Archive for December, 2009

Yesterday: John Lennon Assassinated 29 years ago; Blizzard, Cold Wave across nation
December 8, 2009


On This Date in History: John Lennon was shot and killed on this date in 1980. I remember I was in my dorm lennon-mirrorroom at Jester Hall at the University of Texas at Austin. 13th floor…methinks it was room 1325. Gary Hindman was my roomate. I called him Captain America. It was a Monday night because Howard Cosell announced the shooting toward the end of Monday Night Football.

Public Gathers Outside The Dakota

Public Gathers Outside The Dakota

Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono, lived in an apartment in New York called The Dakota. A bunch of people were hanging around waiting to catch a glimpse of the couple. Mark David Chapman was a messed up guy who got into reading JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. He related to the protagonist of the novel about disaffected youth. Chapman lived in Hawaii and decided that he would shoot Lennon since he mused that Lennon was a phony. He bought a gun in Hawaii and flew to New York. He called his wife to tell him what he was going to do but she did not report it or say anything because she did not believe him. Chapman was unable to purchase ammunition for his gun in New York so he flew to Atlanta where he bought dum-dum bullets and a copy of Catcher in the Rye. He returned to New York and when Lennon and Ono emerged from The Dakota, he shot him in the back and then twice in the shoulder. I read some report that claimed Lennon lost 80% of his blood.

Chapman Mugshot Dec 9 1980

Chapman Mugshot Dec 9 1980

An interesting thing about Lennon’s death is that the reporting and public reaction were similar to that when JFK, RFK and MLK were assassinated. It mirrored what would happen a few months later when President Reagan was shot…I was in Jester Hall then too. But those guys were all politicians. He was a musician but one who had an influence perhaps on par with presidents. Now, Chapman at the last moment pleaded guilty instead of copping an insanity plea. He was given 20 years to life….

Here’s the kicker….he went to Attica Prison where in 1970 the famous riot broke out and Lennon became inspired to write Attica State, aka Free All Prisoners Everywhere. Chapman became a born-again Christian in prison and does evangelical writing.

Here’s a detailed sketch regarding the death of John Lennon on December 8, 1980.


Weather Bottom Line: The weather forecast is unfolding pretty much on line.  Rain Tuesday afternoon.  Possibly heavy rain Tuesday night and maybe even some rumbles of thunder.  The NAM still calls for no snow but it possible for a few wet snowflakes around 7 AM or so.  Now, the GFS is indicating some snow after 7AM on Wednesday but if it did it wouldn’t be much and the ground would be too warm for any accumulation unless we get a little from the wrap around by late Wednesday.  Even then it will be minor.  Nevertheless, the drive to work will be rather dicey so you may want to give yourself some extra time.  The big story will be the wind and the cold.  Wednesday the temperatures will be dropping and temps in the 30’s will feel much much colder with 25 to 40 mph winds.  Thursday, I bet we do not see the 30’s…highs will be in the 20’s.  I would think that the best chance for snow will be next Wednesday.  Regardless, its going to be colder than average for the forseeable future.

To give you an idea about the potency of this storm, in Des Moines Iowa here is the warning from the NWS:

149 PM CST TUE DEC 8 2009



Here are the highlights of what is expected: Winds over 50 mph, snow totals of 10-15 inches, snow drifts of 10-15 feet,  High temperature of 12 with windchills of 10 to 20 degrees below zero.  Visibility will be less than a half mile at times.  All of this during the Global Warming Conference in Copenhagen.  Seems like every time they have something like this, there is extreme cold weather.


Pearl Harbor Attack Foretold in 1925, Carryed Out in War Games in 1932; Burginsaurus Comes to Life
December 7, 2009



Aftermath of Pearl Harbor Attack

On This Date In History:  On December 7, 1941 the Japanese Empire attacked the United States of America in a sneak attack on the naval and army installations in Hawaii. Some 2500 Americans lost their lives. I will spare the details of the “date that will live in infamy” but I will say that I think there are many who have forgotten or choose to ignore history. As we saw in September 2001, similar incidents are still possible. Admiral Yamamoto, the architect of the event, had lived in the United States and knew of the nation’s industrial potential even though it had been mired in depression for the previous decade. He feared he had “awakened a sleeping giant and given him great resolve.” He was right.  Ultimately, the attack resulted in the destruction of Japan. I do wonder though what it takes for this nation to have great resolve today. In 1945, the US and its allies eliminated the threat of further attacks by those who attacked us to ensure that they could not do it again.

