It’s National Nothing Day; Celebrate in Earnest
January 16, 2011

You can even get a wristband (click image) for National Nothing Day!

Doing Nothing Meant Alot to Bon Scott and Angus Young

This Date in History: Everyone says that they are so busy these days, or at least we act like we are. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone tells me that they are too busy to do something. Do you think that you could just do nothing? There is an AC/DC song called Down Payment Blues with a line that says “I know I ain’t doin’ much, doin’ nothin’ means a lot to me.” My friends and I in high school always liked that song. I guess Bon Scott liked doin’ nothing. After a bunch of poor grades on a test, a bunch of my students’ excuse was that they didn’t have time to do the reading assignment. A few days later, I tricked them when I asked if they had seen the UL-UK football game, the VH-1 Awards or Dancing with the Stars. When they all said that they had, I told them to never tell me that they don’t have time to do the reading assignment. We use the excuse that “I don’t have time” to do a given thing when, in fact, we choose not to use our time in that way. We say that we don’t have time to visit a co-worker in the hospital but have plenty of time to watch that favorite TV show. So, the question on the table might be, could you do nothing or are you too busy?

I think that everyone’s life is an interesting story. But, I suppose society doesn’t much think so. The lives of everyday people tend to go by the wayside while instead we turn our attention to people who yearn for attention even though they didn’t do anything to really earn that distinction. Think of all of the celebrities in the spotlight today who really have done nothing except be in the spotlight. So, maybe we do like to celebrate nothing. If that is the case, then today is your lucky day. It would seem that the life of a newspaperman would be interesting but, in the case of Harold Pullman Coffin, apparently that was not the case.

One cannot find anything about the life of this journalist; not even the name of any newspaper for which he worked. Children Come First have a writing contest for the day but the link to the Smithsonian it features leads nowhere. But, you will find that he was described as a “newspaperman” and he managed to leave his name for posterity and history simply by decided to celebrate nothing. On this date in 1973, newspaperman Harold Pullman Coffin designated January 16 as National Nothing Day. I’m not sure of his motivation but he wanted to “to provide Americans with one national day when they can just sit without celebrating, observing, or honoring anything.” Beyond that quote and the assertion that he was a newspaperman, there is nothing more. It’s too bad that Congress doesn’t recognize Coffin’s day for about half the year, then the nation might be able to get something done.

Abolitionist Coffin Related To Harold Pullman Coffin?

Anyway, I”m forced to speculate regarding Mr. Coffin but I have found that the University of Nevada at Reno is the holder of the E.B. Coffin collection. It is a set of personal papers and photographs derived from the Edward Baker Coffin family. Edward Baker Coffin was born in 1861 in California. His family was from Nantuckett, MA and his uncle or great uncle was probably aboltionist Levi Coffin as his brother was named George Levi Coffin. Edward B. Coffin married Ida Pullman of Elko, Nevada. They had 4 children, including Harold Pullman Coffin. Now, that is a rather unusual name so it’s probably our National Nothing Day founder or at least a relation. Now, the listing of Harold Pullman was fourth in the list of the children so we may presume that he was the youngest. But even so, if we assume that Edward Coffin was 30 when Harold was born, then Harold Pullman Coffin would have been 82 when he designated National Nothing Day as an Un-Event.

Andy Rooney Doesn’t think much of Birthdays

Andy Rooney just celebrated his 92nd birthday so, it’s possible that Coffin could have been still working as a newspaperman. (Rooney Bio) But, it seems more likely that the founder of National Nothing Day was the grandson of Edward Baker Coffin. But, we know nothing of the birthday of Harry Pullman Coffin and Andy Rooney says that Unhappy Birthday is a better greeting or none at all for someone looking at another year on the planet. Besides that, it’s probably better that we know nothing about the founder of National Nothing Day because, if we knew more, than that would be something.

Weather Bottom Line:  Today may be nothing…and the Seattle Seahawks seemed to have taken the day seriously…but tomorrow is something of note as we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  There are lots of events around town but, unfortunately, the weather will not be very cooperative.  The good news is that we will be dancing with the 40 degree mark.  The bad news is that its going to be wet.  I would much rather have a bunch of snow than cold, dreary rain.  Well, we can’t have everything and I suspect that after the cold and rather snowy winter we’ve had so far, many of you would take the rain.  But, alas, the pattern does not change too much and it would appear that we’re in store for another pretty cold stretch after Tuesday as, after again being around 40 or so we fall below freezing Tuesday night and do not rise above 32 through next weekend.  In fact, several days will feature highs in the 20’s.  Snow returns to the forecast for Thursday behind which arctic air spills down.  At this point, the morning golf game next weekend may be tough as we’ll probably be in the single digits each morning.  Hope you’ve been nice to LG&E.

