunken Horn to supposedly confess to the killing. The “confession” was allowed in court and heard by a jury that was stacked with opponents of the cattlemen. Horn was convicted and on this date in 1903, Tom Horn went to the gallows after making the rope that was used in the hanging.

Steve McQueen’s 2nd to last movie was a biopic called Tom Horn with

McQueen Was a Great Tom Horn

McQueen Was a Great Tom Horn

Linda Evans, Slim Pickens and Richard Farnsworth. I guess the moral to the story is that no one is above the law and even if you get convicted of something you didn’t do, perhaps it is a justice of nature for all of the things that you did do but for which you were never caught. You may think that this held true for a certain Heismann Trophy, NFL Hall of Famer who is now in prison in Nevada.

A long bio of Horn. A shorter bio of Horn.

Weather Bottom Line:  Weekend looks great, but seasonably cool.

Shocking! Oprah Calls it Quits! Cops Taze 10-year-old girl!
November 20, 2009

Maybe Wally Sparks will replace Oprah

No more Oprah?  On the surface, the announcement that Oprah Winfrey will conclude her show on September 9, 2011 may look like a terrible loss to millions who watch her program on a daily basis.  Not so fast.  Ms. Winfrey didn’t get to be one of the most influential people in media and one of the wealthiest women in television for nothing.  She’s not killing the golden goose.  She may be killing the show only in preparation to give birth to her own network.  Yup, reports are that Oprah Winfrey is looking to launch the Oprah Winfrey Network or OWN.   The news that Oprah was starting her own network hit Variety in 2008 and the project has been delayed.  The announcement of her show’s cancellation has caused many to speculate that it is an indication that plans for the OWN Network are still progressing.

Better Be Good Kids, or Else

Perhaps that isn’t shocking news.  But a 10 year old got the shock of her life.  Seems that Arkansas police came to the home of a woman who said her daughter was not following instructions.  The girl was on the kitchen floor screaming and crying.  So, mom did what any mother would do.  She told the officer to use his taser.  Well, the cop didn’t comply with the request right away.  It wasn’t until she kicked him in the groin and upper legs while he was trying to take her into the squadcar to take her to a youth shelter that he whipped it out.   A couple of kicks to the old manhood resulted in a “very brief stun” to a pre-teen from the police officer.  That seemed to do the trick as he slapped the old braclets on her and carried her to the car.  (video news story)