Sinking of USS West Virginia and USS Tennessee

In both 1941 and 2001,  part of the blame was put on intelligence failures.  Leading up to December 7, 1941 there were plenty of clues.  One of which was on the bookshelves at the local library.  Hector C. Bywater wrote The Great Pacific War in 1925.  He was a British naval intelligence officer who spelled out exactly how the Japanese would go to war with the United States.  Bywater said that Japan’s military ambition would be to conquer China and Korea in order to plunder those nation’s raw materials.  He said in order to achieve the goal,  Japan would first have to destroy or cripple the American forces in the Pacific.  He said that it would go after strategic targets and thought that the US Naval base in Manila Bay would be the first target.  That part wasn’t exactly right but the rest was on the money.

Yamamoto: Brilliant or Just a Good Reader?

Now, as I mentioned, Isoroku Yamamoto had lived in the United States and, in fact, was living in Washington DC in 1925 when Bywater’s book was published.  Yamamoto was working as a naval attache who was fluent in English and could not have missed the fact that the book was out because it was even reviewed by the New York Times.  Beside that, The Great Pacific War and also a study Bywater had done in 1921 titled Sea Power and the Pacific were both available in Japan and both were circulated among Japanese military officers.   In later years, Japanese military historian Mitsuo Fuchida said that both works were part of the curriculum at the Japanese Naval War College in 1936.  Students at the war college were asked on an exam, “How would you attack Pearl Harbor?” 

Everyone But Those In Charge Knew Pearl Harbor Was Vulnerable From the Air

Americans had the answer.  A widely publicized attack was launched during  war games by US Admiral Harry Yarnell with an attack from aircraft carriers in 1932 in an exhibition designed to prove the vulnerability of Pearl Harbor to attack.  No one can say for sure if this demonstration by Admiral Yarnell or the published work by Bywater influenced Yamamoto at all.  He was a pretty smart guy and apparently everyone except those who were supposed to know knew the weaknesses of Pearl Harbor.  Yamamoto never said because he was killed on April 18, 1943 when the plane he was in was targeted and shot down.  That bit of intelligence was acted on by the United States.  But had the folks in charge read the New York Times or visited their local library or recalled the demonstration put on by one of their own admirals, then perhaps the beginning of World War II might have been different and then who knows what might have happened had the initial attack on Pearl Harbor on this date in 1941 been unsuccessful. Just to add to the intrigue, Bywater died  in London under mysterious circumstances in 1940, the year before Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Steve Burgin...Father Time

On this date….a long long long time ago….when the dinosaurs ruled the earth, Mr. Steve Burgin was born. He dinosaur-fossilhas served Louisville honorably and admirably for many years and is known in local palentology circles as the Burginsaurus. While he may look like a carnivorous beast, in real life he’s a big teddy bear.

I’m going to tell a secret: He has helped many many young journalists fulfill their dreams of developing a successful career.

I’ll tell you another secret: I am proud and honored to be able to call Steve Burgin my friend. Over the years, he has been a great sounding board and has helped me from time to time. Like many people who have had the good fortune to work with him, I am a better person for having him as being part of the sum total of my life. Besides all that…he’s given me some good ties.

Steve Burgin is also a top shelf journalist and Louisville is lucky to have him. He is the first person from this area inducted into the Silver Circle of The Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Television Academy. That small fraternity is considered the “best of the best.” He’s also received the Edward R. Murrow Award and the Scripps Howard National Award for Investigative Reporting as well as several regional Emmy Awards and other honors. He even walked my mother down the aisle at my wedding! He may be a fossil but he’s our fossil and we should all be thankful to have this journalistic treasure in our midst. See, I have to tell people because the Burginsaurus is really quite shy. He’s really a quite friendly creature, just keep your hands and feet clear at feeding time.

Feel free to email Steve ( and tell him happy birthday. It would be a fine way to acknowledge his efforts to serve the community in so many ways…..besides that..the fire department has outlawed anymore birthday cakes for him due to the potential fire warm greetings would be appreciated I’m sure.

Happy Birthday Steve….and here’s to many more ahead!

NWS Louisville summary of snowfall for Dec 7 2009

Weather Bottom Line:  Well, half of the area got their first snow overnight.  I had said it wouldn’t be much and the map above shows that the vast majority of the area got either nothing or  just a dusting.  But, take a look at the areas to the northwest of Louisville in Southern Indiana.  A few spots pushed up toward an inch of snow.  Now,the next system that I was more bullish on is not paying attention to my thinking as most of the data suggests that it will lift up from the southern plains northward to our west.  So, we will stay on the warm side.  That means rain.  Now,the GFS does want to give us some wrap around snow on Wednesday evening into Wednesday night.   It’s been my experience that its pretty tough for us to get much snow when the parent low is all the way up in the Great Lakes. But, it’s out there.  The biggest thing is that, after warming up to close to seasonal levels for Tuesday and Wednesday, Wednesday evening we drop down again with the frontal passage and we stay well below seasonal norms for the latter half of the week into next weekend.

