Archive for June, 2010

Hurricane Alex Spaghetti Models, Satellite Loops and Discussion
June 30, 2010

Click on Image for Latest Loop of Hurricane Alex IR Rainbow Image

Hurricane Alex Visible Satellite Click for latest loop image

Sometimes, we react too weakly to the prospects of a hurricane.  But, since the damage wrought by Wilma, Charlie, Ivan, Gustav, Ike and Katrina over the past few years it seems that the pendulum has swung the other way.  I believe that it is better to be very prepared so an over reaction would be preferable to lack of preparation.  However, I am concerned that we may end up with a chicken little syndrome.  The memories of Katrina and Ike and all the rest are so fresh that it’s not likely that people will become complacent soon, but recently I saw evidence that the pump may be getting primed for the public to perhaps get back into the “boy who cried wolf” state of mind. 

Hurricane Alex Spaghetti Model track 12Z June 30 2010

At the end of last week,  Alex came meandering off of the Yucatan and was intact sufficiently for it to regain its Tropical Storm status pretty quickly.  Now, it was well over 1000 miles from Houston yet the message signs on the freeways of Houston read, “Hurricane forming in Gulf. Fill your tanks.”  Now, I understand the need to alert motorists so that the city could avoid the last minute gasoline shortages that occured when Hurricane Ike was approaching the area.  But, all indications were that the storm that was so far away was going to move into Northern Mexico with the far reaching possibility being South Texas, which is still hundreds of miles away from the Houston-Galveston area.  When I first encountered those signs on Sunday, I thought “I wonder if the forecast data has changed?”  It had not.  In fact by then the modeling data had become more concentrated for a Northern Mexico landfall. 

Hurricane Alex Spaghetti Model Intensity 12Z June 30 2010

I read in the newspapers of how Alex could enter the oil spill zone.  That was not in the official forecast.  By the end of last week it was apparent that a ridge in the Gulf would not break down sufficiently or soon enough to allow the storm to turn North and if it did turn North it would be most likely to do after it made landfall in Northern Mexico as it went around the ridge.  Now, Alex is a pretty broad storm so its wind field is a bit larger than a conventional tropical storm or hurricane of its intensity so the winds did shift in the Northern Gulf region and start pushing the oil in a different direction.  And with a cold front approaching, the winds picked up resulting in some containment operations to be suspended.  But all over the radio the news was saying that Alex was the cause and that is not entirely accurate.  The approaching cold front was the real catalyst.  Then, all day long the radio news reports were saying that it was going to be a hurricane at any moment.  The word “hurricane” raises the old blood pressure a little more than “tropical storm.”  Alex did not gain hurricane status until early Wednesday morning.

Hurricane Alex NHC official Forecast Track 10AM June 30 2010

It’s good to be cautious and prepared. It’s necessary in fact.  However, there is a danger of over hyping potentialities to the point that, when its really warranted, no one will listen.  Someone asked me where Alex was going about 4 days ago and I had said that I thought that Tampico Mexico seemed like a good bet.  Then I added the caveats and the person says “so ‘they” don’t know.”   Well, “I” am not “they” and there was a fairly good probability that Mexico would be the target.  Its just that when a storm is that far out and there is so much time that variabilities in the longer term solution tend to become greater and so certainty is diminished to some degree.  But, the Gulf Ridge was so strong anything dramatically different would be really tough to have come about.  All I am saying is that it would be wise to read beyond the headlines this hurricane season.  Often, the headline does not match reality.

N. Atlantic Total Precipitable Water-Note The Dry Air coming from Africa in contrast to huge moisture available with Hurrcane Alex

The cold front that came through the Ohio Valley and knocked about 10-15 degrees off the temperatures and lowered humidity greatly is not expected to make its way all the way to the Gulf Coast.  That is tough to do this time of year and the Gulf ridge of high pressure will not break down enough for that.  The trof extends into East Texas but it really gets weak.  By early Wednesday morning, Hurricane Alex was nearly stationary as a result of it being stuck between two ridges.  It was on the western edge of the Gulf ridge with a ridge in Nebraska coming down behind the front to replace it.   That little weakness between the ridges allowed Alex to edge a bit farther Northwest as it began to gain some forward speed after sunrise.  What  will happen is that the Nebraska ridge will nose further to the South, more or less wash out the boundary over East Texas and steer Alex with a more westward trajectory.    Its not going to get to Tampico but I doubt that it gets to Brownsville.  I would think about 100 miles south of the Rio Grande River seems about right.

NASA TRMM Radar 1348Z June 30-Heavy Hurricane Alex Rain Well offshore

As mentioned before, its a very broad storm so, even though it has a central pressure in the neighborhood of 960 mb, the models really don’t intensify it that much or to the level that such a pressure has the capability to support.  Is it possible that it has a rapid intensification before landfall if it consolodates?  Yes, which is why its good to be cautious.  But its running out of time.  Hurricane Ike had a pressure that would support a much stronger hurricane but it remained a very broad storm so its maximum winds were relativley weak but the strong wind field was very large.  I suspect that will be the case with Alex.  It’s winds might get to a maximum of  say, 90 mph in isolated areas but the 45-50 mph winds may be several hundred miles away.

Parts of South Texas Have More Cows that People

Below is the official Alex discussion from the National Hurricane Center for 10AM on Wednesday June 30 2010.  Port Isabel is a lovely place on South Padre Island near Brownsville but the region is certainly not a major metropolitan area.  The counties north of Brownsville are sparsely populated with the single highway servicing places like Encino, Armstrong and Raymondville well away from the coast.  The Padre Island National Seashore is off limits to any development so once you get north of Port Isabel on Padre Island, no one lives there.  About half way between Corpus Christi and Brownsville is Kleberg County which probably has more cows than people as that county is almost entirely made up of the King Ranch.  There is a sign on the one highway that warns of no gas for many miles because it passes through the ranch.    Bottom line is that, barring some unforseen weird alteration, Alex will cause beach erosion, disruption of lives for the July 4th weekend and probably bring some damage.  I would think that the biggest threat will be inland flooding and also tornadoes, which are always a concern with a landfalling hurricane.  Its not good, its not a great thing and will be an issue for those in its path and the storm surge may cause some problems for coastal beaches and coastal marine interests…but this is no Katrina.

.

HURRICANE ALEX DISCUSSION NUMBER  20
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL   AL012010
1000 AM CDT WED JUN 30 2010

SATELLITE PRESENTATION HAS IMPROVED THIS MORNING WITH T-NUMBERS FROM
TAFB AND SAB REACHING 5.0 AND 5.5 ON THE DVORAK SCALE AND THE
MINIMUM PRESSURE HAS BEEN OSCILLATING BETWEEN 958 MB AND 961 MB.
HOWEVER…BOTH FLIGHT LEVEL WINDS AND SFMR DATA SUPPORT AN
INITIAL INTENSITY OF ONLY 70 KNOTS AT THIS TIME. LATEST
RECONNAISSANCE DATA SHOW THAT THERE ARE TWO WIND MAXIMA ON THE
NORTHEAST QUADRANT OF THE HURRICANE AND WINDS ARE SPREAD OUT IN
OTHER QUADRANTS. GIVEN SUCH A LOW MINIMUM PRESSURE…THE CURRENT
SATELLITE PRESENTATION AND A FAVORABLE ENVIRONMENT FOR
INTENSIFICATION…THE WINDS SHOULD INCREASE TODAY AND ALEX COULD
REACH CATEGORY TWO BEFORE LANDFALL.