National Nothing Day Might Be Good For Congress
January 16, 2010

You can even get a wristband (click image) for National Nothing Day!

Doing Nothing Meant Alot to Bon Scott and Angus Young

This Date in History:  Everyone says that they are so busy these days, or at least we act like we are.  I wish I had a dollar for every time someone tells me that they are too busy to do something.   Do you think that you could just do nothing?  There is an AC/DC song called Down Payment Blues with a line that says “I know I ain’t doin’ much, doin’ nothin’ means a lot to me.”  My friends and I in high school always liked that song.  I guess Bon Scott liked doin’ nothing.   After a bunch of poor grades on a test, a bunch of my students’ excuse was that they didn’t have time to do the reading assignment.  A few days later, I tricked them when I asked if they had seen the UL-UK football game, the VH-1 Awards or Dancing with the Stars.  When they all said that they had, I told them to never tell me that they don’t have time to do the reading assignment.    We use the excuse that “I don’t have time” to do a given thing when, in fact, we choose not to use our time in that way.  We say that we don’t have time to visit a co-worker in the hospital but have plenty of time to watch that favorite TV show.   So, the question on the table might be, could you do nothing or are you too busy?

I think that everyone’s life is an interesting story.  But, I suppose society doesn’t much think so.  The lives of everyday people tend to go by the wayside while instead we turn our attention to people who yearn for attention even though they didn’t do anything to really earn that distinction.  Think of all of the celebrities in the spotlight today who really have done nothing except be in the spotlight.  So, maybe we do like to celebrate nothing.  If that is the case, then today is your lucky day.  It would seem that the life of a newspaperman would be interesting but, in the case of Harold Pullman Coffin, apparently that was not the case. 

One cannot find anything about the life of this journalist; not even the name of any newspaper for which he worked.  Children Come First have a writing contest for the day but the link to the Smithsonian it features leads nowhere.  But, you will find that he was described as a “newspaperman” and he managed to leave his name for posterity and history simply by decided to celebrate nothing.  On this date in 1973, newspaperman Harold Pullman Coffin designated January 16 as National Nothing Day.   I’m not sure of his motivation but he wanted to “to provide Americans with one national day when they can just sit without celebrating, observing, or honoring anything.”  Beyond that quote and the assertion that he was a newspaperman, there is nothing more.  It’s too bad that Congress doesn’t recognize Coffin’s day for about half the year, then the nation might be able to get something done.

Abolitionist Coffin Related To Harold Pullman Coffin?

Anyway, I”m forced to speculate regarding Mr. Coffin but I have found that the University of Nevada at Reno is the holder of the E.B. Coffin collection.  It is a set of personal papers and photographs derived from the Edward Baker Coffin family.  Edward Baker Coffin was born in 1861 in California.  His family was from Nantuckett, MA and his uncle or great uncle was probably aboltionist Levi Coffin as his brother was named George Levi Coffin.  Edward B. Coffin married Ida Pullman of Elko, Nevada.  They had 4 children, including Harold Pullman Coffin.  Now, that is a rather unusual name so it’s probably our National Nothing Day founder or at least a relation.   Now, the listing of Harold Pullman was fourth in the list of the children so we may presume that he was the youngest.  But even so, if we assume that Edward Coffin was 30 when Harold was born, then Harold Pullman Coffin would have been 82 when he designated National Nothing Day as an Un-Event.

Andy Rooney Doesn’t think much of Birthdays

 Andy Rooney just celebrated his 91st birthday so, it’s possible that Coffin could have been still working as a newspaperman.  (Rooney Bio) But, it seems more likely that the founder of National Nothing Day was the grandson of Edward Baker Coffin.  But, we know nothing of the birthday of Harry Pullman Coffin and Andy Rooney says that Unhappy Birthday is a better greeting or none at all for someone looking at another year on the planet.  Besides that, it’s probably better that we know nothing about the founder of National Nothing Day because, if we knew more, than that would be something. 