Man loses $127 million in Las Vegas; Monument to The General Opens to Public
December 6, 2009

For Mr. Watanabe, I Guess There is a Problem

WSJ Says Mr. Watanabe has the biggest losing streak in Las Vegas History

As I freshman in college, Soviet Paul and I once lost about $300 playing some game called Pflugerville to a bunch of seniors in the fraternity.  It wasn’t until later that I found out that Pflugerville was a town north of Austin, Texas and the card game was an invention of a bunch of drunk fraternity brothers who had partied down there one night.  I felt like an idiot.  Still makes me mad.  But, I don’t feel so bad anymore.  Meet the man who lost $127 million at Las Vegas casinos in one year.   When you consider that would be just a little under $348,000 a day for every day of the calendar year, its really a pretty tough trick. Also consider this:  this one gambler’s losses resulted in 5.6% of the total revenues for the year.   So, if you are the casino, do you extend him a credit line?  Do you let him keep gambling?  The answer is yes on both accounts.  Terrance Watanabe of Omaha, Nebraska still owes $14.7 million to Harrah’s Entertainment from the credit line it extended.  He’s not forking it over either..

When you're sinking, its wiser to abandon ship than to go down with it

The reason is, according to the Wall Street Journal,  that the 52-year-old Watanabe has filed a lawsuit claiming that “casino staff routinely plied him with liquor and pain medication  as part of a systemic plan to keep him gambling.”  The advertising campaign says that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.  Watananbe could be the poster child for the idea that your money stays in Las Vegas too.  And that’s the way the Nevada authorities wants it to stay, so the Clark County Attorney General brought 4 felony counts against the Nebraskan for intent to defraud and steal.  That would mean that he ran up the credit line with the intention of not paying it back.  How can you prove intent to defraud or steal and intent to use the houses money to try and win back what you lost?  Sounds like a tough case.  Either way, with a losing streak like that, perhaps Watanabe should use the Detroit Lions or the New Jersey Nets logo as his company’s moniker.

Washington Preferred This Monument To Himself

Washington Preferred This Monument To Himself

Early Obelisk Design Following Equestrian Proposal

Early Obelisk Design Following Equestrian Proposal

On This Date in History:   While he is relatively anonymous, Steve Sopher was born on this date in 1961.  While his friends and family think highly of him, there is no monument to commemorate his life on earth, though he might eventually construct one to himself.   Now, you know that you are a pretty big dog when plans for a monument to your life are begun while you are still alive. This was true of General George Washington. Even before he was the first president, A proposal was made by Congress in 1783 that a memorial be erected. However, the obleisk may even better signify Congressional ineptitude that has been the hallmark of the institution almost since its inception.

General Washington was quite pleased with the original design, which featured the avid horseman on the back of his favorite horse. Money was short though and Congress quibbled about the best way to pay tribute to the father of the country and so the project remained dormant for a time. In 1833, patience had grown short with the upper and lower chambers and so a group of citizens decided to take charge and form the Washington National Monument Society with a mission of raising the appropriate funds and oversee construction. But, even the wheels of the citizen bandwagon turn slow sometimes and a cornerstone was not laid until July 4, 1848. The ceremony was probably the best advertising that the effort had ever received as contributions poured in from banks, organizations and individuals as well as various states. Alabama came up with a commemorative plaque for the interior. Firemen, Indian tribes, social clubs and foreign countries including the Vatican joined in the effort.

Standing Idle in 1860

Standing Idle in 1860

Pope Pius IX himself donated a plaque that on March 6, 1854 was stolen from the contruction grounds, allegedly by the American Party, who gained fame as the “Know-Nothings.” Americans who considered themselves as “native” Americans because they were born in the New World, had a not-so-secret oath to vote for only American-born protestants and to oppose the Catholic Church. They held disdain for the waves of immigrants moving in largely from Irish and Germany. These groups of people were mainly Roman Catholic. If they were ever asked about their politics, a member would answer like Sargeant Schultz and say “I know nothing.” In 1855, these Know-Nothings gained control of the monument society and Congress promptly cut the planned $200,000 earmarked for the project. That caused public support to dry up quickly. For the next 3 years, only 4 feet of marble was added and it was such poor quality, those four feet would have to be removed. Work stopped completely during the Civil War and the stub of marble remained as an eyesore in the middle of town.

