Archive for May, 2010

U.S. Grant-It’s all in the name
May 30, 2010

Greatness of Grant is Obscured by History

Grant Loved Horses, Especially Cincinnati

On this Date in History:  One thing that I have learned in researching history is that, in order to really understand a subject, one must look at the complete historiography.  So often, you find people referring to one author as the authority on a particular subject when, the truth is, two or three people can have different perspectives.  Beyond points of view, authors can also have biases such that they will enhance data that fits their worldview and suppress any documentation that may bring an eye of skepticism.   For instance, there is no doubt about the fact that the 18th President of the United States and Union Commander Ulysses S. Grant was born as Hiram Ulysses Grant on April 27, 1822 near Point Pleasant, Ohio.  So, the quesiton arises as to how Hiram Ulysses Grant became Ulysses S. Grant?

Lt. Grant at age 21

One pretty reliable source that I use quite often claims that on May 29, 1839 that Hiram Ulysses Grant enrolled at West Point as Ulysses S. Grant because he wanted to avoid the intials H.U.G.   However, in the Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant,  Grant says that he “reported at West Point on the 30th or 31st of May.”   Obviously, something is amiss.  Grant biographor William S. McFeely indicates that Grant had checked in to the Roe Hotel in West Point prior to actually reporting.  Grant had always been known by his middle name, Ulysses, and he signed in as U.H. Grant, flipping his first and middle initial on the hotel register.  He used the name Ulysses H. Grant and probably would have continued to do so had it not been for the sloppiness of a Congressman.

Hamer's sloppiness gave us US Grant instead of UH Grant

You see, it was Grant’s father’s idea for him to go to West Point.  Jesse Grant had thought that the military academy would provide a secure future for his son and , after all, it was free.  The richest  boy in their hometown, Bartlett Bailey, had been dismissed and that provided an opportunity for Jesse Grant to gain his son’s admission.  He initially went to Senator Thomas Morris for an appointment but he was denied.  So, he then turned to Congressman Thomas Hamer, which was difficult for Jesse since Hamer was from the oppposing political party.   Now, Hamer had known the boy as Ulysses and when he made the appointment falsely assumed that was his first name.  Hamer needed to provide a middle initial and most likely recalled that Grant’s mother’s maiden name was Simpson.  On this date in 1839, when the young lad walked from the hotel to register at the academy, he found on the roster two Grants: Elihu Grant from New York and U. S. Grant from Ohio.  From that point forth, he was forever known as U. S. Grant. 

Hand Written Copy By Grant of his "Unconditional Surrender" Notice to Buckner

Grant had success in the military in the Mexican War but, after he left the army, he was somewhat adrift.  When the war began, he was  working as a clerk in the family store in Galena, IL.  He gained a position as a colonel in the Illinois volunteers but quickly rose through the ranks.  He gained the moniker Unconditional Surrender Grant due to his lack of desire to negotiate with the enemy for terms of surrender.  At Fort Donelson, Confederate General Simon Bolivar Buckner was left to surrender the fort to Grant after the two officers in charge of the garrison had fled.  Buckner had known Grant from the Mexican War and had even lent him money when Grant was in one of his numerous financial potholes.   It had been assumed that Buckner could use his friendship with Grant to secure favorable terms.  But, when Buckner offered an armistice on February 16, 1862 for the purpose of convening a commission to discuss terms of capitualtion, Grant responded, “No terms except and unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.  I propose to move immediately upon your works.”    Buckner was forced “to accept the ungenerous and unchivalrous terms which you (Grant) propose.” 

Pemberton's Capitulation to Unconditional Surrender Grant

On July 3, 1863 Grant received a message from Confederate General John C. Pemberton who commanded the garrison at Vicksburg, MS which had been under seige by Grant since mid-May.  Grant had made one of the most daring and brilliant moves in US military history when, instead of attempting to attack Vicksburg from the north, he crossed the Mississippi River, moved south through Lousiana and then recrossed the Mississippi, putting his army south of Vicksburg.  This totally went against all the rules of warfare put forth by Jomini, whose tactics were taught at West Point.  Grant had cut off his own supply and communications lines and put his army in a position that put two enemy armies between him and his base and also put the Mississippi River at his back.  Grant himself said in Memoirs that he was a poor student and it is probable that he never read the theories of de Jomini, which is why he stood out above all other Union generals.  Anyway, Pemberton offered an armistice for the purpose of a commission just like Buckner did and Grant responded similarly: ” “The useless effusion of blood you propose stopping by this course can be ended at any time you may choose, by the unconditional surrender of the city and garrison.”  Pemberton accepted and Vicksburg fell on July 4, 1863.  It was militarily probably the most significant victory of the Civl War but it fell on the same day as the conclusion of Gettysburg, so  publically its been lost to much historical commentary.

US Grant Rise to Lt. General Followed Initial Confederate Invasion into Kentucky

Unfortunately, the presentation of Ulysses S. Grant has been rather lousy in American history classes.  We are told that he was a drunk, that he was the “butcher” as a general due to the large losses his armies sustained and that his presidency was one of the most corrupt in history.  Most of the time, the Grant administration is listed near the bottom of all presidential lists.  However,  US Grant rose to the level of Lt. General of the United States Army.  No one since Washington had such power.  He was re-elected for a second term and, in 1880, very nearly gained the nomination for a 3rd term as President.  He was wildly popular in the US and around the world as he took a two year journey around the world from 1878 to 1880 in which he literally was the guest of the crowned heads of Europe and other parts of the world.  His speeches were always short, but in total he spoke to millions of people around the world who came to see him. 

Grant's Way of War Lives in 21st Century; Lee's Left in Ash Heap of History

It was President US Grant who destroyed the Ku Klux Klan when he sent troops into the South and the organization did not rise again until the early 20th century.  He remains on the 50 dollar bill today, though some want to replace Grant with Reagan.  In Memoirs, Grant does not mention drinking once.  Biographers such as McFeely mention some drunken escapades.  But, given that he could not stand the site of blood and he presided over the deaths of so many men whom he saw die, it’s probably more surprising that he survived at all.  He was seen by his men as cool under fire and decisive.  U.S. Grant was not perfect, but he was far from the worst.  In fact, a good argument can be made that the American Way of War in the late 20th and early 21st centuries was invented by US Grant.  His tactics were used by Rommel and Montgomery as well as Norman Schwartzkoph in the Gulf War and the “Shock and Awe” tactics of the US in its invasion of Iraq.  The main difference was that Grant used cannon fire while the Americans in Iraq used bombers and missiles.   One can also argue that the command and control structure of the modern US military was invented by Abraham Lincoln and US Grant.

US Grant Lives on $50 Bill

Grant’s father more or less made him go to West Point.  His appointment came about due to the dismissal of someone else.  He rose to prominence in spite of his failings in civilian life and in spite of the fact that he was constantly opposed by his superior officer, Henry W. Halleck.  And is truly fitting name, US Grant came about due to a Congressman not doing his homework.  It was almost as if it were destiny.  Although historians continue to try to bury him the way Halleck tried to bury him, US Grant lives today on the $50 bill and lives on in the tactics of the United States military.  A great man who continues to fight to this day. As a side note….The Personal Memoirs of US Grant are considered the greatest presidential memoir of all and is still in print today.  The original publisher was none other than Mark Twain.

Weather Bottom Line:  Same song.  Look for more numerous thunderstorms on Sunday afternoon. Not everyone will get wet but if you find yourself under a storm, it could drop a pretty fair amount of rain.  Monday afternoon will feature probably more numerous thunderstorms than on Sunday…lets say excessively scattered.  Same story though…could have some heavy down pours in spots though a few people may get no rain at all, but might hear some thunder or feel the cool breezes from nearby storms.  Go to Cave Hill Cemetery for the Memorial Day services at 11AM. Should be dry.  If you see towering cumulous clouds by noon time, then its a fair bet that it will be active in the afternoon.

Import of Women to Seattle Eventually Gave Us Bobby Sherman
May 29, 2010

Asa Mercer

On This Date In History: Asa Mercer was already the president of Washington Territory’s first university by the time he was in his mid twenties. The Pacific Northwest had great natural resources attracting miners and lumbermen from around the nation. But…there was a scarcity of women. Mercer decided to fix that by placing an ad in a Seattle newspaper promising to find a wife for every man who paid $300 toward bringing a woman from the East. A New York magazine hailed Mercer as a modern day Moses. Skeptics suggested that the women would have nothing to do and their trade would be something less than honorable. Mercer assured that the ladies would be employed as schoolmistresses and nothing more. Those same skeptics wondered how they could all be school teachers if there were no children to teach.