Weather Bottom Line:  It’s National Nothing Day so Saturday’s forecast is nothing.  But, Sunday may be rain, so enjoy nothing while you can.

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

Not the 1st Thanksgiving?

Not the 1st Thanksgiving?

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

Diamond Scam Pulled Off My Enterprising Kentuckians

Diamond Scam Pulled Off My Enterprising Kentuckians

Charles Tiffany Duped By Kentuckians

Charles Tiffany Duped By Kentuckians

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

William C Ralston Duped By Kentuckians

William C Ralston Duped By Kentuckians

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

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

Asbury Harpending Duped By Kentuckians Then Wrote About It

Asbury Harpending Duped By Kentuckians Then Wrote About It

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

Clarence King Exposed Kentuckians But Died A Pauper

Clarence King Exposed Kentuckians But Died A Pauper

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

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

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

Veterans Day History is Interesting But it Doesn’t Take a Scholar to Say Thank You.
November 11, 2009

vets

Thank You

On This Day, Thank a Veteran:

Original "Armistice Day" Honoree

Original "Armistice Day" Honoree

Prior to noon on November 7, 1918 United Press president Roy Howard sent a cable to the New York headquarters: “Urgent. Armistice allies Germans signed 11 smorning hostilities ceased 2 safternoon.”  Midday papers blared the headlines and celebration erupted.  Trouble was, it wasn’t true.  Howard had gotten the news from US Admiral Henry B. Wilson who commanded the US Navy in French waters.  Seems that the admiral was duped by German spies.  Wilson manned up and admitted it was his fault, thus saving the reputation of the United Press.  Turns out, the news wasn’t wrong, just premature.  Just 4 days later, on November 11, 1918; on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the “Great War” was over.  A year later,  November 11, 1919 was proclaimed “Armistice Day” to commemorate the end of the “Great War” now better known as World War I. 

Sir, we salute you.

Sir, we salute you.

It was thought at the time that there would never be a greater conflict.  By the 1940’s, it was evident that was not the case. In 1920 at the urging of church groups, President Wilson named the nearest Sunday to November 11 “Armistice Sunday.” In 1921, Congress approved the building of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery and designated November 11, 1921 as a Federal holiday for all who participated in the “Great War.” In 1926, Congress called on the President to give an address each Armistice Day and most states in the decade mark the occasion with a holiday.

Now, in 1938 Congress adopted November 11 as a Federal holiday. But, Congress only holds the power to grant Federal employees holidays. It’s up to the states to designate holidays but since most states already have the holiday, the Federal government really followed the states lead in contrast to most other national holidays in which the states follow the Fed’s lead. World War II and Korea come and go so President Eisenhower officially changed the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

It Doesn't take Much Effort

It Doesn't Take Much Effort

For some reason, Congress in 1968 messed with the tradition.  Perhaps it was an effort to save money or just a good gesture to give everyone a 3 day weekend, or maybe they were caught up in the turbulent 60’s.  In any event, Congress decided to make the 4th Monday in October Veterans Day, taking effect in 1971.    All the states moved their holidays except for Mississippi and South Dakota. By 1975, the majority of the states had moved it back to the original November 11. The Federal Government capitulated and changed the Federal holiday back, beginning with November 11, 1978.  Not only was the day considered sacred at its inception, it somehow held that same position later in the 20th century because when the government tried to change it, the citizens through the state legislatures, basically told the Feds to shove off and returned it to its proper place. This is not Memorial Day, but if you choose to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this nation, then please do so. But, Veterans Day to me is for the living…so if you don’t go to a ceremony or church service today, take the time to thank a veteran. I do it everytime I meet someone who served. Like Mother’s Day, I don’t just tell my mother that I love her on Mother’s Day. In any event, it’s not hard, just reach out your hand and say “thank you.” They earned it.  Too often we run around saying we “support the troops” or are grateful for living in this nation but never thank those who are responsible.

Weather Bottom Line:  Eric noted that I haven’t given too much attention to local weather lately, but he surmised it was because it was boring.  He’s right…pretty uneventful.  And that trend will continue.  Some folks may see the upper 30’s on Wednesday night and our highs Wed and Thu will be in the upper 50’s and low 60’s.  Then mid to upper 60’s on Friday as high pressure drifts to the east.  Then we get around 70 on Saturday before clouds start to move in on Sunday ahead of another not-too-strong system that may bring a few showers late Sunday into Monday.