Three Different Shades

Three Different Shades

Advance to the national centennial of 1776 and Congress authorized funds for the completion of the project. But,the US Army Corps of Engineers took a look and decided that there was no way on God’s Green Earth that the earth would support the weight of the monument. So, it took time and money to dig out nearly 3/4 of the dirt under the project so that concrete foundation footings could be poured. The proposed height of the obelisk was reduced from 600 feet to 555 feet 5 1/8 inches. Work was resumed in 1880 and the project was completed on this date in 1884 and was open to the public in 1888. Due to difficulties in delivering marble and the previous stops and starts, 3 different types of marble was used in construction of the monument, each with different colors and quality, resulting in a distinctively different look as one looks from top to bottom.

The Washington Monument is not the tallest obelisk in the world.  Texans deliberately made the San Jacinto Monument 15 feet taller.  Nevertheless, visitors to the Washington Monument can go inside and  see 190 commemorative plaques along the staircase, including one from the Vatican. The original was never recovered….they say it rests somewhere in the Potomac River and a replacement took longer to get across the pond than it did to build the monument. The replacement Vatican Plaque took its place among the rest in 1982, 128 years after the Know-Nothings almost brought the entire project to a halt. If they had just followed the desire of General Washington, then it may have been completed long before. He just wanted a horse.

GFS Not Real Enthused For Snow Accumulation Through Monday Evening

Weather Bottom Line:  I took a look at the vertical profiles progs and for Monday, neither the 18Z GFS nor the 18z NAM are too enthused about snow.   The GFS has some rain that turns to about a quarter inch of snow.  But,  for Wednesday night, it advertises an inch of snow.  The NAM has no snow for Sunday or Monday but rain carrying over from Monday into Tuesday.  The ECMWF and CEM models are similar with the first low keeping to our west bringing rain with perhaps some wrap around snow and then both have the more significant system on Wednesday but they aren’ t as bullish on the wrap around snow as the GFS.  My guess is that we don’t see significant snow.  Perhaps a little on Monday but I”m not so sure where the moisture will come from with the second system when the temperatures are below critical levels for the Wednesday/Thursday time frame.  That is still several days away and I still like that systems chances for bringing us some accumulations than the first system. 

We only made it to the mid to upper 30’s on Saturday and I betcha we only have some of the folks in the low 40’s for Sunday.  But, if you have chores, Sunday should be the time as there are several opportunities for precipitation in the week ahead.  We probably won’t get back up to seasonal temperatures until next Sunday.

Man Marries a Cartoon, Groom Tweets From Alter, Physicists Make World’s Smallest Snowman-Are we Doomed?
December 5, 2009

Guess it was a slow day at the National Physical Laboratory in West London

Science has brought so many advancements to human life.  One would think that today’s researchers are working to solve problems of over-population, hunger, disease and even global warming; and they probably are.  But these physicists found time to create the world’s smallest snowman.  I’m not sure what they were trying to prove, what they were supposed to be doing or if they were just fooling around.  But, I’m sure those who are funding their work might like to know.

True Love Tweeter or Just A Twit

Was that stupid?  I dunno…they were probably working on some other project and the snowman building was showing what they could manipulate on a small scale.  But, I think that the story of the groom tweeting from the alter is pretty far out in left field.  The guy interrupted the minister so that he could take out his phone.  He kept himself out of the early doghouse by handing a second phone to his bride.  But still…tweeting and going on facebook when you are before the eyes of God making your devotional pledge?  How romantic.

SAL9000 Shows Off His Bride


Speaking of romance and technology…this guy in Japan married a computer generated character from a popular video game.  The groom was some guy who calls himself SAL9000 says he fell in love with Nintendo DS “Love Plus” character Nene Anegasaki after he apparently had failed flings with other computer generated characters.  The ceremony was broadcast live over the web.  Darn…I missed it.

Funny Elf

And finally, the kids could have stood to miss this.  Seems a man dressed up as an Elf told Santa that one of his bag of Christmas presents was filled with dynamite.  William C. Caldwell, III is a slight man of just about 5 feet tall and got in line to visit Santa at a shopping mall dressed up as an elf.   The 45-year-old Caldwell had a surprise for Santa, though I’m not sure if he sat on Santa’s lap to whisper it in his ear.  But, when he got to the front of the line, he twice told Santa that he had dynamite in his bag.  Turns out it was a hoax.  Funny guy.  He’s in jail.