FIXES FROM THE AIRCRAFT INDICATE THAT ALEX IS MOVING TOWARD THE
NORTHWEST OR 320 DEGREES AT 6 KNOTS. THE CURRENT WEAKNESS IN
THE SUBTROPICAL RIDGE TO THE NORTH OF THE CYCLONE SHOULD BE
REPLACED BY A RIDGE SOON. THIS FLOW PATTERN SHOULD FORCE ALEX
ON A MORE WESTWARD TRACK LATER TODAY AS INDICATED IN THE OFFICIAL
FORECAST. IN FACT…MOST OF THE DYNAMICAL GUIDANCE FORECAST A SHARP
TURN TO THE WEST OR EVEN SOUTH OF DUE WEST DEPENDING UPON THE
FORECAST STRENGTH OF THE RIDGE IN EACH MODEL. THIS TRACK SHOULD
BRING THE CORE OF THE HURRICANE TO THE COAST WITHIN THE WARNING
AREA LATE TONIGHT OR EARLY THURSDAY. HOWEVER…ALEX IS A LARGE
HURRICANE WITH TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTENDING A GREAT
DISTANCE FROM THE CENTER.  RADAR DATA SHOW THAT STRONG SQUALLS AND
GUSTY WINDS ARE ALREADY NEARING THE SOUTH TEXAS AND NORTHERN MEXICO
COASTS.

FORECAST POSITIONS AND MAX WINDS

INITIAL      30/1500Z 23.8N  95.5W    70 KT
12HR VT     01/0000Z 24.1N  96.7W    85 KT
24HR VT     01/1200Z 24.5N  98.5W    45 KT…INLAND
36HR VT     02/0000Z 24.5N 101.0W    25 KT…INLAND
48HR VT     02/1200Z…DISSIPATED

$$
FORECASTER AVILA

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Custer Made Last Stand without Long Hair or title of General
June 25, 2010

Custer Was Not A General For Long

Little Big Horn Battlefield Map

On this Date in History:  In 1875, the Native American nations in the western United States were in the process of being rounded up and forced onto reservations.  Needless to say, for people used to roaming the plains, this was not too well received.  So, a group of Sioux and Cheyenne Indians left their reservations in defiance.  The United States sent 3 columns to make a coordinated attack in an effort to  force the Indians back to the their reservation.   One of the columns was the 7th Cavalry under the command of George Armstrong Custer who was ordered not to attack without the support of the other columns.  But, on this date in 1876, he found a Sioux Indian village.  When he saw a nearby group of about 40 warriors, he decided to disobey orders and attack before the smaller group could alert the larger body of the Army’s presence.  Then he made one, if not two more mistakes.  He divided his forces into three groups with the intention of attacking from three directions in order to prevent an escape.  Beyond dividing his forces though, he failed to get a good report of the lay of the land.  The seemingly simple movement of his troops was thwarted by a series of bluffs and ravines of which Custer was unaware. 

Little Big Horn Survivors in 1886

He also was wrong about the enemy’s strength.  As it turned out, he was attacking a force that outnumbered him by about 3-1 and he was doing so with a divided army.   In the end, some of Custer’s men escaped but the column commanded by Custer himself was eventually surrounded and all the men were killed.  After the battle, the Indians stripped and mutilated the bodies because they believed that the soul of a mutilated body would be forced to wander the earth aimlessly and not get to heaven.  But, Custer’s body was stripped but otherwise not touched.  Some accounts suggest it was because the Indians respected Custer as a great warrior.  But, that seems unlikely because Custer was not in uniform. He was wearing a buckskin outfit which seems like it would be pretty hot.  So, they more than likely did not think that he was a soldier and that is why they spared him.   Another possibility is that, since Custer had cut his famous long blond locks very short for battle, that they did not bother scalping him since due to the lack of hair on the scalp.  No one really can say for certain why Custer’s body was left unmolested but it is not likely that the Indians knew that the body in question was that of George A. Custer. 

Guidon Worth 2 to 5 million dollars?

The Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana was one of the worst defeats in US Army history.  Including scouts, some 268 men were killed though 380 US soldiers survived.  One might think that this battle would be a forgettable part of US military lore but, on this date in 2010, it was announced that a momento of the Battle of Little Big Horn would be put up for auction.  The item is a flag that looks more like  pennant or a swallow-tail designed American flag.   Its real name is a guidon and it was found after the battle folded under a dead soldier.  In June 1895, the artifact was sold to the Detroit museum of Art for $54.  Today, the Detroit Museum of Art is known as the Detroit Institute of Arts and it is putting the guidon up for auction.  What was valued at $54 115 years ago is now expected to fetch somewhere between $2 million and $5 million.   After all of this time…why sell it?  Money for one and also, the museum has determined that they collect art and this battle flag is not art.  It sure wasn’t a good luck charm either for the 7th Cavalry led by Lt. Colonel Custer. 

Lt Col Custer Laying With Dog While Resting During Civil War Peninsula Campaign

You see….George Custer was not a general officer at the Battle of Little Big Horn.  He was a West Point graduate and was a Captain when the Civil War began.  He had many daring and successful escapades in the Civil War with great success at places like Gettysburg, Winchester and Cedar Creek.  He was given brevet promotions for his actions. 

Custer's Crow Indian Scouts Gather in Rememberance At Little Big Horn Grave Site

Eventually, Custer was breveted to the rank of Major-General of the volunteers.  He accepted the initial flag of surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia and was present at Appomattox Courthouse when General Lee formally surrendered to US Grant.  He was the youngest General to serve in the Union Army.  But, after the war, he was commissioned as a Lt. Colonel in the regular army, given his position with the US 7th Cavalry.   Thus…”General Custer” only existed from about October 1864 to March 1866 when he mustered out of the volunteer army.  He became a Lt. Colonel in the regular army in 1867 and between the time of his new commission and the end of his life, he survived a court martial and year long suspension.  If the army had instead discharged him, the name of George Custer might never have been so well recognized today, which might have suited Custer whose long list of gallant actions and brilliant success has been totally overshadowed by his big blunder at Little Big Horn.

Beyond BP Oil Spill: Water pollution problematic 41 yrs after river caught fire
June 22, 2010

Cuyahoga River Ablaze in 1952

Cuyahoga River Ablaze in 1952

Cuyahoga River Lit Up Again in 1969

Cuyahoga River Lit Up Again in 1969

On this date in history: In 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland was a mess. All sorts of stuff spilling into the river made it a muck of sewage and chemicals. It was yuckadoo. It was so bad that on this date in 1969, the Cuhahoga River caught fire. It’s a great example of what I complain about often today. That is, we know that our water is polluted, yet we don’t do much about it. Even Chinadaily opined in 2008 that unclean water was a global threat. But, instead, for the most part, we make jokes and post signs. This is what the story was with the Cuyahoga River. The joke in Cleveland in 1969 was that if you fell into the Cuyahoga River, you would decay before you drowned. In fact, the jokes had gone on for years because the Cuyahoga River had caught fire on previous occasions but no one did a thing. This time though, the event served as a catalyst as it finally got the attention of legislators. Global Warming may be happening, but we know that water pollution is killing the fish and wildlife in places like the Ohio River, Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico (and I’m not talking about the current oil spill), where there is a “dead zone” all around the mouth of the Mississippi River. I think its up to about 10,000 square miles at its peak. Yet, we push our attention toward the possible in Global Warming and do very little for the factual, which is water pollution.

1 out of 6 people do not have clean water

1 out of 6 people do not have clean water

The issue of water pollution in the Mississippi Watershed and others was made worse by the push toward ethanol. Increased corn production resulted in an increase in fertilizer run-off into the river. Ethanol is a zero sum game or worse when it comes to energy efficiency and global warming “causing” pollutants but is a big negative when it came to water pollution. Water makes up 68% of our bodies and is an essential part of life, yet we focus instead on the unknown. According to Charity Water, 1 in 6 people in the world do not have clean drinking water. I’d encourage you to help a family who is devoting their life to bringing water to the impovershed in the Dominican Republic. Get involved, get a tax break and maybe win a house while you help others. Let us hope that we don’t have another Cuyahoga River type disaster to get our attention regarding water pollution. Unfortunately, in many regions, the wake-up call has been made, its just that no one seems to be listening.