Joan Blondell Well Before Her Role On Brides

Joan Blondell Well Before Her Role On Brides

Nevetheless, Mercer sailed a ship from Seattle and found he had some 300 adventurous ladies willing to take the trip. They were known as “Mercer Girls.”   However, by the time he was to set sail from New England, in January 1866, the number of volunteers had fallen to 100. I guess they had second thoughts. Those on board became even more fickle when they began romancing with the ships’s crew. When they stopped in Chile, many became enamoured with the military officer’s stationed at Lota, Chile. Apparently, one of Mercer’s ladies rode a spirited pony to the delight of onlookers such that 17 proposed marriage. So, now Mercer had to deal with women who didn’t want to leave the crew and others who didn’t want to leave their Chilean suitors. So, he set sail at night and secretly stole away…to keep his cargo from getting stolen away. When they got to San Francisco, he lost 11 who got off and never returned.

The "Mercer Girls"

On This Date in 1866, Asa Mercer arrived in Seattle with what was left of his precious cargo. Many of the subscribers who had paid $300 were chagrined when they found out that their payment didn’t guarantee a woman. One man was quite upset when the specific woman whom he had asked for showed up and turned out to be a different woman by the same name. Undeterred, the man said, “All I want is a wife, and if you are willin’ I would as soon take you as the other woman.” Such romantic overtones went unheeded as the woman replied simply, “I do not wish to marry, sir.”

It wasn’t a total disaster for the operation or for Asa Mercer. Annie Stephens from Baltimore was one of the first to be married. Her husband? Asa Mercer.

Brown (top left) and Leonard (top right) Star Trek Veterans; Blondell (top center) Former Hollywood Siren

Brown (top left) and Leonard (top right) Star Trek Veterans; Blondell (top center) Former Hollywood Siren

This little tale was no doubt the inspiration for the late 1960’s TV show, Here Come the Brides. The photo above is of the Bolt brothers, Jeremy, Joshua and Jason as well as Candy, a girl with whom Jeremy was smitten. Jeremy was played by Bobby Sherman, who was a teen idol. His acting career went no where and after watching the tv show, you might find out why. He tried his hand at singing and that too went nowhere. Joshua was played by David Soul who later was one of the rogue young cops in Magnum Force. I think Clint helped him exit the movie violently. Later he gained fame for his role in Starsky and Hutch. He capitalized on that fame by singing a stupid song that was in the top 40. Jason Bolt was played by Robert Brown who was an accomplished stage actor. He is known perhaps more by his role in a Star Trek episode in which he played a guy named Lazarus. I think that was the last we saw of him.  Jason Bolt was the oldest of the Bolt brothers and he sorta takes the place of Mercer because, in the series, it was Jason Bolt who had the ladies come to Seattle.   Maybe Brown got the Star Trek gig by way of Mark Lenard, who plays Sarek in the 23rd century but was Aaron Stemple in Seattle in the 19th Century. I have no idea who Candy was nor what happened to her.

I want to know what happened to Captain Clancy.  He was played by actor Henry Beckman and he was a ship captain who always had his eye on the barmaid, Lottie.  Lottie was played by Joan Blondell who had a long career well before the tv show and was considered a “Hollywood siren” in her youth.  It seems to me that aside from Lenard and Soul, Here Come the Brides was the graveyard for actors though it was a pretty accurate show because, like the Asa Mercer story, it didn’t seem there were too many marriages.

(Snow White thinks I am too hard on Bobby Sherman in this…I told you he was a teen idol)

NAM has less than 1/4" of precip at any given location in Ohio Valley Monday Aftrernoon

Weather Bottom Line:   While rain chances may be a little higher for the isolaed variety on Sunday, I”m not really all that enthused about the prospects.  Monday we do not have a cold front per se but it does appear that a little weakness in the atmosphere sets up over us with my conspire with afternoon heating to create scattered storms.  There is not much of a severe threat but individual storms may have the potential to drop a fair amount of rain.  Afternoon and early evening will be the best chance for any activity to mess up your Memorial Day plans.  I would think that there will be no problem for Memorial Day services at Cave Hill Cemetery at 11 AM and most likely it will be fine at Zachary Taylor Cemetery at 2 PM.  On Wednesday, a front will be moving in a zonal pattern across the north central plains.  Due to the zonal pattern, I suspect that the best chance for strong storms on Thursday will be to our north but we’ll have to see how it shakes out.

Chimp Challenges Experts For 2010 Hurricane Season Forecast
May 28, 2010

Hurricane Andrew Sequence Aug 23, 24, 25, 1992

"Dr. James Hansimian"

2010 Hurricane Season Forecast: Let us begin with the 2010 hurricane season prognastication of Dr. James Hansimian(video).   He is predicting 6 to 8 hurricanes for the 2010 season.  Never heard of him?  You probably will.  You see, he is a chimpanzee whom the National Center for Public Policy Research has put on the record in an effort to emphasize how little humans really know about the climate.  They claim that NOAA has been “wrong three out of the last 4 years and 7 of the last 11.”  They say they are not hiring “Dr. Hansimian” to ridicule  the effort and dedication of climate and hurricane specialists but instead to highlight that, even with the greatest minds, competence, tools and methodology, humans do not have a complete understanding of the climate.  They say that they will make another video in December 2010 of Dr. Hansimian and determine who was more correct.  In the meantime, let us look what some of the leading authorities have to say. 

Hurricane Headlines Used to Contain Facts, Not Sensational Hyperbole

Now, I already had a pretty good idea of what the National Hurricane Center would say.  What is amazing to me though is the media coverage.  I looked at the headline from USA Today and it says, Fierce Hurricane Season Predicted.   CNN had a story about the exact same subject but its link was a more subdued, “Hurricane Season Could be Above Average.”   Nevertheless, the actual headline to the story was a more menacing, “Hurricane Season Could be ‘Active’ or “Extremely Active.'”  AFP via Yahoo News was even more dramatic by trumpeting, “2010 Hurricane Season May Be Worst on Record.”   But, Reuters via Yahoo News had a little different spin as its headline read, “Government Warns of Worst Hurricane Season Since 2005.”   Fox News says, “Hurricane Season Could be Strongest Ever Say Top Meteorologists.”  I have yet to find any quote from anyone at NOAA or the NHC that verifies any  of these headlines except fo the one from CNN, which not-coincidentally is the least sensational.   Interestingly, CBS4 in South Florida took a different tact.  Instead of focusing on the threat to the United States, instead its headline was, “NHC Director Fears For Haiti This Hurricane Season.”  That one is right on the money.  A tropical cyclone for Haiti of any magnitude would not be good and they get nailed in one form or another very frequently.

Atlantic Hurricane Season Names 2005 to 2010 (In 2005 they ran out of names so went to Alpha, Beta...etc.)

So, what did was the National Hurricane Center 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast on May 27?   To begin with, the press release from the NHC had a headline that read, “NOAA Expects Busy Atlantic  Hurricane Season.”  Note that this headline lacks the hyperbole and extreme adjectives of the media.  As usual, they give themselves a wide berth by saying that there will be between 14 and 23 named storms.  That would be tropical cyclones of tropical storm force or more.  The difference between 14 and 23 is pretty large.  Eight to 14 of those storms are expected to be hurricanes with 3 to 7 becoming major hurricanes which means category 3 or greater.  For the past several years, NOAA taking some of the thunder from the NHC.  I believe they are in the process of changing the name of the NHC to the NOAA National Hurricane Center; I suppose it’s an effort to establish that its a governmental agency.  In any event, the initial quote from their press release is not from an NHC forecaster or the Director.  Instead, its from the Under-Secretary of Commerce, who said, “If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record.”   Notice she said “If” and “could” and related it to “one of the more active” seasons.  The reason they give is warm ocean waters, no El Nino and a decadal cycle.  The last one is the most significant.  Accepted science generally has concluded that the Atlantic season goes in cycles of about 30 years in which there is great activity and, conversely, 30 years with low activity.  Since 1995, we have been in an “active era.” 