Jarbidge Victim Not So Lucky

Jarbidge Victim Not So Lucky

On This Date in History: Jarbidge, Nevada is in the northwest quandrant of Nevada in a pretty out-of-the way place along the Idaho border. It had a population of nearly 1200 in 1911 but mining operations ceased in the area by 1932. The town population has dwindled to around 20. While it has people and the post office is still open 5 days a week, it either is or has a ghost town…not sure if the ghosts are counted among the 20 or not. I”m also not certain if it was supposed to be JarbRidge but someone stole the “r”.

Anyway, on this date in 1916 it was a rather cold and brisk day in Jarbidge, which is not too surprising given its location and its reputation as a town that collects lots of snow. The postmaster grew concerned because the mail stage was 3 hours late. Remember, the automobile had not been around for very long and in difficult terrain, a horse was a much better mode of transportation. So, a search party went out and found the empty stagecoach at 11PM. They also found the driver with a fatal bullet wound. Nearby lay a bloodstained overcoat.

On The Case in 1916?

On The Case in 1916?

Kuhl Got Out of Jail Free

Kuhl Got Out of Jail Free

I’m not sure if the detective on the case was Columbo but they certainly seemed to solve the crime before the closing commercial because authorities went straight to Ben Kuhl who was known thereabouts as a drifter. People in the town knew that Kuhl had been seen in a similar overcoat. In Kuhl’s tent, they found a pistol. Another key piece of evidence was an envelope that was picked up near the coach. The envelope had a bloody palm print. Now, police work was starting to line up with science around that time (Remember Hec Ramsey?) and so they made an impression of Kuhl’s palm print and it was identical to the one found on the envelope. The sherrif also arrested 3 other men known to have run with Kuhl. It’s a long story (here’s a version) but they released one guy and another got off for agreeing to testify against the other two. One of the men was given a life sentence but he only served a little more than 6 years before being paroled. In Kuhl’s case, the jury took but two hours to determine a conviction of murder in the first degree. His sentence was death. He chose a firing squad over a hanging but neither was necessary. After numerous appeals, his sentence was commuted to life. But, he too was paroled, but his trek to freedom took longer as he got out in a little less than 28 years. Ben Kuhl died a year later of tuberculosis.

Ramsey Was CSI before CSI

Ramsey Was CSI before CSI

This marked the first time that a palm print was admitted as evidence in the case. It also marked the last time that a stage coach was ever robbed. The jury bought the latest in technology relating to crime-scene evidence and Kuhl was convicted. But, of the $3000 taken in the robbery, only $182 was recovered. Maybe the ghosts of Jarbidge spent the rest. Or maybe, the guy that they released spent it all. But the man responsible for putting Kuhl behind bars in the first place was also the man who set him free. See, the prosecutor at Kuhl’s trial was a man named Ted Carville….the very same Governor Carville who paroled Kuhl on April 16, 1943.

On a side note, in the trial of the man who only served 6 years, Carville asked the press not to report the trial, in fear that it would taint the jury in Kuhl’s trial. The press obliged. Think that would happen today? Do you think that two men who were convicted of being an accesory to murder would get paroled 6 years and 28 years later?

Weather Bottom Line:  Forecast remains on track….while GFS is backing off midweek snow stuff…others still insist on it.  The key factor will be whether or not the low tracks to our west or to the east.  Have to wait and see.  A few folks might see 40 on Saturday.  Sunday everyone gets to the low 40’s.  Plenty of sunshine each day.   Monday’s system could bring some insignificant snow but really nothing too exciting.  We’ll look at it closer through the weekend.  Main point is that its not warming up any time soon…probably below seasonal average 49 for at least the next week.

Tragic Court Martial of USS Indianapolis Captain
December 4, 2009

"Capt. Quint" was on the USS Indianapolis; In this scene from Jaws he concludes his story with "anyway, we delivered the bomb."

USSIndianapolisOn This Date in History: On July 29,  1945, the USS Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine. The cruiser was returning from Tinian Island where it had secretly delivered the atomic bomb. Because it was a secret mission, details of its schedule were shrouded. So much so that its late arrival went unnoticed. The Americans had intercepted a message from the sub describing the ship they had sunk. The Americans just assumed it was a boast and didn’t follow up. If you remember Jaws then you know the story as told by Captain Quint, who said he was a crew member of the doomed ship. Nearly 1200 men were on the ship.

Captain McVay

Captain McVay

About 400 died from the torpedo blast. Some 900 men went into the water but only 318 were rescued. No one showed up for a rescue for 84 hours in during that time nearly 500 men were devoured by sharks. Quint said he’d never wear a life jacket again. The Captain of the Indianapolis, Charles B McVay III, never sailed again and on this date in 1945  he became the only officer in US naval history to be court-martialed for losing a ship in war time. McVay committed suicide in 1968 and many speculate he took his own life due to guilt.   His father had been a Rear Admiral in the US Navy and that most likely just added to his grief.  But, during the Clinton Administration, Captain McVay was exonerated from fault by Congress in October 2000.   In spite of the Congressional official exoneration, the US Navy records still indicate the Captain Charles McVay was found guilty in a Court-Martial for losing the USS Indianapolis while he was in command.