Water Pollution Comes From Many Sources

Water Pollution Comes From Many Sources

Anyway, as I said, the river had caught fire several times between 1936 and 1969. In the famous 1969 incident, the cause is unknown aside from the attrocious conditions of the river. Some sources say the fire was started by spontaneous combustion. Others say that definitely it did not start that way. The one below says that the cause is unknown but it suspects sparks from a passing train….I didn’t know diesel electric motor trains caused sparks. Anyway, it points out that this was the 10th time the river had ignited.

The different sources also give different dates….some say the 22nd others say the 23rd. My guess is that it started on the night of the 22nd and burned all day on the 23rd though I found one source that claimed the 1969 fire only lasted 30 minutes.   No matter. It happened and again, is an example of what can happen if one ignores pollution of waterways. This was an eye opening event and the leaders of Cleveland did more than simply post signs. They got together and worked to clean up and stop the problem.

Dead Zone Summer 2008

Dead Zone Summer 2008

Many historians point to this event as the one that got the ball rolling for the 1972 Clean Water Act. Things have improved but not enough. While,it is rather uncommon today for rivers to catch fire as they did frequently in the late 19th century, what we can’t see is killing our planet and we need to do something. Maybe if Al Gore makes a movie, then someone will wake up.

This final link of Cuyahoga River Fire facts has some interesting tid bits, including a Randy Newman song they claim is linked to the big fire.

Global Warming has been in the front burner for some time yet there are many experts (more than the media has led you to believe) who dispute much of the “consensus” opinions. About 15 years ago, the topic was ozone depletion. A couple of laws were passed and suddenly that debate left the headlines, but has the problem or risk really gone away? Hit the previous link and see the answer may be “no” its just that you don’t hear about it.

Global Warming and Ozone depletion issues are fueled by speculation and some of that speculation may have very strong merit. But, in my view, we are whistling past the graveyard regarding an issue that is real and is affecting us right now.

If you walk down along the river near the Belle of Louisville, you will see a sign warning of the pollution of the river following a rainstorm. Apparently, a heavy rain causes an overflow of contaminated water up and down the river. Our news department tells me they have reported on the problem. You can find numerous reports of all sorts pollution into the river from raw sewage to other items as pointed out by the Local Government Environmental Assistance Network:

Water is Under Attack Around the World

Water is Under Attack Around the World

Solvent cleaners and paints, mercury switches and lamps, lubricants and other wastes from operations and facility maintenance activities.
Disinfection by-products, i.e. trihalomethanes.
Corrosion by-products.
Leaking or broken lead from service lines, goose neck or service connections.
Radon in wells.
Pesticides and herbicides rinse waters and containers.
Industrial, commercial and household chemical discharges.

http://www.lgean.org/html/p2-11.cfm

Here’s the deal. We know of these problems. Most people I know who fish laugh when you ask if they eat any fish taken from the Ohio River. Report after report confirms the pollution and where its coming from. Its not speculation that marine species are disappearing due to pollution in fresh water and oceanic ecosystems. That could affect the entire water cycle. It deserves more immediate attention and action than other more publicized “crises” and certainly more than merely posting a sign.

Some other time I’ll talk about the problem of a lack of water. Its a bigger problem than you think. Hydrologists know it and so do investors who are buying up water rights and investing in private efforts to create water resources.

Note the sharp dive of the 700mb flow line from Iowa to Louisville

SPC Severe Weather Outlook Tue June 22 2010

Weather Bottom Line:  On Monday, a big MCC was rolling from west to east across Central Indiana and then suddenly took a right hand turn and ran over Cincinnati and into Central Kentucky.  The right edge of the big storms went from say Oldham County through Shelby County and then south and east.  There have been severe weather reports the last few days in Montanat, Wisconsin and around Chicago land which is how the storm track generally has been flowing around the periphery of a ridge.  When you get to Indiana, it swings more southeast and that  pattern persists today with the 700 mb flow lines looking a little more promising today than yesterday as they seem to run from Iowa straight down to Louisville.  For that reason, I would be a bit apprehensive about this afternoon and evening.  There are several shortwaves running across the plains and the orientation of the flow seems just a shade sharper down through the Ohio Valley than Monday.  Given that the Monday storms were so close, I suspect that we may have a little better chance of getting caught in the flow of one of these shortwaves or MCC’s that develop through the afternoon.  The SPC has Louisville on the edge of a broad slight risk area that traverses the plains and arcs a bit southeast. 

SPC Severe Weather Outlook Wednesday June 23 2010

Otherwise, it will be hot again.  With a  cold front approaching on Wednesday, compressional factors will probably elevate the afternoon temperatures to the highest point of the season..most likely in the upper 90’s for Wednesday.  Wednesday night the front comes through bringing a chance for t’storms.   For a day or so, our temperatures back off a little but but the boundary really doesn’t get too far South.  So, with the boundary near the vicinity, I would think that t’storm chances will carry through the end of the week.  Then, the extreme heat returns as the front moves back well north of the area.

The Great Seal of the United States Came About Through Great Effort
June 20, 2010

The Great Seal of the United States of America

Americans Love to Create Committees

On This Date in History:   When an American politician isn’t sure what to do or does not want to make a decision, he tends to set up a committee.  That way, if its a good idea, he can take credit and if it doesn’t work out so well, then he can just say he was following the committee’s recommendation.   This tradition goes back to the beginning as the founders were confounded as to what kind of symbol they wanted for their new nation.   Over a period of 6 years, three separate committees studied the situation in an effort to come up with an acceptable national coat of arms that was needed for the authentification of official documents.    So, who would be the members of such a committee.  Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson had done pretty well with a Declaration of Independence so they were given the first shot.

Jefferson's Proposal For the Great Seal Does Not Fit the Paradigm Set That He Wanted No Religion Associated With the Nation

The three creators of the declaration were appointed to the new mission just hours after the formal adoption of the Declaration of Independence.  I suppose the work of a founding father is never done.  They had turned to scholarly writings of the past for inspiration and guidance for the declaration and for a symbol, they looked to the bible and classical mythology from which to take their cues.   Now, Jefferson is often called a “Deist” or non-Christian by some modern historians so it is interesting that he proposed an image of the Israelites passage through the wilderness as they were led by a Divine cloud and pillar of fire.  Adams favored Hercules choosing between a path of virtue or self-indulgence.  For his part, Franklin proposed the likeness of Moses commanding the Red Sea to swallow up pharoah.  They were stuck.

Tough To See: Du Simitière's sketch of his rejected proposal for the Great Seal

So, they called on the help of a consultant.  A Philadelphia artist who hailed from Switzerland, Pierre Eugene Du Simitiere, told them that the greatest virtue of the United States was that it was a new nation forged together by many people of differing backgrounds.  So, he suggested a giant shield that featured the emblems of the 6 most common European nations of most Americans origin.  Around that shield was 13 smaller ones to represent the 13 states, linked by a gold chain.  Holding up the shield were the goddesses of Justice and Liberty.  Above all of that was the Eye of Providence and on the bottom was the motto, E Pluribus Unum, which means “Out of Many, One.”  The committe chose Franklin’s Moses idea for the back and Du Simitiere’s idea for the front.  But, the Continental Congress must not have thought that these guys would come up with something so quickly because they were preoccupied with the Revolutionary War and tabled the issue.   A few years later, in 1780, a second committee was formed and they chose a front side of a shield with 13 stripes that was held up by a soldier and a woman holding an olive branch.  The crest featured a constellation of 13 stars.  On the back was an image of the Goddess of Liberty.  Apparently no one liked that one either because it wasn’t tabled; it was rejected out of hand.