2005 Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Tracks

Now, the 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season was the most active in recorded history.  Keep in mind that it fell in part of the current “active era” and that recorded history is limited.  The first hurricane tracked by satellite was Hurricane Camille in 1969 so prior to that, only ship reports were able to confirm hurricanes and ships kinda like to avoid storms so its possible there were several over the years that were missed.  Anyway, in 2005 there were 28 named storms with 15 hurricanes including the two notable powerful storms, Rita and Katrina.  That means, in order for the headlines of some of these media outlets to be accurate, the 2010 hurricane season would have to have 5 more named storms than the top end of the forecast and one more hurricane than the extreme forecasted.  The headlines also neglect to take into account a very important and possible caveat from the press release that could put a damper on the number of storms:

“The main uncertainty in this outlook is how much above normal the season will be. Whether or not we approach the high end of the predicted ranges depends partly on whether or not La Niña develops this summer,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “At present we are in a neutral state, but conditions are becoming increasingly favorable for La Niña to develop.”

Dr. William Gray: Making Hurricane Season Forecasts for At least 27 Years

Now, for 27 years one of the leading hurricane forecasting expert has been Dr. William Gray from Colorado State University.  Until recent years, he was about the only one who tried to make a forecast.  The NHC lately has been getting into the game and diminishing the role of Dr. Gray.  Dr. Gray is now has handed over some of the duties to Dr. Phil Klotzbach and the pair lead the efforts at Colorado State.  Back in early April, the Colorado State University  team issued their 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast and noted warm ocean temperatures and a weakening El Nino as the reason for a more active season.  However, their numbers are more pedestrian.  They suggest 15 named storms with 8 becoming hurricanes and 4 of those becoming major hurricanes.  They go a step further and say that there is a 69% probability of major hurricane striking the US which is higher than the 52% of the 20th century.   Another tropical cyclone forecasting service, Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) has 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season Forecast is somewhere in between the NHC  and  CSU with 16.3 (+/- 4.1) named storms, 8.5 (+/- 2.8) hurricanes and 4 (+/- 1.7) major hurricanes.

Atlantic Hurricane Tracks 1851-2005

On average, the number of named storms in any given year in the North Atlantic is 10 (9.6) with 6 (5.9) hurricanes and 2.3 of those becoming major hurricanes.  So, both forecast teams are predicting an above average season.  It would seem that the folks at CSU might be a looking on the low end with an eye on the El Nino not diminishing completely to neutral until after the hurricane season has started.  The NHC seems to be banking on the El Nino coming to an end sooner, or at least allowing for that possibility, thus they have the substantially larger number of storms on the high end of their range.  But, again….Dr. Gerry Bell’s words make it sound as if they think that a La Nina condition developing is a real possibility.  The two forecasts are almost identical except that the NHC gives itself a wide berth so, if by chance there are a bunch of storms, then they can say they said so.  They also can avoid making any huge revisions as the season progresses as has been done with some initial hurricane season forecasts in the past.  The truth is, it’s just a forecast.  We’re in the middle of an active 30 year cycle and so its expected to be more active.  How much more active is an academic exercise.  In the first place, it’s impossible to predict so far out any specific disturbance developing in exactly the right conditions.  Remember, you need more than just warm water to have a tropical cyclone.   Also, just because a tropical cyclone develops, it doesn’t mean that it will hit land.  A tropical cyclone’s job in nature is to transport heat and moisture from the tropical region to the polar region.  They don’t really care if there is land in the way or ocean. 

Just Because It's a Headline, Doesn't Mean that It's True

And one more thing….note that nothing was said about Global Warming in either the Colorado State University forecast or the National Hurricane Center outlook.  They do refer to a warm surface temperature anomoly, but that is about as close as you get.  And, if it were due to Global Warming or Climate Change, then it would stand to reason that there would be more tropical cyclones all around the world.  As it happens, the NHC forecasts a Below Average Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season.  Beyond that, Tropical Storm Risk (TSR) has a 2010 NW Pacific Typhoon Season Forecast that is near average.  TSR also has a forecast for the Australian region for tropical activity to be about 10% below average.  Going by the forecasts…well above average for the North Atlantic, below average for the Eastern Pacific and Australian region and about average for the NW Pacific.  Doesn’t sound like a global climate calamity, does it?  So, if the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season does have a signficant number of hurricanes, get ready for the media reports that try to tie it to Global Warming.  But, don’t believe it.  And, if the number that actually does come about is less than forecast (as was the case in 2009) then look for an explainer, which the NHC has already conveniently put out there.  See, they’re pretty smart.  If the season is slightly above average, they can say, “we said so.”  If its way above average, they can say, “we said so.”  And if the number of storms is less than the predicted range, they can say, ” we warned you about a possible La Nina.”  All the bases are covered.  That’s what a lot of guys on TV do as they can always claim victory, no matter what, when they say “Variable cloudy skies and a 50% chance of rain.” 

NAM Friday Evening Precipitation Forecast

Penn's Store in Gravel Switch, KY Since 1845

Weather Bottom Line:  I had to go to Gravel Switch Kentucky to help the folks at Kentucky’s oldest store, Penn’s Store.  Actually, it’s not just Kentucky’s oldest store, it is considered the oldest country store in America.  I am told that it began operation in 1845, though I’ve seen published reports that claim 1850.  But, I think I’ll go with the word of the Penn family.   About a month ago, when Tennessee was getting relatively sparse coverage of flooding, Kentucky got even less coverage.  Of course, South Central  Kentucky only got 11 inches of rain and parts of Tennessee got 15-20 inches so I suppose that it fits that if Tennessee got slim coverage, then Kentucky got none.  Anyway, I was helping them clean up and rid the store of a snake and so I could not post on Thursday when the NHC  Hurricane Forecast came out.  So, I’m a day late.

GFS Monday Evening Precip Outlook

I did see a few towering cumulous clouds late in the day…about the time I was playing St. Patrick and ridding the Penn’s Store of a 4 or 5 foot snake.  On our return to Louisville, there were some pretty decent wind gusts and it was much cooler, leading me to believe that there were some decent thunderstorms around, which did not surprise me.  The weak boundary will still be in the area on Friday so we will see some scattered storms again with highs in the mid 80’s.  We warm a bit over the weekend with highs in the mid to perhaps upper 80’s.  We may have an isolated t’storm on Sunday but more likely there will be scattered afternoon storms on Memorial Day.

Great American From Cinema Still Going Strong at 103
May 26, 2010

John Wayne: American

Marion Morrison on the USC gridiron

On this Date in History:  John Wayne got fired on April 5, 1931 by Fox studios.   He mainly grew up in Lancaster, CA which later became known as Glendale.  He had a dog named Duke and, for some reason, the local firefighters would see the kid and his dog and so they started calling the youngster “Duke.”    He was a star football player at Glendale High School and went to USC on a scholarship.   But, he suffered an injury while body surfing at Newport Beach, CA and his athletic career came to an end.  To help pay his tuition, the now former tackle took a job at the Fox Hollywood movie studios.  He intially did manual labor at  but,  after two years, he quit school and in 1928 signed on with Fox. I guess the honchos at Fox didn’t see much of a future for him as he had several small roles but did star in The Big Trail in 1930.  

Jimmy Stewart, John Ford and John Wayne

He had been using the name Duke Morrison, taking the name of the dog and the nickname that the firemen had given him.   A director at Fox, Raoul Walsh claims he “discovered” Wayne and suggested he use Anthony Wayne, after a Revolutionary War Hero. Fox studios thought it sounded “too italian” so Walsh suggested John Wayne.  The first movie in which “John Wayne” appeared was The Big Trail.   He had befriended John Ford early in his career and after making several lousy movies for several years for Lonestar/Monogram pictures, including parts as a singing cowboy, Ford cast him in Stagecoach in 1939. The legend of John Wayne was born.

Dern as the Notorious Longhair

Dern as the Notorious Longhair

Duke Gives Dern ("Longhair") Some Real Justice

Duke Gives Dern ("Longhair") Some Real Justice

In short, Fox blew it. But they can claim to have at least given him his final name. See, he was initially given the name Marion Robert Morrison. But his parents had another child and they wanted to call him Robert. So, they changed Marion’s middle name to Michael. Then he became Duke and finally John Wayne. I suppose Fox probably trumpets that they gave John Wayne his name and Raoul Walsh claims he “discovered” Wayne but the truth is that Fox fired a treasure, both in culture and at the box office, and John Ford created Wayne. In my book, Fox Studio chief Winfield R. Sheehan and Bruce Dern and the bartender in The Shootist are all linked together in the netherworld. Sheehan fired John Wayne, Bruce Dern shot him in the back in The Cowboys as did the bartender in The Shootist. The trio are definitely the biggest scoundrels in cinematic history!!! 