Here is a link to a message board regarding Captain Charles B. McVay.

Weather Bottom Line:  It’s going to stay chilly over the weekend.  Our average high this time of year is around 49 and Saturday and Sunday we will have highs somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 degrees below that.  On Monday, another system drops down that may bring a rain snow mix or some insignificant snow.  What I am more interested in resides later in the week.  By Wednesday or Thursday, another system drops down and moves through.  The GFS was advertising about a half inch of snow.  It’s interesting because the GFS is the model that got the snow right today for Houston.  The NAM was claiming it would be dry.  The TV stations haven’t caught on to this feature yet as they too say rain…but I think that it holds some promise…but its 5 days away so we’ll see how it unfolds.  Needless to say…we ain’t warmin’ up any time soon.  We’ve shifted out of that November pattern that brought us one of the few warmer than average months in 2009.

NASA Data Contradicting Global Warming Assumptions Released in Cone of Silence
December 2, 2009

Carbon Cycle

Global Warming Update: With the chaos created by the “climategate” scandal involving hackers releasing controversial emails obtained from supposed communiques between scientists who have been pushing the anthropogenic global warming position, it’s possible that the media missed this little item. The idea has been that the massive increase in carbon dioxide over the decades has over taxed the earth’s natural ability of absorption. NASA released news that evidence shows that the balance between airborne and absorbed carbon dioxide has not changed since 1850 in spite of an increase of 1750% of carbon dioxide emissions. Most of the global warming support data has been based on the assumption that the earth is not able to absorb the extra emissions. Dr. Norman Wagner was one of my meteorology professors and he always said that a problem that modern forecasters have is that they spend all their time looking at the computer and never look out the window to see what’s really going on. Climatologists might have done well to have a class with Dr. Wagner. This should cause everyone to go back to the drawing board. But, instead, this bit of news looks like it was released in the cone of silence.

Is The Lady A Spy?

Is The Lady A Spy?

Apparently, Yes!

Apparently, Yes!

On This Date In History:

The British could have used Control’s Cone of Silence. By this time in 1777, General William Howe had his army occupying Philadelphia. When his headquarters proved too small, he commandeered an upstairs room across the street at the Darragh home. The story is that Mrs. Lydia Darragh, a nurse and mother, would eavesdrop on the conversations and sew her notes into her coat lining. She would then pass the notes on the colonials. On December 2,  1777 she found out that Howe was planning an attack on General Washington’s army nearby. She sewed the message into the lining and went through British lines saying she was getting flour. She passed on the information to Lt. Col. Thomas Craig who forwarded the information to General Washington. When the Redcoats marched toward Washington’s position, they were surprised to find the Continental Army facing them down. A three day event of skirmishes made Howe return to Philadelphia to think up another plan….presumably from a new headquarters.


Was Joe Right?

On this date in 1954, Senator “tailgunner Joe” Joe McCarthy was condemned for his snooting about for communists in the government. An ironic twist to the story not typically told; many historians now suggest that there were in fact a number of communist influences in the government. Maybe if McCarthy used honey to attract flies instead of…well….you get the point.

Good Bye Chicago?

Good Bye Chicago?

On this date in 1942, Enrique Fermi produced the first nuclear fission chain reaction in Chicago. The place? Under the grandstands of the University of Chicago football stadium. Fermi’s work led directly to the development of the atomic bomb and later nuclear power. Thing is, Fermi wasn’t exactly certain that the reaction could be controlled and many physicists were concerned such an attempt would result in an uncontrolled reaction which would mean an explosion….as in an atomic explosion. I don’t think that the Bears were playing for that day or they may have had two potential disasters in one stadium.

Wed Eve...Low Pressure will exit before the cold air comes into place

Weather Bottom Line:  Well, the big threat of snow is here.  Even the Weather Channel took it out of their forecast.  My position remains the same.  If it snows it won’t be much and it won’t matter because the ground will be too cold.  The NAM has zero in the way of snow but has a saturated layer from about 900 mb to 975 mb but the temperatures in the lower 25 mb remain above freezing.  Also, after Thur 10 am, that saturated layer begins to disappear.  Now, the GFS has a little different solution in that it has that saturated layer but it has light rain falling almost throughout the overnight and into the morning and through Thursday.  Then, by Thursday evening, it turns over to snow and takes the surface temperature down close to freezing.  It would put out less than a half inch of snow.  That is the only supporting data for snow…and Thursday night seems a bit late. I don’t buy it,  but there it is.  Basically, the moisture leaves before the cold air at all levels gets here.  About that time, I’ll be the emcee at Light Up Jeffersonville so I can give a pinpoint observation. I think we stay too warm and its no big deal.  We still don’t warm up for Friday or Saturday with highs in the upper 30’s and low 40’s.  Don’t look for any major warm ups after that any time soon.