Perhaps Charles Thomson is Ultimately Responsible For the Final Design of the Great Seal. This Engraving of Thomson Was Created by None Other than Pierre Eugene Du Simitiere

In 1782, they tried again.  This time they turned to William Barton who was an authority on heraldry.  He came up with a front side of a European eagle within a crest and for the reverse side, he proposed an incomplete 13-stepped pyramid.   By this time, the Continental Congress had all sorts of designs and so they just shoved them all over to the Secretary of Congress, Charles Thomson.  Thomson took a little bit of this and a little bit of that from each idea to synthesize them into a single entity.  He kept E Pluribus Unum from the first committee, the olive branch and shield from the second committee and the third proposal of an eagle and a pyramid.  But, he decided to substitute a rising American Bald Eagle for the European Heraldic Eagle.  He made the grand bird of America the centerpiece with a constellation of 13 stars above its head to support the motto E Pluribus Unum.  He put the shield with the stripes on its chest with the stripes on the shield arranged vertically and he raised the eagle’s wings.  He placed the olive branch in one of its talons and in the other he had the bird clutching 13 arrows.  I guess he wanted to add his own personal touch.  On the reverse side, the unfinished pyramid found a home, topped by the Eye of Providence with the  latin phrase Novus Ordo Seclorum below and the latin Annuit Coeptis above.  On this date in 1782, the Continental Congress instantly approved the design of the Great Seal of the United States.  Seven years later, the first federal Congress similarly adopted the seal and placed it in the custody of the nation’s first Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, who may or may not have still been seeting over his Israelites in the wilderness idea being rejected.

Conventional wisdom is that the Eye of Providence and Annuit Coeptis, which means “He has favored our undertaking”, as a symbol of the Founders’ Faith.  The  eye  was put in a radiant triangle which is an ancient symbol of humanity’s accumulation of knowledge.  The constellation of stars bunched together as one illustrates the motto (which is found just below) and the radiance that shines through is emblematic of the new nation taking its place among the others.  The eagle is a symbol of power with the 13 stripes on the shield represents the unification of the 13 original states.  The arrows in the talons shows America’s ability to make war with the olive branch and its 13 leaves and 13 fruits indicating the power to make peace.  I’ve also heard it suggested that the arrows and  olive branch symbolize the idea that the nation makes peace through strength.  The unfinished pyramid symbolizes the unfinished nation as one of strength and endurance.  The base is adorned with 1776 in roman numerals.  Novus Ordo Seclorum means “A new order of the ages” and proclaims the rise of the revolutionary concept of a nation founded on freedom.

The Ideas of the Symbols of America by Emmet Fox Are Detailed in "Alter Your Life"

Now, over time many people have tried to come up with almost conspiratorial ideas about these symbols as they suggest some sort of secrets hidden in Freemasonry.  But, I found an interesting take by an early 20th century theologian named Emmet Fox who took the position that America is part of God’s plan; that in order for people to have the freedom to know the singular God, they have to have political freedom.  Hence, the United States provided that conduit.  Fox says that the motto illustrates man’s initial idea that he is separate from the Divine but the “Light of Truth” dawns on him and he progresses from having many gods to the One God.  He suggests that there is a spiritual significance to the number 13 and also for the number 4.  After all, the Declaration of Independence was officially adoped on July 4th, which was the same day that the order was given to come up with the Great Seal.  The original inauguration day was March 4 and the President serves 4 year terms, which is not duplicated in any other country.  He points out that both Novus Ordo Seclorum and Annuit Coeptis came from Virgil and that “nothing could better describe exactly what America is doing for the world, the fact that she has a Divine mission.”   He says that the olive branch being in the right claw and the arrows in the left is significant.  He has the similar notion that it denotes peace and good-will are to be the primary consideration with defense only as a last resort but he adds that, metaphysically, the olive branch stands for affirmation and the arrows for denial.  It is important, says Fox, to first affirm the presence  of God.  An interesting observation is that most national escutcheons, such as the American shield, are supported by something.  The fact that the American Shield rests on the eagle’s breast shows that it needs not external or material reinforcement.  Fox goes on the detail many other items which may be of interest to some.  But, he does say that the eye is “striking and remarkable.”  He says that the ancient all-seeing eye is the “Single Eye” of which Jesus spoke when He said, “When the eye is single, the whole body is full of light.”  Fox concludes that when an individual or a nation puts God first, and everything else second,” then the whole body, the whole life of that person or that nation, will be healthy and prosperous.”

I'm Not Sure What the Founders Had In Mind For Certain But This Certainly Would have been the Cutest Great Seal of Any Nation

So, what is the truth of the symbols of the Great Seal?  It’s hard to say.  The founders were well steeped in scholarship of antiquity.  The ideals put forth on the Declaration of Independence were not new, but instead it was the way that Jefferson expressed them that makes the document stand out.  The symbols collected for the Great Seal also were not new.  In spite of what modern scholars may suggest, the founders were indeed greatly influenced by some form or Christianity.  As we have seen, Jefferson was in favor of a Judao-Christian related symbol to be the emblem for the nation as was Franklin.  However, the fact that ultimately, the Contiental Congress chose not to include any overt references to the Christian Faith in the Great Seal is of some importance.  Perhaps they wished to cloak their faith such as Fox suggests.  Or, maybe they were being careful to not tie their objectives for the nation to any religion in order to symbolize a desire for a secular government.  Unfortunately, I do not believe that Thomson or anyone else left notes or minutes that describe their line of thinking.  In any event, the Great Seal of the United States does seem to stand out among nations…and maybe that was the intent all along.

SPC Severe Weather Outlook Sun June 20 2010

Weather Bottom Line:  The morning storms on Saturday held us only to 90 for the first part of the weekend.  Snow White and I went for a bike ride and it really wasn’t too bad.  Today will be much hotter and more uncomfortable though.  The models advertise a decent shortwave in Iowa during the day but tend to want to just kill it by the time it gets to Illinois as it makes what seems to me a bee-line for our area.  I’m not so sure why it would just go away as they suggest.  I would think that Sunday evening we should get the left overs at least if not something decent.  I mean, we’ll certainly be hot and there will be ample moisture.  Provided there is not some sort of big cap, I would think that there is no reason for that guy to hold together in some form.  Okay..maybe not severe, but still some storms.  The SPC seems to agree as they have the slight risk area kinda nosing down toward our area.  After this, the next several days seem similar.  Unseasonably hot and humid with no real line for storms to come our way but always the possibility of some guys wandering through.

Statue of Liberty Arrived In Pieces Before Taking the Pedestal
June 19, 2010

Lady Liberty Was Put Together After Arriving From France June 19, 1885

Lady Liberty's Face Was Covered in Copper in 1880

On This Date in History:    On America’s centennial in 1876, the French promised to give to the United States a great statue in recognition of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  Part of the deal was that the Americans would be responsible for the base and the French would take care of the statue.  Trouble was, both sides were short of money.  The French didn’t finish constuction of the statue until 1884 and the Americans didn’t get done with the base until April 1885.  With the base complete, the French shipped that statue across the Atlantic to New York.   But it was too big to send over in tact,  so it had to be divided into 350 sections that were placed in 214 crates.  Finally,  on this date in 1885.  Lady Liberty arrived in New York City, ableit in 350 pieces.  

Busy French Construction Site for Lady Liberty 1883-Note the Big Hand in the background

Now, the statue was designed to have copper sheeting of 3/32 of an inch thick or about the same as two pennies.  With a height of 151′ 11′ feet from the base to the top of the torch, that amount of copper weighed in at about 31 tons.  That created a structurol problem in that some sort of system would need to be built to support such weight.  So, the sculptor, Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, needed engineering help to figure out how to build such a colossus. 

The Statue had to be erected in Paris Before it was disassembled and shipped to New York

He got the help of Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Ducand Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel (Eiffel of Eiffel Tower Fame) to design and build the superstructure.  Eiffel was one of the top engineers of the day who had experience with steel superstructures and he came up with a steel skeleton that weighed about 125 tons.  It seems pretty remarkable that in the 1880’s it was technologically feasable to construct such a structure and its no wonder it took so long to build.  Well, with 156 tons of steel and copper, the base had to be an extremely solid foundation.  The site selected is now known as Liberty Island which is essentially a small chunk of granite in New York Harbor.  The island had been the site for Fort Wood which featured a star shaped outer wall.  The fort had been built in 1811 and served as a defense for the harbor during the War of 1812.  It was decided to place the statue within the confines of the fort.  The site seemed perfect though, even with such a solid footing, 27,000 tons of concrete was poured to create the base for the great statue.  From the foundation of the pedestal to the tip of the torch, the complete statue stands 305′ 6″.