Can You Believe that Someone is Trying to do a remake of True Grit? A travesty and a mistake.

The biography says that the legend of John Wayne was born with The Big Trail.   Nevertheless, the fact is that on this date in 1907, Marion Morrison was born in Winterset, Iowa and so the man we know as  John Wayne turned 103 today. I would say that “if he were still alive” but through his films, he is still alive and always will be. He’s been dead since 1979 but his name still shows up on the top ten of movie goers favorite movie stars. On some lists, he is the only deceased star to still be a top-ten star.   However, AFI only lists him as the 13th biggest male star of all time.  What do they know?  I have been watching lots of John Wayne movies over the past few weeks. I’ve seen Chisum three times in recent weeks…like I already don’t know all of the lines.  Alot of the same guys in that movie were also in Big Jake, including Robert Mitchum’s son.  Wayne’s own son, Patrick Wayne was in Big Jake.

John Wayne Legacy Lives On in Film and the John Wayne Cancer Institute(click for profile)

Of his 175 films,  John Wayne’s character only died in 7 of them.  As I mentioned,  he was killed in the most dastardly of manners in The Cowboys and The Shootist.  He goes down as a hero as Davy Crockett in The Alamo as well as in Sands of Iwo Jima.  Wayne’s character also takes the deep six in Wake of the Red Witch, The Fighting Seabees and Reap the Wild Wind in which he is taken out by a giant squid.  But, most of the time, he played heroic figures that inspired patriotism, toughness and doing the right thing.   I think there is the implication that he went down with the ship in Sea Chase.  He dies in a few others but no one sees it.  In The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance,   we see him kill Lee Marvin to save Jimmy Stewart but he’s last seen all bent out of shape because Stewart stole his girl.  I don’t count this one because we only see his coffin as he died from old age.  But still, he was a heroic, self sacrificing figure.  He did not serve in World War II but did his part at home by raising money for bonds and also performing in films showing the heroism and dedication of the American soldier.  Off screen, he was diagnosed with cancer but fought it publically.  He had part of his lung removed and continued to  make films as well as public service commercials highlighting the dangers  of smoking.  He finally succumbed in 1979 and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.  He did not serve in the armed forces but he inspired many an American in life and death. It’s probably pretty fitting that his birthday is on or near Memorial Day; a life memorial to all that America has been and can be again. 

Thursday Evening

Weather Bottom Line:  If you noticed on Wednesday afternoon there was quite a bit more vertical development of the cumulus clouds than in previous days.  That tells me that any cap that was out there has been eroded somewhat and I would think that with the approach of a frontal system on Thursday that a combination of heating and moisture with the weak front in the region would elevate our rain chances from the isolated category to scattered.  Now the front is pretty lame and so it will be slow to move through.  Most of the energy associated is well north so severe prospects would be limited.  I would think that Thursday evening will be our best chance for rain and t’storms with perhaps some gusty winds.  Because the boundary is hanging around to our south, we may get some stuff Friday afternoon with the heat of the day.  Saturday there is still somewhat of an inverted trof nosing into the Ohio Valley but I’d pretty much discount this because high pressure will be building in.  It should be a tad cooler with highs in the low 80’s and humidity levels decreased.  In short, the Memorial Day Weekend looks pretty good. 

I’m not even going to mention Invest 90. It was bogus and still is.

Pioneer Makes Son’s Corpse Focus of Teachable Moment
May 25, 2010

William Keil

Like Yogi, Keil was Not Your Average Bear

On This Date in History:  William Keil  was an immigrant from Germany and worked as a tailor and a medical practioner.  He had been a Methodist but turned to mysticism.  So, like Yogi, he was not your average bear.  He possessed a very strong personality and fully expressed his religious convictions such that people readily followed his words and actions.  He seems like a pretty educated man, but he was considered something of but a shade north of literate.  Nevertheless, he established a colony at Bethel, Missouri in 1844 and took the reigns as the community’s leader. 

According to this book, Not Everyone Was Happy in the Bethel Colony

The Bethel Colony  was about 45 miles west of Hannibal, MO and mainly consisted of German immigrants and was intended to be a utopian type society.  However, unlike other such experiements such as the one in New Harmony, Indiana, the Bethel Colony was reasonably successful.  Apparently, it was not successful enough to meet Keil’s liking as he felt ever crowded by secular society that continued to flow in from the East.  I suppose he knew how the American Indians must have felt.  So, he sent scouts west almost as far as he could.  The scouts staked out a claim in the Washington Territory and Keil decided that he would lead a part of the colony to a new location. 

Keil as a Young Man. Kinda Scary lookin'?

William Keil promised his son, Willie, that he could have the honor of leading the wagon train.  But, shortly before their departure, the 19-year-old Willie fell victim to malaria.  Willie’s death delayed the planned early May 1855 departure date but it did not derail the entire mission nor did it cause William Keil to break his promise.   Instead,  Keil led the first wagon from the Bethel Colony which included the preserved corpse of his son.  He did not do as a sentimentalist but instead he used his misfortune as what we might refer to as a “teachable moment.”  Keil carried the preserved corpse across the continent to illustrate to his followers the strength of the bond of a man’s word.  He promised Willie that he could lead the wagon train and I suppose that meant dead or alive. 

Marker Near Willie's Grave

 So, on this date in 1855, the bearded, somewhat rotund, Keil let loose a blast from his trumpet to signal the departure from the Bethel Colony with Willie’s coffin in the lead.  But, it was no ordinary coffin.  It was a lead-lined version and was filled with whiskey so as to preserve the body.  Colonists followed and sung funeral hymns.  If they sang all the way to Washington, it must have been the longest funeral cortege in history.  Apparently, they did so for some length of time because the Indians whom they passed along the way left them alone out of respect,  fear or awe, or in a combination of all three.

Band Behind Pioneer Hotel ca. 1877 in Aurora, Oregon

In October 1855, the colonists reached their destination.  But, Keil wasn’t too happy with the location staked out in the Willapa Valley.  He thought that it was totally unsuitable for settlement.    Nevertheless, after a five month journey, Willie finally found his resting place as the long overdue funeral ceremony took place.  Keil was almost out of money but not energy and he led the group into the Oregon Territory.  There they founded the colony of Aurora.  He acheived his objective of establishing a new colony and he kept his promise to his son.   Today, Aurora, Oregon is about 20 miles from Portland and has about 700 residents.

Not Much to Investigate with Invest 90

Invest 90 Spaghetti Model Track Shows Media's Folly

Weather Bottom Line:  To begin with, lets get the Non-Tropical Low off the SE Coast out of the way.  As I said yesterday, all of the hype in the media is way over board and if this were three months from now no one would be covering it or even really making mention.  The Weather Channel has a crew down on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and they talk about 3-5 foot waves and very little beach erosion.  The guy said something about “out bands” of rain, which is nonsense because it’s not a tropical system.  The National Hurricane Center has gone down to just a 10% chance of it developing into a subtropical cyclone, let alone a tropical system.  If you look at the spaghetti models you see that none of them take the system on land anywhere except one that wants to carry it to Europe.  Almost all of them take it east, away from the US.  It’s drifting North Northwest but is expected to turn Northeast and then at least East Northeast.  It’s a non-story except for those who want to drive ratings or to alerty people that the hurricane season is near.  I’ll post the various hurricane forecasts on Thursday.

Friday 8 AM

As for our region…same old thing.  Upper 80’s and a very small chance of isolated afternoon t’storms.  My guess is as we go into the week deeper, there will be a cap developing and that will most likely  diminish the already low prospect of isolated activity.  When you see on TV a 20% chance, that’s the old CYA forecast, just in case.  I do not think that the conditions warrant that high of a percentage.  But, when we get to Friday, a frontal boundary should be here and that will help lift this humid mess and provide a chance for rain and t’storms.  Perhaps elevating chances ahead of it on Thursday night and then carrying into Friday as I suspect this guy will be moving rather slowly by the time it gets here.   Then, for the weekend, it should be closer to seasonal temperatures.