Was Quiet 2009 Hurricane Season Forecast by US Government? Is Blackbeard really dead?
December 1, 2009

NOAA Graphic Depiction of 2009 Hurricane Season

Hurricane Ida Devastated Parts of Central America Though American Media Generally Gave Scant Coverage

The 2009 North Atlantic Hurricane Season is over. When you read the NOAA summary for the 2009 Hurricane Season, you see that it was the quietest season since 1997 and they immediately blame El Nino which typically suppresses hurricane activity in the North Atlantic. That’s fine. What is interesting is that they cite their forecast from August…or the one that comes out in midseason and says that the 9 named storms and 3 hurricanes falls within their range. They claim victory. Remember, this is your federal government at work and so sometimes what is true is not always entirely accurate. See, it was known back in the spring that El Nino was developing.  Nevertheless, I reported  last May Dr. William Gray and Dr. Phillip J. Klotzbach at Colorado State had predicted 14 named storms with 6 becoming hurricanes.   Now, this did represent a decline in the number of storms seen in recent years which Gray has long maintained is part of a natural cyclical elevation of tropical cyclones in the North Atlantic and has nothing to do with global warming.  So, an El Nino would suppress activity but the natural cycle would still make it more active than one might expect in a time of El Nino.  But, Al Gore has been running around claiming that Global Warming would cause more hurricanes and more frequent instances of powerful hurricanes.  Gray has long been an opponent of such talk and in that same post, I noted a researcher who claimed that Global Warming might actually decrease the number of hurricanes in the North Atlantic, which means that even if Gore were right, he’d be wrong.

Peggy's Cove Waves and foolish people

Hurricane Bill Brought Excitement to Canada's Peggy's Cove in August

Tropical Storm Ida Caused A Few Problems for Destin, FL in early November

So, NOAA is trumpeting its victory from August of 2009.  But, how did it do when you go back to the beginning of the season.  The May 21 2009 NOAA forecast for the 2009 hurricane season is interesting.  It gave a lot of wiggle room.  It said there was a 50% chance that it would be a normal season…that being I believe 10 named storms and 6 hurricanes, though those numbers may be a shade higher due to activity in recent years.  Anyway, what is 50%? Maybe it will maybe it won’t.  Then there was a 25% chance it would be higher than normal and 25% chance it would be lower.  Not exactly out on a big limb there, eh?  They gave it a 70% chance of there being 14 named storms with 4-7 hurricanes.  Sounds pretty similar to Dr. Gray.  Here is my beef and it’s not with the meteorologists.  It’s with the people who write these reports. 

They need to be honest and give the initial forecast. It wasn’t that far off and it would be helpful to provide some explanation as to why they changed it.  All they have to say is that the developing El Nino became stronger, faster than anticipated.  Done. Instead, they try to create a facade and only tell half the story.  It’s not a big deal but perhaps may be an indication of a transparentless government incapable of telling the whole truth.  If they don’t tell the whole story on little things like this, can we really trust them with the big things?  I mean, I look at Sports Illustrated and its football forecast.  Their pre-season predictions are not real good.  They had the Bears in the Super Bowl.  But, if they waited until the halfway point of the season, their forecast would be more accurate.  NOAA quoting their August forecast as reason for victory would be like Sports Illustrated using their mid-season forecast as the measuring bar to determine the accuracy of their football forecasters.  One thing is for certain: SI at midseason would not have the Bears in the Super Bowl. 

Who Is He and When Did He Die?

Who Is He and When Did He Die?

On This Date in History: Now here is a difficult spot for me because my source claims that Blackbeard the Pirate met his demise on this date in 1718. Other accounts say it was a week or so before on November 22. Given that no one really knows much about Blackbeard prior to his pirating days and accounts of events are often clouded by myth and hyperbole, its hard to know exactly what is the truth. In any event, I’ll stick with my crack research staff and say that the man who may or may not have been Edward Teach, known as Blackbeard, died on this date in 1718 in the lagoons of North Carolina.

What A Beard!!!

What A Beard!!!