LIberty's Arm and Torch Went on Display in 1876 Philadelphia

An American Minister ended his prayer at the dedication ceremony by saying in part: “God grant that it [the Statue] may stand until the end of time as an emblem of imperishable sympathy and affection between the Republics of France and the United States.”   So far, it has needed a little help to withstand the test of time.  With the statue in a harbor that is directly adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, the copper and steel is under constant assault from the salt water.  Also, New York can be subject to great temperature extremes in a given year.  Winter time temperatures might fall below zero and afternoons in the summer may reach 100 degrees.  The copper on the statue expands and contracts with the variation in temperature to such a degree that metal stress fatigue is a debilitating factor.  Then there is the wind.  The structure can handle the wind as the flexibility of the steel and copper allow it to sway.  In a 50 mph wind the statue sways 3 inches with the torch having as much as a 6 inch flux.  But, the metal fatigue and erosion factors are not something that can be overcome through engineering.  So, in 1937 and 1984 the Statue of Liberty (more facts) was closed for two years for restoration.  Lady Liberty has been able to stand tall in all sorts of weather and she has had a couple of makeovers to insure that she keeps her posture.  But, a man made event brought her much distress.

No Much Left of the Black Tom Island Munitions Terminal 1916

Not far from Liberty Island was another Island known as Black Tom Island.  The island was between New Jersey and Liberty Island and gained its moniker from the legend that an African American named Tom once resided there.  Now, at the outset of World War I, American munition manufacturers could sell their goods to anyone but the British established a pretty effective blockade of Germany in 1915 and so England was really the only beneficiary of America’s industrial capability.  The Lehigh Valley Railroad built a causeway from the mainland to the island as a terminal for its rail line to docks.  Toward the end of the 19th century, the railroad filled in the harbor to turn the island into a peninsula.  The peninsula became utilized as a munitions depot.  Since the munitions by 1916 were mainly heading to England, it made an inviting target for German sabatuers.  On July 30, 1916 fires were set on railroad cars that resulted in a series of tremendous explosions. 

It's Not Easy Inpsecting or Cleaning Miss Liberty's Torch

The initial blast is estimated to have been such to register a 5.0 to 5.5 on the richter scale.  It was felt as far away as Philadelphia.  Window 25 miles away were broken, including thousands in Manhattan.  The Brooklyn Bridge shook, Jersey City’s city hall had its outer walls cracked and people in Maryland were awakened by the sound of what they thought was an earthquake.  Lady Liberty stood tall but took some flak.  Over a mile away, the Jersey Journal building was penetrated by flying debris and the much closer Statue of Liberty took fragments in her skirt, her outstretched arm and the torch.  Bolts were popped out of the arm and the entire statue was closed for a few weeks.  When it reopened, the torch was closed to the public and has not been accesable to the public ever since.  However,  it was still able to continue the functionality of the statue which is that of a lighthouse.    As a direct result of the Black Tom Explosion, the United States passed the Espionage Act of 1917,    After the war, the Lehigh Valley Railroad was able to secure $50 million in compensation from the German government for damages resulting from the Black Tom Explosion.  The final payment was received in 1979.

SPC Severe Weather Outlook Sunday June 20 2010

Rain Map Shows That Saturday Morning Storms Generally Sounded Worse Than They Were

Weather Bottom Line:  Saturday morning was a surprise.  Don’t blame the TV folks.  The NAM had a short in the afternoon bringing rain but nothing like the racket we had.  There was a bit of an appendage that extended down from a shortwave moving through well to our North but all of the models cut that off just south of Indianapolis and really only advertised an outside shot at some showers.  They were wrong.  It was not the cold front though.  It should stay to our North and the general storm track still should be farther north than last week when we had a similar pattern.  But, Saturday morning’s activity does illustrate the difficulty in trying to time or place these little disturbances.  I think at least one of the stations was making it sound like the world was coming to an end….it was thunderstorm activity and, in general, if we get more of that stuff, it should be similar.  However, if you do find yourself in some stuff going on in the afternoon or evening, then the prospects of some rough stuff will be elevated as late day heating should take us to the low to maybe mid 90’s on Sunday and there will be plenty of humidity.

Hurricane of Providence Saved Washington DC and perhaps the Nation
June 18, 2010

Hurricane Providence Saved Washington as Commander In Chief Headed For the Hills

Hurricane Providence Saved Washington as Commander In Chief Headed For the Hills

Madison did not live up to Cartoon Maker's Image

Madison did not live up to Cartoon Maker's Image

The war of 1812 began on this date in history when Congress declared war on Great Britain and President James Madison signed the measure into law. Why we call it the War of 1812 is lost on me because it wasn’t over until Christmas of 1814 and the biggest victory for the United States occurred after the war was over. Seems Andy Jackson and his boys in New Orleans didn’t get the news and met the British in a famous battle around Lake Borgne. The battle took place in January of 1815….so officially, one cannot say there was a battle of New Orleans in the war of 1812 because it was 1815 and the war was over. But, since Cleveland had already taken the moniker “the mistake by the lake” I guess they had to call it something. Wouldn’t that be pretty bad luck if you fought and died for your country in a battle of a war that was already over?

Stuart's George Saved by Dolley

Stuart's George Saved by Dolley

Now, not long before the war was over, Washington DC was in big trouble. On August 24, 1814, soldiers were racing alongside the civilians out of town in a panic. The British had landed 8 days prior with some 4000 battle-hardened troops who had seen plenty of action in the wars with Napoleon. The Americans were not experienced, not well trained and not well led. The President of the United States, James Madison came galloping through on a horse shouting “Clear Out! Clear Out!” When the Commander-In-Chief is telling everyone to haul-ass, then everyone listens. One of America’s proudest moments. Before his wife, Dolley Madison, left she grabbed a bunch of paintings including Gilbert Stuart’s famous painting of George Washington. Good thing she did.

Maj. Gen. Robert Ross Led The Men Into Washington and Led Them in a Hasty Retreat In the Face America's Secret Weapon

The Redcoats came marching into Washington expecting a defense. Instead, they faced but a single volley of musket fire. But, it was enough to get their attention because it killed one guy, wounded three others and took out the horse from under the commanding general. The Brits moved on to the Capitol, where again they expected a last stand. So, they fired a few rockets through the windows and storm trooper busted down the doors only to find the chirping of crickets. So, they set the place on fire. Then they set the White House on fire as well as the Treasury building. Major General Robert Ross, the commander, stopped by the newspaper National Intelligencer to pick up the scribe’s final paper that assured the residents that the city was safe. Yup…the press was right on that story and have been as accurate ever since. Anyway, Ross couldn’t get the paper into his pocket as a souvenir because he had already filled his pockets with some of Madison’s personal papers. The general shouted, “Damn It! My pocket is full of old Madison’s love letters!” That’s what he gets for looting.

Bill Thornton Saved the Patent Office...Sorta

Bill Thornton Saved the Patent Office...Sorta

The next day, a single maniac named John Lewis came charging at the British Army. He was the grandnephew of George Washington and it seems he was upset over his impressment into the Royal Navy. So, he went on a revenge binge only to get himself shot to death. There was another, more successful defender though. Dr. William Thornton ran the Patent Office and just as the soldiers were set to torch the building, he told the perpetrators that they would be no better than the barbarians who had put ablaze the Ancient Library of Alexandria. I suppose in shame, the Redcoats backed off and the Patent Office was saved. Then,  Divine Providence showed up.