Always Alert, Samuel Morse’s Success Came From Unlikely Origin
May 24, 2010

Finding Success can be an Enigma...ask William Tell

Finding Success can be an Enigma...ask William Tell

I guess Morse Ended Up Finishing His Lafayette Painting

I guess Morse Ended Up Finishing His Lafayette Painting

On This Date in History: In 1810, a young man graduated from Yale and immediately went to England to study art. He created a giant painting and a small sculpture and called them both “the Dying Hercules.” These were his most significant works and I suppose that he figured that was the best he could do and so he came home to America. He decided to paint portraits for a living. He had some works that were considered outstanding including one of Lafayette and other historical figures that were recognized for the extreme detail. Among his portraits of famous people was one of Eli Whitney. The young man gained a pretty big reputation but also was known as a man with a small income. That makes me think that if he was such a big painter, then maybe he would figure out that he needed to charge more for his paintings. I guess perhaps his reputation was good at the price he charged. Had he charged more, then maybe he wouldn’t have been so popular. Well, its a good thing for him, and for the rest of the world, that he had other pursuits to relieve his creative mind.

Signal Flags Were Still Used in Spanish American War When Other Communications Were Not Practical

The word “telegraph” derives from the Greek word, “to write far.” Pretty good description. Before there was electricity, there was a communication system that fit that description. It was in the form of tall poles that put up different arms and other signals. It could be seen at a distance. It was used during the Battle of Waterloo to let the folks know back in London what was going on with the struggle against Napoleon. I suppose that has its use but for long distances, you probably would need a series of big poles with a guy hanging around each one and waiting for a signal to be seen from one direction so he could then relay it to someone in the other direction. I suppose it was better than nothing and probably faster than relying on a guy on a horse, like Paul Revere…though Paul was pretty fast and he could travel at night, which obviously was a limitation for this early form of “telegraph.”

1844 First Telegraph Receiver

1844 First Telegraph Receiver

So, along comes electricity. Now, a bunch of inventors had figured out the basic principals involved but it was left to the somewhat successful American painter, Samuel Finley Breese Morse, to understand the practical application of those principals and the first to take pragmatic steps to invent a way to take exploit those principals. While at Yale, Morse had taken a keen interest in electricity but was lured by his love for art. He studied under Benjamin West and Washington Allston, who were considered two of the better painters of the day. He got married in 1818 but, while he was working on his painting of the Marquis de Lafayette, he got news his wife died. He left the painting unfinished and became an artistic recluse in his grief. But an odd thing happened, in his grief, he rediscovered his interest in electricity. He attended some lectures of academics but eventually returned to art.

William Cullen Bryant by Morse

William Cullen Bryant by Morse

In 1829, he went back to Europe to study art.  Had he not done that, he may never had received the inspiration of the telegraph. You see…in 1832 he was on board a ship returning to America when he came upon some scientists who were discussing the properties of electricity. One man queried whether electricity lost its velocity over a long distance. When another remarked that in Ben Franklin’s experiments, he had noted that a captured electrical current traveled over several miles of wire without any time differential as the reaction at the end of the wire seemed to be coincidental with the intialization of the current. That statement triggered the small spark of inspiration in Sam Morse’s head.

Old Sam Looks Like a Decorated Warrior

Old Sam Looks Like a Decorated Warrior

That left Morse with a tough choice. If he wanted to immerse himself in electricity, then he had to give up painting but, with no painting, he had no income. He was already rather poor, often skipping meals for extended periods or depending on the help from friends. In 1835, he was granted a teaching position in the Art Department of the State University of New York. That gave him access to the facilities and faculty at the University and afforded him the opportunity to expand his electrical research. With the help of a colleague, he made numerous successful experiments and developed a code of communication, known today as the Morse Code. In 1842, Morse went to Washington to build a telegraph line. In early 1843, he convinced Congress to grant him $30,000 to build a line from Washington to Baltimore. And finally, on this date in 1843, Samuel F.B. Morse demonstrated his telegraph to the world. His friend, Miss Ellsworth, came up with the first words to be transmitted. It was “What Hath God Wrought?” Indeed…what? It was the beginning of the information age that eventually progressed from communications by telegraph to radio to television and now the internet. All because a painter became heartbroken by his wife’s death and because he had run off to Europe as part of his grief.

I suppose, this might be an example of “don’t give up.” Difficult situations today might make you say “why me?” or make you angry. But, it could be that circumstance that proves necessary for your later success and happiness.

Weather Bottom Line:  Everything is going right along as scheduled.  However, it got a bit warmer sooner than I expected. Snow White and I were out and about on Sunday afternoon.  Even though we officially hit 90, I think just about everyone was in the mid to upper 80’s since no one lives at the airport where they decided a few years ago to keep the official records.  Necessarily, that means that the temperatures will be hotter.  It’s going to be very difficult for Louisville to break all time low temperature records.  Anyway, my thinking was that there would be so much humidity that it would be difficult to get to 90 this week and I still think that is the case.  But…whatever.  Its going to be pretty warm and humid.  Having said that, isolated afternoon t’showers will be possible..the exception not the rule. One way you can tell if they are going to be an issue if, at noon time you see any towering cumulus clouds. If you do, then there is a good bet that there will be storms in the afternoon.  If not…if you just see puffy cumulus or ones that are kinda flattened out, that would suggest that there is somewhat of a cap and that storms aren’t likely.  Now, at the end of the week, there is a frontal boundary that will be approaching that may bring a better chance for general rain and t’storm activity. 

This is What the actual satellite photo of the Atlantic and the disturbance looked like on May 24 2010

As mentioned yesterday, there is a little system north of the Bahamas.  I’ve seen it show up on the models for several days.  Generally they only take it to 1004 mb and keeps it meandering offshore of the SE US before it scoots away.  I found several news outlets though that, last Friday, claimed that we could have a tropical storm over the weekend.  The Palm Beach Post said “…there’s a chance the first storm of the season will form this weekend.”  That was such nonsense except that 1% chance I suppose qualifies as a “chance.”  There was nothing to suggest that.  Even the guy from the local NWS office didn’t say that. They just made it up. And they weren’t alone.  It’s headline writers and producers in news rooms that often give meteorologists a bad name because they write things that are not accurate. 

This is the photo the TV station uses in association with a story that says absolutely nothing about a tropical storm, tropical depression or hurricane. You decide using this old photo is a responsible act.

Now, WXJT in Jacksonville has one of several headlines put out by various media outlets today that are just as far off base.   They show a picture of a very mature and completely developed hurricane, which who knows when that was taken, but its not this one and they know it but a casual reader may not.  All they see is the photo and a headline that reads,  “Tropical System Brewing in Atlantic?”  If the TV station bothered to read the first sentence of the special statement put out by the National Hurricane Center (found below) it says “…the non-tropical low pressure system….”  That should answer their question mark. They suggest that there is less than a one in three chance for it to acquire subtropical characteristics in the next few days… nothing about tropical.  Now, last night, I found one model run that wanted to run this guy off the Virginia coast and then deepen it quickly to about 984mb as it ran up  just offshore the Northeast and New England coast.  Seemed a bit odd and now that abherration is no where to be found.  Every model that i looked at today still has a 1004-1008 mb low wandering about for a few days off the South Carolina and Georgia Coast before it moves northeast.  From the satellite picture,even an untrained eye like a news producer can see it looks nothing like a tropical cyclone.  Is it possible for it to acquire those characteristics?  Yes. Probable? NO.  And it would have to become a fully developed major tropical cyclone to affect the oil slick operations in the Gulf, and that seems very unlikely…though I suppose the headline writers might say there’s a chance if I said it was .00025% chance.  They like to scare people so they will buy the news paper, read their webpage or watch their news.  Don’t worry about it.  Having said all of that, I have seen in the past where an early storm of dubious distinction was given a name with the “subtropical” modifier. I have speculated that if there is an excuse for a name, they find it early on just to make people more aware of the season’s start.  I have no proof but, I have sometimes wondered if a couple of storms have actually met the criteria and qualified for a name.  So, I won’t be surprised to see a name, deservedly or not…but either way…..there is no indication at all that it will be anything but a moot point.



Yao Ming Baby Birth Makes China Ask, How Tall? American or Chinese?
May 23, 2010

Wonder if Van Gundy Will be the Godfather?

Yao and Ye Li Could Be Parents Standing Tall

If you recall, several months ago, I reported that a certain member of the Houston Rockets was expecting to become a father as his wife was pregnant with their first child.  It was not just another basketball player.  The player in question was none other than Yao Ming whose popularity probably exceeds that of any basketball player in the world due to his giant fan-base found in his native China.  For that same reason, he probably ranks near the top of the list of all professional athletes when it comes to world-wide name recognition.  Now, when I reported on the pregnancy announcement, I had suggested that perhaps his child may be the catalyst for world peace.  While that mayor my not prove to be true, I’m not so sure there won’t be some rough spots before we get to that point.  See, Yao and his wife, Ye Li  had a baby girl on May 21, 2010.  But, here’s the catch: the little girl was born in Houston.  That means that, by birth, she is an American citizen.  But, China forbids dual citizenship and both of her parents are Chinese citizens.  Hmmm…could be a bit of international intrigue before we get to my ideals of global cooperation. For months now, stories have circulated concerning fans in China asking if the child would be a Chinese citizen.  So far, I believe the answer, if there is one, remains in the minds of the parents. 