It is known that Teach went to sea at a very young age, though no one knows for certain where he was from. After serving the British in the Spanish War of Succession as a privateer, he became a pirate, which wasn’t too unusual for privateers after the British backed out of the conflict in 1713. He hooked up with a guy named Benjamin Hornigold who, after a few years of hijacking on the high seas, decided to retire. Queen Anne offered a pardon, but Teach declined and took over Hornigold’s ships, which included a converted 300 ton French slave ship that sported 40 guns. Blackbeard renamed it Queen Anne’s Revenge.

There are many tales about Blackbeard. He got his name from the long, thick beard he grew that was such that he could braid it numerous times. I saw a guy in Tallahassee with a braided beard. He looked ridiculous. He told me that if you drove a car, then you could not be considered an environmentalist. Theorhetically, I suppose he was right but pragmatically, that doesn’t work. He rode a bike…Blackbeard rode the high seas and was notorious for stories of being tough to work with. He supposedly shot his own first mate because he said if he didn’t shoot some of his crew now and then, they would not know their proper position. He was known as a big drinker and he and his crew got into wild contests. He supposedly had a contest in which he put some sort of smoke bomb in the hold of the ship along with he and his men to see who could last the longest. Of course, he was the last to emerge. I forget the quote upon his late arrival from the hold.

Anyway, in May 1718, he had several ships full of loot and some of his ships ran aground. Some

BlackBeard Keeping Watch

BlackBeard Keeping Watch

say that he led them there on purpose so that he didn’t have to split the treasure with so many men. He transferred the booty from the ship and left the crews of the ships marooned on an island. He then decided to accept a pardon under the Act of Grace. But, the governor of Virginia wasn’t convinced that Teach had really given up his life of crime and wanted him eliminated. So, he sent a group of men in shallow sloops from the James River to give chase. Using shallow draft vessels was a strategic decision since Blackbeard often handcuffed anyone in pursuit by expertly navigating the shallow coastal waters.

A Lt Maynard was in charge of the expedition of two ships which were temporarily given the cover of HMS status…Her Majesty’s Ship…so that they were free to do as they please without being charged as pirates themselves. Maynard and Blackbeard exchanged blows from time to time before the two ended up with just one ship each that were both badly damaged. Maynard ordered his men into the hold and wait for Blackbeard to board. Teach thought that the boat was abandoned and was quite surprised when the crew emerged. A fight ensued and, supposedly, one of Maynard’s crew fighting with Blackbeard managed to cut the pirate on the neck. Blackbeard supposedly complemented his opponent. His opponent accepted and then proceeeded to chop off the head of Blackbeard. Legend is that the headless body swam three times around the ship before it was captured.

You don’t like that account? How about this one from the Boston News-Letter:

Maynard and Teach themselves begun the fight with their swords, Maynard making a thrust, the point of his sword against Teach’s cartridge box, and bent it to the hilt. Teach broke the guard of it, and wounded Maynard’s fingers but did not disable him, whereupon he jumped back and threw away his sword and fired his pistol which wounded Teach. Demelt struck in between them with his sword and cut Teach’s face; in the interim both companies engaged in Maynard’s sloop. Later during the battle, while Teach was loading his pistol he finally died from blood loss. Maynard then cut off his head and hung it from his bow.

So…there you have it…not sure when he was born…not sure where he was born. Think I know he died on this date but others say November 2nd. Not entirely sure if he was really Edward Teach and we’re not sure exactly how he died, but we do know that he eventually had his head separated from the rest of his body and it was hung from a yard arm……And then there remains the legend of Blackbeard’s treasure. He said that it was buried somewhere and only he and the Devil knew where it was…perhaps if you go digging around on the North Carolina coast, you may find it….but watch out for a ghost with a long black beard…or maybe even a guy named Lucifer! If you do see the ghost, ask him to clear up the story for us.

Weather Bottom Line:  Told you it would be chilly and damp on Monday.  But, things improved by late afternoon with some sunshine, though it was still pretty chilly.  Tuesday should be seasonally cool.  Then we get to the midweek and things don’t look any better.  The cut off low in the Southwest gets ejected as a cold front dives down and picks it up.  The moisture drawn up will bring rain.  The official story is that it will turn to snow Wednesday night and then we get snow showers on Thursday.  But, as I’ve said before, it will be nothing more than a conversation piece in all liklihood as ground temperatures will be too warm and air temperatures during the day will be above freezing.  The real story here is that it will be quite chilly.  Highs for the end of the week into the weekend don’t get out of the 30’s and lows will get to the mid 20’s once the clouds go away.  Hey, it’s December and its not that big of a deal.