Not Long After the British Burned the White House, a Hurricane Doused the Flames and Forced the Redcoats Backed to their Ships

The British tried to set fire to 150 barrels of gunpowder at an abandoned American fort. The nitwits ended up setting off the whole kit and kaboodle at once and killed 30 of their own men while wounding another 44. Seems these guys were their own worst enemy. Then the wind picked up and the rain started to fall in buckets. Just in the nick of time before the entire city was burned to the ground, a hurricane showed up. The fires were put out and Ross ordered a full scale retreat back to their ships.   The British never returned and Washington DC was saved from total destruction by this so-called “Hurricane of Providence.”   Just because the British evacuated Washington DC doesn’t mean that they were done.  Somehow their ships were spared the wrath of the hurricane because less than a month later, they attempted to invade Baltimore but they were not able to fully penetrate the city’s defense or destroy Fort McHenry that guarded Baltimore Harbor.  It was during the bombardment of Fort McHenry that Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the words to what became known as the Star Spangled Banner.   And guess who was also involved in that attack?  Why none other than Maj. Gen. Robert Ross was a key figure in the adventure of Francis Scott Key during the Battle of Baltimore.  So, without the Hurricane of Providence, maybe there would not have been a Star Spangled Banner.  But, this national intervention of Divinity didn’t save everything.   While the city was saved, the Patent Office that Dr. Thornton so skillfully saved wasn’t as lucky. The roof blew off. Perhaps Dr. Thornton missed church that week. 

Weather Bottom Line:   It’s going to be hot and humid over the weekend; similar to what we saw last weekend.  There will the tail end of a front coming and sitting down on top of us by Sunday.  The difference between this weekend and last weekend is that there is not nearly the number of shortwaves wandering through the flow, so the prospects of rain and t’storms is diminished.  The NAM wants to have a wave pass on Saturday bringing us an elevated chance for rain and t’storms on Saturday afternoon while the GFS favors a shortwave passing to the north and an appendange far enough south to increase our prospects on Sunday afternoon.  Since the boundary will be closer to us or even over us on Sunday, I would favor it as the better prospect.  Just keep in mind that, should you find yourself under an isolated or scattered t’storm it will have the potential to drop a pretty fair amount of rain given the moisture content of the air.

How Would the NRA or Gun-Control Advocates View This Firearm?
June 17, 2010

Ladies, Would You Like a Gun to Go with your Plow?

Von Braun Conversed With His Nazi Benefactors

On This Date In History: American ingenuity knows no bounds…which means sometimes it can go out of bounds. In this case, we will go back to the time of the American Civil War.  When the nation is at war, it’s not unusual for new weapons related to violence to come about.  Quite often, the new inventions can be converted to peacetime uses after hostilities have ended.  The atomic bomb is a good example.  The research, money and effort came about quickly as a direct result of the government wishing to unlock the nuclear genie for the purpose of creating a new weapon.  After the war was over, new ways to utilize the technology for peaceful means came about.  Rocket engines are another example. 

Von Braun Seemed Happier Speaking with his American Captors

Wernher (Werner) Von Braun was really a rocket geek but had a difficult time getting funding for his research.  After World War II broke out, the Nazi’s thought that Von Braun’s rocket ideas might be an effective delivery system for weapons or maybe even power aircraft.  Von Braun really wasn’t interested in the war effort but went along with the party so that he could get the funding for his dreams.  The Nazis ended up with the V-2 Rocket, which today is more or less the Scud Missile, and also jet aircraft.  Wernher’s interest in rocketry was so much more than his interest in weapons that he was actually arrested in 1944 for putting his space efforts ahead of this weapon work.   What he needed was funding and freedom so toward the end of the war,   Von Braun arranged for he and about 500 of his top aides to be captured by the Americans.  Subsequently,   he went to work for Uncle Sam.  To a lesser extent, his knowledge helped the US develop jet aircraft but, more directly, Von Braun’s knowledge of rocketry was unmatched in the world and NASA developed greatly due to the leadership of Wernher Von Braun with his masterpiece being the giant Saturn V rocket that powered the astronauts to the moon.  Von Braun liked America so much he became an American Citizen.

Bet These Settlers Wished They Had Their Plows

 Now, let’s remember that our takes place in the 19th Century not the 20th Century.  And one  might conclude that if the year was 1862, then any innovation in weaponry might involve the Civil War.  But, not everyone was fighting the Civil War.  Westward expansion was continuing and there were still hundreds of thousands of Americans living on the edge of civilization.     At that time, Americans on the frontier needed protection from Indians who didn’t take too kindly to their settling the land,  bad guys and wild animals.  In some states and territories farmers may have had to deal with  Civil War guerrilla warriors on the prowl.  With that in mind, C.M. French and W.H. Fancher thought they’d come up with a gold mine of an idea.

The Gun and Plow Was a Great Idea As Long As Your Plow is Pointed in the Right Direction

People on the prairie needed defense and they needed to plow their own field. If you combined the two, then you could do both at once! So, on this date in 1862, the pair received a patent for their armed plow from the US Patent Office(US Pat. No. 35,600).  It would be interesting to determine if the NRA would consider this contraption a Second Amendment Issue or if Gun-Control advocates would object to the Combined Plow and Gun, which was a standard plow with what looks like a cannon mounted on the front.   I suspect that the firearm was a standard shotgun which clearly meant it was not a handgun.  It seems that it’s intent was certainly for defensive purposes because the description on the patent included the passage, “This combination enables those in agricultural pursuits to have at hand an efficient weapon of defense.” It said it was good for people on border localities who were subject to “savage feuds and guerrilla warfare.” It touted its unrivaled utility in fighting off surprise attacks on “those engaged in a peaceful avocation..” Needless to say, they didn’t get rich.   Had their idea caught on, we might have bicycles today with a forward mounted howitzer or maybe a cannon mounted on automobiles in an effort to deal with drivers on cell phones or texting.

Weather Bottom Line:  Same story, mainly.  We’ll stay warm but humidity will be bearable.  Snow White and I went for a walk this morning and it was lovely.  I think tonight will again have lows in the mid to upper 60’s but then the humidity returns by Friday night and lows are back in the muggy 70’s.  A cold front knocks on the door and stick around raising rain chances to some degree by Saturday afternoon and it carries through for several days.  It’s really too early to accurately ascertain the level of the rain chances but at least they will be isolated to scattered on a daily basis.  In short, by the weekend we will be returning to the hot and humid regime we had last weekend and early this week.

Tenskwatawa Was Help and Hinderance to His Brother Tecumseh
June 16, 2010

Tenskwatawa Not As Famous As His Brother Tecumseh

On This Date In History:  In the late 18th Century, there was a young, dissolute Shawnee warrior whom we might call a wayward youth today.  His name was Laulewasika and he was prone to drunken brawls.  In fact, he lost an eye in one fight.  One day, he quietly lit his pipe and he fell over.  The tribe thought that he was dead but during the funeral ceremony he suddenly awoke, proclaiming that he had “returned from the Master of Life” and said he was to be called the prophet Tenskwatawa. 

Tippecanoe Meant "Prophetown" to the Indians and "Road To White House" For Harrison

It’s unclear whether or not the brother of Laulewasika, the great Shawnee leader Tecumseh, called his brother Tenskwatawa  nor if he suspected that his brother was bamboozling everyone.  But he certainly should have done the latter because, it just so happened, that the message being preached by Tecumseh for years coincided with the new Indian Prophet’s verbiage.   The central theme to the rhetoric was for all of the Indian tribes to unite against the White settlers.  The two brothers went on tour to try and convince the other tribes of their plan with Tecumseh doing the heavy lifting with the political story while Tenskwatawa would woo them with his revival work that renounced the ways of the White man, in particular booze and religion.  Their plan worked to the extent that several tribes joined them and the headquarters for their new endeavor was a town they called Tippecanoe, which meant Prophetstown.  Bet I know  who came up with the town name.

Tenskwatawa Blotting Out The Sun Story Has Been Published in German!