Tale of the Tape: Speculation Regarding Height of Ye Li and Yao's baby

 At the time of the pregnancy news, the China Daily ran a story regardling speculation of how tall the child would be given that Ye Li is 6’2″ and Yao is 7’6″.  For the record, the baby came in at a fairly pedestrian 7 pounds 6 ounces (though some sources claim 9 ounces).  In the meantime, there have been several birth announcements in the press.  Most, like the USA Today article, are simply reprints of the AP story.   The Houston Chronicle had its own story but it included just two short paragraphs.   The Singapore Straits Times wasn’t much more helpful.   And suprisingly, the China Daily birth announcement was also not filled with much more than anything else except for one line.  In relation to the question whether or not the child would be American or Chinese, it says the Mings consider the birth a “private” matter.  I suppose that explains why there isn’t much more news on the subject other than the child was born.  I suppose it remains for pundits to determine if that small statement is particulary telling or not.

Funeral Obsessed Frances

On This Date in History: Frances Hiller was what we might call eccentric. The 18th century woman was married to a doctor who had made a fortune from a patented medicine that he had invented. Frances bought hundreds of hats and wore costly jewelry, even when gardening. Her odd ways may have dervied from the fact that she had 23 children! She was rather economical in that department as well as the 23 kids includes 7 sets of twins. That is amazing but its also quite sad because not a single child lived beyond infancy. So, she had attended a lot of funerals, which may explain her strange story.

Hiller Financed Frances Eccentricies

Hiller Financed Frances Eccentricies

While she lived, Frances Hiller planned her own funeral which included a very ornate casket. Dr. Henry Hiller hired a famous wood carver to fashion a pair of exquisite caskets. But, Hank went and died in 1888 before the caskets were finished. So, she kept her husband’s body in a vault until the work was completed. It had hand carved vines, cupids, bats, dragons and angels, which seems like a display of contrast. Perhaps the angel was slaying the dragon. If the angel was doing battle with the large reptile, it would have to watch out for the skull that featured lizards crawling out of the eye socket. When the finally got around to burying Henry, he was taken in his fabulous casket in a procession that marched to the sounds of a military band and was escorted by a procession of 2000 people.

In 1893, she married her chauffer…..a boy toy perhaps? I dunno but part of the deal was the guy had to change his name to Henry Hiller. I suppose thats not a bad trade from being a chauffer to being married to a rich widow. Anyway, she was married but kept her casket handy…even on display in her parlour. She would climb into it and show visitors how she would look when she was dead. She even had a life-sized wax replica of herself made to place in the casket so she could see what she’d look like six feet under. Finally she died in 1900 and I bet the chauffer didn’t sign a pre-nuptual agreement so he made out pretty well.

Such an Eyesore Even Photographers Kept their Distance

So, she finally got her wish and made it to the casket on this date in 1900. It was a duplicate of the one Henry had used. The wood was of the finest quality which means it was quite heavy. It took 10 men to carry it. The funeral car was drawn by 4 black horses with black netting. The funeral car sagged terribly from the weight and almost fell apart. A journalist who was on hand said that the excitement and hoopla was only matched by the local cattle fair. Frances was placed in an enormous masoleum that were quite a site…but in 1935, they were condemned as an eyesore. The cemetery tore it down and buried the couple in their ostentatious coffins. Today, all that remains are an urn and bronze plates that mark the location. This brings to mind the old adage…you can’t take it with you.

We can use some boring weather

Weather Bottom Line:  We have a summer-like week ahead.  A big fat ridge over the eastern US will prevent any major systems coming in.  Look for highs generally in the mid 80’s for the first part of the week followed by upper 80’s thereafter.  Our dewpoints on Sunday afternoon were already  in the upper 60’s and there is no reason to think it will get any drier anytime soon.  So, with that type of moisture content and pretty warm temperatures, we may get a pop up afternoon t’shower or two each afternoon but, for most, it will be a pretty boring week ahead with any rain that falls being the exception rather than the rule.  It’s okay.  After all the rain we’ve had, boring isn’t a bad thing for awhile.  Oh…BTW…I’ve seen for many days now the models trying to put a 1008 or 1004 mb low off the SE coast of the US later in the week.  With hurricane season getting going on June 1, don’t be surprised to see this feature showing up on local and national newscasts.  The general consensus  is that the hurricane season will be more active than average, which fits into the idea that we are in the midst of a cycle of a more active tropical Atlantic which has been observed and noted for a long time before the idea of global warming came to the public conscience.  So, while there may be an attempt to connect the forecast with climate change, it may not hold water.

George Washington Preferred Cincinnatus Over King George
May 22, 2010

General Washington Would Not Be King!

Treaty of Paris-From L to R: John Jay, John Adams, Ben Franklin, Henry Laurens, William T. Franklin...the rest were too Chicken to Show up

On this date in History:  In 1782, there was some chaos in the new nation.  There was a shortage of funds to pay foreign debts and Congress was arguing about what to do.  Beyond that, while the British had surrendered at Yorktown, there was no peace treaty with the mother country and many thousands of Royal troops remained in the colonies.  Skirmishes and small battles continued on part of the frontier.  In general, the major fighting for the colonies was over but true independence would not come until November 1783 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris

Adams, Franklin and Jefferson collaborated on the Declaration of Independence But Jefferson Had the Mightiest Pen

Now, most of leaders in the colonial independence movement were from the wealthy classes and were, for lack of a better word, the elites.  Many of the founders were well educated in a classical sense and were some of the wealthiest members of society.  John Hancock was a merchant who was recognized by many historians as the richest of all those in America at the time.  General George Washington was not rolling in cash but the value of his land holdings put his net worth near the top of the list.  Thomas Jefferson enjoyed some financial success but his business decisions were not always sound.  But, his knowledge of historical ideas and his ability to master the language gave him a tremendous ability to express ideas and ideals.  John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Jefferson were charged with writing an independence declaration.  Adams and Franklin pushed Jefferson to actually pen the document because they acknowledged his greater written skills.  The ideals put forth on the Declaration of Independence were not new ideas as they had been espoused in the past, most notably by John Locke.  But, it was the way that Jefferson expressd those ideals that makes the document so remarkable.  Jefferson wrote  that “Bacon, Locke and Newton … I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical and Moral sciences.”  

George Washington considered himself a planter much along the lines of the Roman tradition of Cincinnatus.  Early in the Roman empire, the Senate ruled Rome.  In a time of war, land holders were called to come and form an army to defend the empire.  In such a time of strife, a dictator was appointed and given temporary powers to rule until the end of the conflict.  Cincinnatus was called to duty in 458 BC and successfully led the defense of Rome.  When the conflict was over,  he resigned his position and returned to his farm.  This was the Roman tradition until around the time of Julius Caesar, who never relinquished the lucrative dictator position.  When several senators got together and murdered him, assassination was introduced into the world of politics.  When Augustus came to power, he remained as dictator but returned much of the rule of Rome to the Senate in the tradition of Cincinnatus while he controled the army on the frontier of the empire.  Augustus preferred to be called “principate” or “first citizen” rather than Caesar.    While Jefferson was greatly influenced by Locke, Washington’s demeanor was patterned after Cincinnatus.   

General Washington Resigning His Commission to Congress. He Voluntarily Surrendered Absolute Power, Not Once, But Twice. The Definition of the man, his character and integrity.

In the atmosphere of an unsettled and uncertain condition that prevailed in the colonies between Yorktown in October 1781 and the Treaty of Paris in 1783,  a proposal arose from officers in the army to settle the situation by proclaiming George Washington as King George I.  He had the ability to seize absolute power since he was the well respected leader of the entire Continental Army.  And many colonists put their Faith in his hands.  Yet,  On This Date in 1782, General George Washington refused to become king when he quickly dispatched such notions, writing from his headquarters in Newburgh, NY  that no such occurrence in the war gave him ”…more painful sensations…” than such talk.  He said that viewed such expressions with “abhorrence and reprehend with severity.”   The officer who had written the proposal to the general was admonished when Washington concluded, “if you have any regard for your country, concern for yourself or  posterity, or respect for me, to banish these thoughts from your mind and never communicate, as from yourself, or anyone else, a sentiment of the like nature. ”    The word of General Washington was formidable, thus saving the Democracy before it even really got started. The Constitution was adopted in 1787 and the General became the first President in 1789.  Eight years later, for a second time,  General Washington voluntarily gave up power when he refused to be nominated for a third term even though he had been elected twice as President by a unanimous vote of the electoral college.  Not once, but twice, did General Washington refuse the temptation of absolute power.  In the tradition of Cincinnatus, he returned to his farm where he died in 1799. 

