The Dream of Flight


Something for the weekend. Sogno di Volare, The Dream of Flight, the theme song of the game Civilization VI that was released yesterday.  (Be still my geek heart!)  I know what will be occupying my weekend!



Published in: on October 22, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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October 21, 1960: Fourth and Final Nixon-Kennedy Debate



The fourth and final Nixon-Kennedy debate.  Most pundits scored this debate a draw.  Although the debates are famous, I do wonder if they exerted much impact on the election outcome.  They certainly were more dignified and issue oriented than our wretched presidential debates this year.  Of course that would have changed if the colorful, to say the least, private life of John Kennedy had been front and center.  Of course, it was a different world back then.  Many reporters knew that Kennedy was a womanizer.  However, this was at a time when  the personal sins of most politicians were not revealed by the press.  Whether this was a good or bad thing I will leave to another post.  However, our world is so different now, that such reportorial discretion is almost unimaginable, at least if the politician has an R after his name.  Even with Democrats, the media is so diverse, such news would have a hard time being kept under wraps for any length of time.  Go here to view the entire debate.

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Theodore Roosevelt



Americanism means the virtues of courage, honor, justice, truth, sincerity, and hardihood—the virtues that made America. The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living and the get-rich-quick theory of life.

Theodore Roosevelt, January 10, 1917

Published in: on October 20, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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CS Lewis Explains Why He Was Not a Pacifist


(I posted this at The American Catholic and I thought the history mavens of Almost Chosen People might enjoy it.)



It is, of course, true that wars never do half the good which the leaders of the belligerents say they are going to do. Nothing ever does half the good — perhaps nothing ever does half the evil — which is expected of it. And that may be a sound argument for not pitching one’s propaganda too high. But it is no argument against war. If a Germanised Europe in 1914 would have been an evil, then the war which would have prevented that evil would have been, so far, justified. To call it useless because it did not also cure slums and unemployment is like coming up to a man who has just succeeded in defending himself from a man-eating tiger and saying, “It’s no good, old chap. This hasn’t really cured your rheumatism!”

CS Lewis

Published in: on October 19, 2016 at 4:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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October 18, 1867: US Takes Possession of Alaska



The US purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 was not popular.  Widely derided as Seward’s Folly, critics thought the US was paying seven million dollars for a worthless, sparsely populated Arctic wasteland.  The Senate approved the treaty negotiated by Secretary of State William Seward by one vote.  Criticism of the purchase would continue until the Klondike gold strike of 1896.

The capital of Russian Alaska was Sitka, also known as New Archangel.  On October 18, 1867 US troops landed at Sitka and the stars and stripes was raised.  General Lovell Rousseau reported on the proceedings to Secretary Seward:


The troops being promptly formed, were, at precisely half past three o’clock, brought to a ‘present arms’, the signal given to the Ossipee … which was to fire the salute, and the ceremony was begun by lowering the Russian flag … The United States flag … was properly attached and began its ascent, hoisted by my private secretary [and son], George Lovell Rousseau, and again salutes were fired as before, the Russian water battery leading off. The flag was so hoisted that in the instant it reached its place the report of the big gun of the Ossipee reverberated from the mountains around … Captain Pestchouroff stepped up to me and said, ‘General Rousseau, by authority from his Majesty the Emperor of Russia, I transfer to the United States the Territory of Alaska’ and in a few words I acknowledged the acceptance of the transfer, and the ceremony was at an end. (more…)

Published in: on October 18, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Angel of Hadley




The town of Hadley was alarmed by the Indians in 1675, in the time of public worship, and the people were in the utmost confusion. Suddenly a grave, elderly person appeared in the midst of them. In his mien and dress he differed from the rest of the people. He not only encouraged them to defend themselves, but put himself at their head, rallied, instructed and led them on to encounter the enemy, who by this means were repulsed. As suddenly the deliverer of Hadley disappeared. The people were left in consternation, utterly unable to account for this strange phenomenon. It is not probable that they were ever able to explain it. If Goffe had been then discovered, it must have come to the knowledge of those persons, who declare by their letters that they never knew what became of him.