Anyway, this caused the territorial Governor, William Henry Harrison, to challenge the powers of Tenskwatawa in hopes of proving him to be a Charlatan.  The challenge was to stop the sun, change the course of the moon and stop the rivers from flowing, among other things.  Harrison said if he could do those things, then he was indeed sent by God.  Well, I don’t know who made Harrison the arbitor regarding Divinity, but Tenskwatawa had the answer in his back pocket.  See, Tenskwatawa was a  pretty smart guy and he not only knew what his brother’s political ideas were he also knew how to read a solar table.  On This Date in 1806 Tenskwatawa made the sun go black then asked the Master of Life to bring it back and the sun shone brightly again!  The Indians were believers! 

I Don't Think That Tecumseh and Harrison Ever Squared Off But Don't Let the Truth Get in the Way of a Political Campaign

Harrison may not have known that Tenskwatawa had read the solar tables and knew of the exact time of a solar eclipse, but he wasn’t persuaded because a few years later, he gathered an army to march on Tippecanoe.  Tecumseh left to get others to join in the fight. He left his brother in charge with explicit instructions not to engage the Americans.  But Tenskwatawa just couldn’t pass up the chance to reign glory upon himself.   He had the warriors touch his bean belt to make them immune to bullets and dip their weapons in his magic bowl to ensure victory and he ordered an attack.  The Indians were routed by Harrison,the town burned to the ground and the path was set for Harrison to become President of the United States.  The survivors were incensed and came after Tenskwatawa who used his powers of BS to get out of it by blaming it on his squaw!  That’s right, when the chips were down, he blamed his loss on his wife whom he said stood too close to the bowl of magic potion. 

Fool Your Friends At Halloween with your Tenskwatawa Impression

This story ends with a bit of magic power, but it came from his brother Tecumseh.  Legend ist is that Tecumseh,while on his death bed in 1813, put a curse on the White Man.   On March 2, 1841  President William Henry Harrison talked for nearly 3 hours in sub-freezing temperatures at his inauguration in Washington, DC.  He died of pneumonia 30 days later.  It is called Tecumseh’s curse and every president elected in a year that ended in zero, starting with Harrison in 1840, died in office.  After Harrison, the list of apparent victims to Tecumseh’s curse included Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Harding, FDR and JFK.  President Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980 and was wounded severely by an assassins bullet but managed to recover and therefore broke Tecumseh’s curse.  Tecumseh was the famous middle name of General William T. Sherman.  And you know what, no one remembers the phony faker Tenskwatawa…and it’s just as well. It would teach a bad lesson to kids that being a big fibber is good. That cheaters somehow prosper.  Besides, it’s easier to pronounce Tecumseh than it is Tenskwatawa.

Weather Bottom Line:   We had a little boundary sneak through the region overnight.  While it will still be warm, the humidity level will be noticeably more bearable.  It will remain warm and dry through Thursday.  By Friday afternoon, we see the higher heat and humidity return with a warm front ahead of a cold front that will approach Friday night or Saturday.  Rain chances will again become elevated and the heat and humidity will stick around for a few days because the front will get hung up to our north and west…in other words, from the weekend into early next week could end up being similar to the 5 or 6 day period we just completed.

America and Britain In Pig War Standoff
June 15, 2010

Pig War, not War Pigs

On This Date in History:  Let’s see. We have had many wars in American History: American Revolution, War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Pig War.  The Pig War?  

Battle of New Orleans: Pointless Battle Almost NOT the final Conflict Between Britain and America

After the conclusion of the War of 1812 in late 1814 and after the Battle of New Orleans, which came about in January 1815 after the treaty concluding the war had been reached, America and Britain still had differences.  However, after a war of independence and then a second war between the former brothers, one would think that further armed conflict was not a possibility.  In 1818, both English and American citizens had settled in what was known as the Oregon Country, which includes present day Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia and parts of Wyoming and Montana.  So, the two sides simply agreed to be cohabitants of the region.  I suppose they figured that sooner or later that they’d straighten it all out.   However, by 1845, nothing had changed and the folks in the region seemed to be growing weary of each other.

Map of Pig War Dispute

Americans thought that the British presence was nothing but an obstacle to their divine “Manifest Destiny” and the Brits thought that the wild influx of American settlers were trespassers on land guaranteed to the crown through previous treaties and trading practices established by the Hudson Bay Company.  Cooler heads prevailed and in 1846, the Oregon Treaty was signed and it stipulated that the Americans had control of all territory south of the 49th parallel with the boundary extending “to the middle of the channel which separates the continent from Vancouver’s Island; and thence southerly through the middle of the said channel, and of Fuca’s straits to the Pacific Ocean.”  The wording must have been made up by eastern lawyers who had never been there because the truth was there were two channels, not one.  Dividing the two straights was San Juan Island and each side claimed the island for themselves.

Griffin, no ordinary farmer, refused to pay tax to Uncle Sam

So, citizens of both nations quickly staked claims to the island.    The old bugaboo of taxation led to the first conflict when America tried to collect taxes on British produce.  Englishman farmer Charles John Griffin refused to pay, claiming he was not subject to American taxation.   Griffin was no ordinary farmer though.  He had been appointed as the chief agent of the Hudson Bay Company.  Nevertheless, it just so happens that of all the people on the island, it was Griffin’s pig on this date in 1859 that got loose and began to stick his snout in the potato patch of Lyman A. Cutlar(Cutler).   Being a true American, Cutlar did what any well bred Yankee would do: He shot the pig dead.  Griffing marched with quite indignation straight to the office of the British magistrate and demanded compensation of $100 from Cutlar.   To me, $100 is a lot of money today and back then it was a small fortune.  Naturally, Cutlar refused to pay, claiming that he was not subject to British law.

George E. Pickett as a 1st Lieutenant

The Americans on the island called on the government for protection and so, Uncle Sam sent young Captain George E. Pickett with troops.  That would be the same Pickett who gained fame for his exploits as a Confederate General at the Battle of Gettysburg.   In response to the presence of Pickett and his 66 troops, Britain sent a bunch of warships with an eye toward routing the American command.  Pickett was reinforced by 171 more troops.  When it was apparent that the Americans were still outgunned by the British ships, more troops were called for.  Could the United States and Britain be headed back to war again over a pig rooting around in a potato patch?  For a time it looked that way until “Old Fuss and Feathers,” commanding American General Winfield Scott, arrived from Washington at the direction of President James Buchanan with a proposal.  Each side would station 100 men on the island in a contrived stand-off, or balance of power, until an agreement could be reached. 

There's Even a Book About the Pig War

Well, the slavery issue was boiling over in America around that time and Uncle Sam had bigger fish to fry.  So, the “Pig  War”, as it became known,  got put on the back burner for 12 years.  In 1871, there was an Anglo-American treaty signed called the Treaty of Washington.  That document called for the “Pig War”  matter was taken up by German Emperor Wilhelm I who promptly referred the question to a 3 member arbitration board.  The board, through the kaiser, ruled in favor of the Americans.  In November 1872, all British troops evacuated the island and two years later, all American troops left.  Thus, after the governments of both countries had kicked the sovereignty issue down the road to let someone else deal with, peace finally came to the Pacific Northwest.  Politicians had left the question of slavery to others from the Declaration of Independence  through the Missouri Compromise and the result was a war in which over 600,000 Americans died.  At least the punting of the San Juan Island issue only resulted in the death of a single pig, in what has been fondly remembered as “The Pig War.”