Augustus Known as Principate; Washington as Father

While we do not refer to Washington as “first citizen” like Caesar Augustus, he is commonly referred to as the “Father of the Country.”  A 1788 settlement along the Ohio River became a village in 1802 and took the name of Cincinnati in honor of George Washington, though some accounts say that the moniker was derived from The Society of the Cincinnati .  Nevertheless, the Society of the Cincinnati also was formed by Revolutionary War soldiers who wished to promote the virtues of Cincinnatus.  By extension, those were also the  virtues espoused by General Washington who served as the first President General of the Society of Cincinnatus.  And the nation has largely followed the tradition of Cincinnatus as demonstrated by Washington.   The United States has been involved in a number of armed conflicts but, more often than not, does not control territories following the end of hostilities.  More to the point, politicians followed the tradition of Washington and limited themselves to just two terms in office, until Franklin D. Roosevelt broke the tradition by being elected to four consecutive terms in office.  Shortly thereafter, the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution was ratified making the tradition of Washington the law of the land: no one can serve for more than two terms as President of the United States.

From Your Son, Dopey

From Your Son, Dopey


Many of us have our own form of Cincinnatus or George Washington who has influenced their life.  On this date a long long time ago, Robert B. Symon, Sr. was introduced to the world. And the world has been a better place for it. I’m hoping to one day live up to the old man but I haven’t quite gotten there. When I was a kid and he helped coach my football or baseball teams. the other guys on the team always told me that my dad was their favorite coach. They said he was nice. Today, I realize that is true. I think we all wish that we could be a person whom about people would say, “you know, I’m a better person for having known him” or “I’m just a little happier for having known him.”  My dad is one of the few people I know in life that I think that is the case. Come to think of it, Snow White is too. One would think that if I am surrounded and influenced by such people, some of it would rub off on me. Well, there’s always tomorrow.

Weather Bottom Line:  We had a storm that produced some funnel clouds and excitement on Friday evening.   There were also some wind damage reported in a few spots in Southern Indiana and large hail reports in Crawford, Franklin and Anderson counties in Indiana and Kentucky.   Rainfall totals were varied with some places getting around a half inch of rain while others about 3 times that in a short period of time.  It’s all over with now and look for temperatures in the mid to perhaps upper 80’s for the week ahead with rain chances being slim and none.

America’s First Woman To Serve as Combat Soldier
May 21, 2010

An Artist Rendering of America's First Woman Soldier

General Washington Was Not the Only American Revolution Hero

On This Date in History:  Lord Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington at Yorktown in October 1781.  This effectively ended the American but not officially.  That did not come about until the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783.  So, there was still plenty of fighting going on in the colonies.  Guerrilla bands raped and pillaged in the relative no-man’s land between the colonial lines at Peekskill, NY and the British boundary at Yonkers, NY.  For some reason, these marauders were known as “cowboys.”  I never understand when bad guys get monikered with the “cowboy” name because it tends to impugne the nobel profession. 

If they Knew that Deborah Would become famous, maybe they could have gotten a better artist for posterity

Anyway, in early to mid-June 1782,  there was a skirmish near East Chester, NY in which colonial Private Robert Shurtleff was slashed across his left cheek with a saber.    In early July, another skirmish broke out and this time the young Private took a musketball to the thigh.  Instead of accepting medical attention, Shurtleff crawled into nearby woods and remained until the wound healed over.  Shurtless rejoined the 4th Massachusetts Regiment and marched into battle against the Mohawk Indians in the Adirondack Mountains.  Shurtleff later came down with what was described as a “malignent fever.”  It’s possible that the fever was a result of the leg wound but most accounts suggest it was a bout of influenza.  There was no avoiding the doctor this time as Shurtleff was taken to the hospital.  Delirious with fever, Shurtleff was examined by Dr. Barnabas Biney who soon discovered that the young private was a woman!

A Little More Flattering Sketch of Deborah

Deborah Sampson was a descendant of the Pilgrims as she was related to Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford.  She felt a desire to join in the revolutionary cause and chose her course.  Trouble was, women were not allowed in the army.  So, she tried to enlist as Timothy Thayer.  Apparently, it was no problem for her to pretend to be a man as she was tall and said to be as strong as most men.  I suppose that she also could party as well as any man because she made the mistake of celebrating her enlistment by indulging at a local tavern.  I’m not sure what she did but an account says that “she all too clearly revealed her identity.”   Not only was she tossed from the army, but the church exommunicated her for “very loose and un-Christian-like” behaviour as well as wearing men’s clothes.  But, Debbie did not give up.

Statue of America's First Female Soldier

Instead, she walked 75 miles to Worcester, MA where she enlisted as Robert Shurtleff and on this date in 1782, Deborah Sampson, a.k.a. Robert Shurtleff, enjoyed her first full day in the army, having successfully enlisted for the second time the previous day. Sampson was perhaps the first woman to serve in the armed forces of America, which of course was in the Continental Army as the United States had not officially been formed.   Deborah had apparently fooled her family as, following the saber wound, she wrote home that she was working in “a large but well regulated family.”  I suppose she thought that was not a lie and, when closely examined, it could be considered a truthful statement.  The army could be considered a family and it certainly was well regulated.   Well, Dr. Biney tried to keep the secret for a while but was forced to spill the beans after his niece fell in love with the “handsome young soldier.”  

Wonder How Maj. General John Patterson Broke the News To General Washington That He Had a Girl in the Continental Army?

I’m sure that his niece was crushed to find out that he was a she. Or maybe, she was crushed because her uncle, in a letter praising Shurtleff,  told General John Patterson that Shurtleff was Sampson and Patterson told General Washington who had her honorably discharged on October 23, 1782.  When the 4th Massachusetts Regminet marched through the street in review, Deborah wore a dress as they passed and not a soul recognized her.  Later she married Benjamin Gannett of Sharon, MA and had 3 kids with him.  In 1792, she successfully petitioned for her back-pay.   You may also find references to Sampson as Deborah Sampson Gannett or as “Deborah Samson” as the family apparently originally did not include a “p” in the spelling of the name. 

Slight Risk Today Methinks Might Should be Expanded South

Methinks that Wind Might Be the Issue in Our Area just south of the 15% probability line

Weather Bottom Line:   I told you a few days ago that the unsettled weather would persist through the end of the week and today will be the last hurrah.  It could be the most active too as we are in a slight risk for severe weather.  The parent low that caused all the ruckous in the South Central Plains is lifting up from the southwest and will pass to our west.  We should be plenty warm and humid enough but it remains to be seen if we get a kicker.  My guess is that the weak frontal boundary will be able to work with reasonably favorable winds and ample instability to provide some tough t’storms.  I would think that hail and strong winds will be the biggest threat in the late afternoon but it wouldn’t be out of the question for a relatively small scale tornado to perhaps spin down off the edge of a bow echo.  I betcha we get pretty windy and have a round of heavy rain…like we need it.  But, my sunflowers certainly are doing well as is my new baby poplar tulip tree.  After this stuff passes, we will have an extended period of warm and mostly rain free weather for the forseeable future.

Kentucky Learns No Decision is the Wrong Decision; You Must Take a Stand
May 20, 2010

Houses Divided Fall but What if they Can't Decide to Divide or Not?

Even a Kentucky Civil War Battle Map is Not Too Clear

On This Date in History:  The American Civil War split the nation in two:  North vs. South, Slave State vs. Free State.  Except for one thing.  Not all of the slave states seceded from the Union.  One of those states was Kentucky.  It had been formed from the state of Virginia and, as part of the deal, Kentucky had to be a slave state.  I suppose that there were two reasons for this little clause.  One was that the politicians were generally from the wealthy class and the wealthy minority owned the vast majority of slaves.  Also, slave-holding Virginia’s legislature wanted to double its power.  Because of distance and topography, it was extremely difficult to govern such a large area stretching from the Atlantic Coast to the Ohio River.  So, they almost had to do it.  But, they also knew that citizens in the western part of the state really wanted it too.  So, they agreed to the split and, by making certain that it was a slave state, ensured two more Senators from slave states as well as an additional delegation in the House of Representatives that would be supportive of the “slaveocracy.” 