Thomas Hutchinson, History of Massachusetts Bay (1764)

Three of the regicides who sentenced Charles I to death took refuge in New England after the Restoration:  John Dixwell, Major General Edward Whalley and his son-in-law Major General William Goffe.  Goffe and Whalley were both experienced soldiers, having fought throughout the English Civil Wars.  They had also both served as Major Generals in Cromwell’s scheme to have Major Generals rule ten administrative districts in England, the only period of military dictatorship in English history.  All three of the regicides found refuge in New Haven, Connecticut.   Living under the assumed name of James David, Dixwell lived in peace in New Haven until his death in 1689.   Not so Whalley and Goffe who were too well known.  On the run, they ultimately found refuge in the frontier settlement of Hadley, Massachusetts.  Whalley probably died in 1675 while Goffe probably passed away in 1679.  (more…)

Norman Conquest Thanks to My Bride’s Family

(I posted this at The American Catholic and I thought the history mavens of Almost Chosen People might enjoy it.)


Nine hundred and fifty years since the Norman Conquest and it may be all the fault of my bride’s family!  She is a descendant of Norwegian King Harold Hardrada (Hard Ruler), a true swashbuckler whose exploits ranged from Constantinople to the Arctic Circle.  He lived as a Viking although after he became King he was sympathetic to Christianity.  The golden age of Hollywood missed a great movie on his life with Errol Flynn in the starring role.  The Norman victory at Hastings may not have been possible but for his invasion of England in alliance with Tostig, the brother of English King Harold Godwinson.  Harold Hardrada was defeated by Harold Godwinson at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, losing the battle and his life.  The battle was fought on September 25, 1066.   Harold Godwinson left much of his forces in the north to guard against any further Norwegian raids.   By the time of the Battle of Hastings on October 14, 1066, Harold’s force was weary from fighting and forced marching and much smaller than it would have been but for Harold Hardrada’s intervention.  If Harold had won, who knows, perhaps my bride would now be part of British royalty!  However, in that reality she almost certainly would never have married me.  I selfishly prefer this reality!

Published in: on October 16, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Canon in D


Something for the weekend.  A nice mild October Saturday.  Time to celebrate with Pachelbel’s Canon in D.  Perhaps the greatest of the middle Baroque composers, Johann Pachelbel enjoyed enormous popularity in his lifetime.  After his death in 1706, with changing fashions in music, he was largely forgotten.  This changed dramatically in 1968 with a recording of Canon D by Jean-Francois Paillard.  Great Art never really ceases to be great Art, it merely slumbers until new audiences appear to appreciate it.

Published in: on October 15, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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October 14, 1908: Cubs Win the World Series

Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States when the Cubs last won the World Series on October 14, 1908, defeating the Detroit Tigers 2-0.  Just barely within human memory, about one hundred Americans are still alive now who were alive then.  It was the second World Series win for the Cubs, their first being the year before in 1907.  Why the Cubs have had this championship drought, other than bad ball playing, has been a matter of much speculation.  The most popular explanation is the Curse of the Billy Goat.

In 1945 Billy Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, was attending game four of the World Series being held in Wrigley Field, once again the Chicago Cubs facing the Detroit Tigers.  This being Chicago where odd characters are as common as blustery politicians, he brought his pet goat Murphy with him to the game.  Other patrons complained that the goat stank.  Sianis was thrown out.  As he was leaving Sianis was heard to say,“Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more!”.

When the Cubs lost the series, Sianis sent a telegram to P.K. Wrigley, the owner of the Cubs:  “Who stinks now?(more…)

Published in: on October 14, 2016 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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October 13, 1960: Third Nixon-Kennedy Debate

In the third Nixon-Kennedy debate some then cutting edge technology was used to make it appear as if Nixon and Kennedy was in the same room.  Nixon was in Los Angeles and Kennedy was in New York.  The use of a split screen gave the illusion that they were in the same room.  Most pundits thought at the time that Nixon won this debate.  Go here to view the debate.