SPC Severe Outlook June 15 2010

SPC Severe Wind Probability June 15 2010

Weather Bottom Line:  On Monday night, Snow White and I went for a walk.  She is always quite concerned about thunderstorms and she got nervous when we saw distant lightning to our North and to our South.  I told her that I suspected that, not only would we have time for the walk, but also that we may get no rain at all as I thought that we would be in between the storms.  The lightning was cool.  This is the second time that I saw lightning shoot up from the cloud to no apparent destination.  The first time I saw this was at the Kitty Cat Castle on the Georgia Coast.  I’m guessing that what I am seeing are called sprites.  They were first discovered by astronauts on the Shuttle.  A very interesting phenomena that I don’t think anyone has quite figured out yet.  Anyway, I was right.  We got the walk in and we never had any rain.   When I came home, I looked at the radar and it appeared to me that the storms I saw to the north were almost all the way to Cincinnati and the ones to the South were in Meade county.  Quite a distance, though farther than I would have expected.  Needless to say, there was no thunder. 

SPC Tornado Probability June 15 2010

We remain in the same pattern but it seems to me that the storm track has shifted slightly north.  So, there is a shortwave out in Iowa on Tuesday afternoon and the vector appears to be taking it Northeast toward the Great Lakes.  It may swing around to a more easterly component later on but I would think that the main part of the short will be well north of our area.  Having said that, there is an appendage from that vortmax extending into Central Missouri and a new outcrop of storms ahead of the main short in Central Illinois. That too is moving Northeast.  I think our issue will be with the appendage. I see some indication of a low level convergence zone setting up with other parameters suggesting that the appendage may blossom into storms during the heat of the day as it moves into Southern Illinois.  I would think that there will be a reasonable shot of storms late in the day or the evening, very similar to what we had Monday.  Whether or not a line forms or if that line holds together by the time it gets here remains to be seen.  Also, I betcha we get some scattered guys ahead of the short wave in the heat of the day forming ahead of the shortwave, similar to what it already going on in Illinois.  That would be my greatest concern for severe weather…perhaps and errant supercell would not be totally out of the question.  As I am writing this, I see the boys at the SPC have seen the same thing because they just now changed the outlook to include a moderate risk for the region just north of Louisville, between say Charlestown and Indianapolis.  So, keep that in mind as you go into the late afternoon and evening.  If you find yourself in a thunderstorm, be sure to tune into your radio or tv to see what the story is. After today, the ridging of the storm track should continue and I think the storm chances will be decreasing for the rest of the week until Saturday when a weak cold front comes knocking at the door.

Donald Trump is Older Than Congressional Recognition of Flag Day
June 14, 2010

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The Flag Is Commemorated in all Worlds

The Flag Is Commemorated in all Worlds

On This Date in History: Flag Day commemorates June 14, 1777 when Congress adopted officially the stars and stripes. The colonial army had the Grand Union flag, supposedly created by Betsy Ross. Now, historians have not been able to prove the legend…BUT…they have not been able to disprove it either…so who knows. I say stick with the legend until someone can prove otherwise.

Hundreds of Thousands Have Defending the Stars

Hundreds of Thousands Have Defended the Stars and Stripes

Anyway, the first day which was called Flag Day was a celebration  On This Date In 1877 to mark the 100th anniversary of Old Glory.   President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed June 14 as Flag day on May 30, 1916. So on this date in 1916, he made a big speech…the speech was more about rallying the nation behind the war effort as just two months before the US had declared War on Germany and entered WWI.   Actually, Wilson made several speeches related to the flag.  The first was on June 14, 1915.  Then he made one on May 30, 1916 explaining why he wanted to designate the date as Flag Day and then again on June 14, 1916 the day that he had designated.  But, the date still was not an officially sanctioned national annual day of recognition for the flag..  It wasn’t until August 3, 1949 that Congress  officially designated, this date,  June 14 as Flag Day as a day of national observance and President Truman signed the Act of Congress into law. So, if Flag Day was so important and had been around so long, why did Congress wait until 172 years after the fact to make it official? Well, the Democrats had re-taken control of Congress in 1948 after a brief period of Republican control. Around this time, there was Soviet communist expansion in Europe and Mao Tse Tung in mid 1949 had run Chang Kai Shek off to Taiwan and mainland China was communist. Though Congress at the time didn’t know it, the Soviets were about to explode their first nuclear weapon on Aug. 29, 1949, breaking America’s brief monopoly on nukes.

Joe McCarthy Influenced Flag Day?

There were cases of espionage involving Soviet communist spies in the American Government like the Alger Hiss case. Republicans were charging the Democrats with being soft on communism and creating an atmosphere that fostered the growth of communism in this nation. So…Congress officially adopted Flag Day as June 14. Its probably a pretty fair spot to argue that the Red Scare of the 1950’s really began on June 14, 1950.  Along the same lines, the words “Under God” were not inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance until 1954.  I guess with the fear of communism fading, so has the ideals that created the first Flag Day in 1877…but go ahead and think about the flag anyway and what it means to you. A lot of people have fought and died for the ideals that the flag represents and it at least deserves a moment’s reflection.

Fred Trump Celebrated Flag Day in 1946 Welcoming Donald into the World

Fred Trump Celebrated Flag Day in 1946 Welcoming Donald into the World

Now, Fred Trump was a successful real-estate developer in New York. On this date in 1946, three years before Congress officially recognized Flag Day. Fredintroduced the world to his son Donald, who seems to be intent on making a bigger splash than anyone in human history. After Donald Trump finished his MBA at the Wharton School of Business, he went to work for dad. He quickly developed an ability to work the business of building and development. In the 1970’s, New York was in terrible financial condition and Trump took advantage by buying up properties at good prices and gaining tax concessions for his projects.

You're Fired!

You're Fired!

In the 1980’s, he looked toward hotels, high rise condos and casinos. He claims his net worth skyrocketed into the billions. Others think that was a large over-estimate. In any event, when the 90’s came about, his fortunes turned and his empire crumbled and he even had to declare bankruptcy on some of his developments. But, by the late 90’s, he was back on his feet and amassing wealth once again. On a couple of occasions he was urged to run for President but instead he took his celebrity and turned to the tube. He had several years of The Apprentice which was a hit for a while and his trademark “you’re fired” became part of the pop culture lexicon. In 2005, Forbes magazine estimated his net worth at $2.7 billion. Trump says it was way more. Critics claim he wasn’t even a billionaire.

Martha A Sandweiss's Book Agrees to Print the Legend!

But you know what…if the legend is better than the truth, print the legend. Trump has marketed himself and his name to the point that he is one of the best known people in America if not the world. And, as Larry King indicates in the photo above, his hair may have outstripped the rest of his worldly accomplishments as the most famous part of him. But, you have to admit, he doesn’t look like a 64 year-old man. Wonder what I would look like if I had some money.

SPC Severe Outlook Mon June 14 2010

Weather Bottom Line:  Late Sunday night we had one of those little shortwaves rolling through the flow and this time the arc of the flow lines brought it right over Louisville.  They lost some of their ooomph by the time they got to Louisville as the heating of the day abated.  The strongest winds were up in Orange and Jackson counties in Indiana and by the time they got to Louisville there was a lot of lightning, brief heavy rain and some gusty but not too terribly strong winds.   I kept hearing someone on television say that they were “tremendous” thunderstorms and that’s okay I guess except when we really do have big boppers, people may not listen since they’ve heard so much hyperbole regarding some decent thunderstorms. I mean, even with a second wave coming through in the early morning hours, rain totals were not all that excessive.  The rain gauge in Mt. St. Francis in Floyd County registered just 1.09 inches of rain.  At my house, we had about an inch but the rain gauge network only ranged from about a quarter inch in PRP to .79″ near downtown Louisville. The airport only had .12″ for the two rain events.  Hardly “tremendous.”   I think I’m becoming a grumpy old man. 

SPC Severe Outlook Tue June 15, 2010

Anyway, this is the type of thing that we can expect over the next few days and the timing of the short waves and the exact track of the flow will be the key as to whether or not we get storms and an appreciable amount of rain.  There still will be abundant moisture and ample latent heat so, as I’ve said before, if we get a match to toss on this big pile of potential energy that we store up, then we may have something to talk about.  That is why I would suggest that if by chance you see some big fat billowing cumulous clouds in the late afternoon or evening, it may be wise to check your radio or tv to see what’s up.