Sherman Ruled Kentucky Long Enough To Be Called Insane

Well, as previously mentioned, the vast majority of slave-holders in Kentucky were wealthy planters.  The majority of people, however, did not own slaves.  So, that made for a difficult decision for legislators when it came to secession.  Not only were there more people who did not own slaves in the state, but also the Federal government was putting great pressure to have the state of the birth of Abraham Lincoln remain in the Union.  Militarily, it was also an extremely important strategic asset for the North as whomever held Louisville could control the Ohio River at the Falls of the Ohio.  Louisville was also a big rail hub for the Louisville and Nashville Railroad and its connection to the South.  The Kentucky Legislature chose not to choose.  Instead, on this date in 1861, the state of Kentucky took a stand of neutrality.  They would officially not support the North nor the South.  It was a pretty short sighted position as I’m not sure how exactly the state thought that it could keep either side from sending troops through the state.  The fact is, they couldn’t. 

US Grant Rise to Prominence Followed Initial Confederate Invasion into Kentucky

President Lincoln was a very shrewd politician and so instead of forcing the issue, on July 10,1861 he wrote  Inspector General of the Kentucky Militia Simon B Buckner and stated that Federal Troops would not enter the Bluegrass State.  In essence he was taking the high road and probably understood that the Confederacy would not make such a claim but instead try to entice the slave state to join their ranks in some form or fashion.  If that was his thought, then he was correct because on September 4, 1861 Gideon Pillow led his Confederate troops out of Tennessee and into extreme Western Kentucky to set up fortifications at Columbus, KY.  Rebel Major General Leonidis Polk was in control of Arkansas and Missouri and he was the one who ordered Pillow into the state.  The South’s Secretary of War told Polk to withdraw but Confederate President Jefferson Davis over-ruled that order.   In reaction, Union General US Grant moved from Cairo, IL to secure Paducah and Smithfield.   Shortly thereafter, Grant started his climb to prominence with victories and Fort Henry and Fort Donnelson

Magoffin Was Stylin' With His Beard But Was Hardly a Trendsetting Governor

Obviously, neutrality was not going to work .  Both sides had violated the neutrality terms but the Confederates had started it.  Really, they had started it well before Pillow’s crossing the border.  See, Kentucky Governor Beriah Magoffin had signed the notice of neutrality but he had sympathies with the Confederacy.  So, he did nothing when Rebel recruiters came into the state.  He also did nothing when war materials were being exported South.  Lincoln, however, refrained from reacting because he was very sensitive to doing anything that might shove Kentucky into the arms of the Confederacy.  But in June elections, Unionists had won 5 of 6 Kentucky Congressional seats.  For some reason, many secessionists in the state decided it was wise to boycott the polls.  Then, in early August, Republicans won majorities in both houses of the Kentucky legislature. 

Harper's Weekly-Ohio Regiment in LouisvilleSo, it should not be surprising that two weeks after Pillow moved into Kentucky, the legislature resolved that the Confederate “invaders must be expelled!”  Magoffin resigned and that was the end of neutrality.  The Union Army designated Louisville as the home of the Army of the Ohio. At first, it was under the command of Robert Anderson of Fort Sumter fame but he was in poor health and was replaced by William T. Sherman.  Sherman kept wildly saying he needed more troops and acted so eccentrically that he was seen by many as “insane.”  His career almost came to an end but instead he was transferred under the command of Henry Halleck in St. Louis where Sherman regained his composure and later regained his reputation as the right hand man of General Grant.  Don Carlos Buell took over in Louisville and commanded about 75,000 men.  They built some 15 forts around Louisville as a defense against Confederate invasion. 

When an adversary retreats after a battle, most of the time it's seen as a victory. Buell held the field after Perryville and the Confederates never returned to the state in force. Yet, Buell was fired and many want to say the Battle of Perryville was a Confederate victory.

In 1862, Braxton Bragg led an army of about 45, 000 into Kentucky.  He was convinced that Kentuckians were just waiting to join the Southern Cause.  He moved his troops in an tried to gain recruits.  By the time he got to Mumfordville, it became apparent that was not the case.  Reporter Whitelaw Reid, who later became the editor of the New York Tribune, said that Bragg complained that Kentuckians were “shuffling middlemen” who just sat on the sidelines waiting to see which side would be victorious before making a committment.  So, he tried a political solution by going to Frankfort and holding his own gubnatorial swearing in ceremony.  Perhaps he thought that if the Confederacy swore in a Confederate governor and simply claimed the state that the citizens would follow.  Instead, the ceremony was halted early due to the report of Union cannonfire from a detachment of artillery that was sent from Louisville by Buell.  It was a hot and dry summer and both Buell and Bragg had their men go to Perryville in order to get water from a creek.  A battle ensued with the Confederates inflicting more casualties but the Union holding the ground as overnight Bragg retreated.  Bragg continued to retreat all the way out of the state, never to return.  Buell didn’t follow him and he got fired, never to serve again.

Jeff Davis Monument: No Comparison to Washington

My research revealed a historian who claims that the people of Perryville buried the Union dead and left the Confederates to rot in the hot sun.  Some 25,000 Kentuckians fought for the Confederacy while over 125,000 wore the blue uniform.  Louisville was the home of 75,000 Union troops and was defended by 15 forts against Confederate invasion.  The Kentucky legislature called for the expulsion of Confederate armies.  When given the opportunity to join Bragg’s army, Kentuckians did not respond.  William Clarke Quantrill of “Quantrill’s Raiders” fame died in Louisville after being shot and captured near Smiley, KY.  Confederate Guerilla leader Marcellus Jerome Clarke aka Sue Mundy was executed in Louisville.  Doesn’t sound like much of a Southern state, does it?  Well, after the war, as part of the “Lost Cause” effort in the South, history changed.  Many of Louisville’s elites had been associated with the South and that’s what they wanted to remember.  Louisville, home of the Army of the Ohio, has a Confederate War Memorial.  Jefferson Davis was born in the state but lived in Kentucky for just a few years before he moved to Mississippi. He did return to go to school for a few years but his life’s work was really in Mississippi.   Yet, his statue is in the state capital.  There is also monolith monument to Davis in Fairview, KY that resembles the Washington Memorial.  Not a single Union memorial is in the state.  On April 17, 1885 Louisville led the nation in a birthday celebration of the 63rd year of Ulysses S. Grant.  You can find a plaque commemorating the event on Grant’s tomb but not one word of it is in the 1896 Memorial History of Louisville.  The same is true of the decade long National Industrial Exposition yet, the 5 year Southern Exposition has an entire chapter all to itself.  No…Kentucky said it was neutral but sided with the Union.  It’s history was tied with the North.  I’ve seen a quote that says that “in 1865, Louisville was a Northern City and by 1900 it was a Southern City.”  Most Kentuckians have been raised to think it was always in the South.  Nevertheless, those of us from more southern regions know better. 

No Matter What Party of the Country you Associate Kentucky, It's a Very Interesting and Nice Place to Live

When my friend Kim Stevens, from Muscle Shoals, AL married a young man from Louisville, her family said that they guessed it was okay for her to marry a Yankee.  When Snow White and I were in Savanah, GA and discussing the war between the states with a tour guide, when she found out that we were from Kentucky she dismissed us as being Yankees.   Much of Kentucky gets from 1 to 2 feet of snow each year and annually has at least one night of near zero or below zero temperatures.  Last year, Louisville went through the entire month of July without a single high temperature in the 90’s.  The South?  No…but its not the North either, nor the Midwest or the East.  What makes Kentucky so difficult to pinpoint geographically also makes it difficult to define culturally.  And from a climatological and meterological perspective, its location makes it extremely difficult to categorize and forecast.  Perhaps that is why the state legislature could not make up its mind in 1861.  But, one thing that I think is certain, this conundrum is exactly why I think the state is a wonderful place to live.

Weather Bottom Line:  Thursday evening into Thursday night will most likely produce some pretty good storms with rain totals over an inch.  We don’t need that.  We don’t need severe storms either but most likely we will not see those but its worth keeping an eye on. Some troubling storms with wind and small hail may be on the loose in a couple of areas.  Still looks like we heat up and dry out from the weekend forward.