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Current Topic: History

Theban Mapping Project
Topic: History 12:04 pm EST, Jan 24, 2005

] Atlas of the Valley of the Kings
] Discover each tomb in the Valley in this interactive
] Atlas. Investigate a database of information about each
] tomb, view a compilation of more than 2000 images,
] interact with models of each tomb, and measure, pan, and
] zoom over 250 detailed maps, elevations, and sections.
] Experience sixty-five narrated tours by Dr. Weeks and
] explore a 3D recreation of tomb KV 14.
  . . .
] Atlas of the Theban Necropolis
] Explore the entire archaeological zone through this giant
] aerial photograph. Zoom in to see individual
] architectural details of temples and palaces as well as
] the topography of the area. Mouse over sites to get
] additional information about them.

Nice site.

Theban Mapping Project

The National Anthem (all verses)
Topic: History 12:01 pm EST, Jan 20, 2005

By Francis Scott Key, September 20, 1814:

] Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early light,
] What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
] Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
] O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
] And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
] Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
] O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
] O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
] On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
] Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
] What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
] As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
] Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
] In full glory reflected now shines on the stream:
] 'Tis the star-spangled banner! O long may it wave
] O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
] And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
] That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
] A home and a country should leave us no more?
] Their blood has wiped out their foul footstep's pollution.
] No refuge could save the hireling and slave
] From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
] And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
] O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
] Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
] Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
] Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-rescued land
] Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
] Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just,
] And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
] And the star-spangled banner forever shall wave
] O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

The National Anthem (all verses)

William Henry Harrison: Inaugural Address, March 4, 1841
Topic: History 2:40 pm EST, Jan 14, 2005

] President Harrison has the dual distinction among all
] the Presidents of giving the longest inaugural speech and
] of serving the shortest term of office. Known to the
] public as "Old Tippecanoe," the former general of the
] Indian campaigns delivered an hour-and-forty-five-minute
] speech in a snowstorm. The oath of office was
] administered on the East Portico of the Capitol by Chief
] Justice Roger Taney. The 68-year-old President stood
] outside for the entire proceeding, greeted crowds of
] well-wishers at the White House later that day, and
] attended several celebrations that evening. One month
] later he died of pneumonia.

I recently accomplished a longtime goal of memorizing the name of every single U.S. President, in order. #9 was William Henry Harrison, famous for having the shortest term of office of all of them, primarily because he gave the longest inauguration speech in history, in a snowstorm, while wearing neither a coat nor a hat.

As another interesting bit of trivia, there was a suspicion that he had died because of an Indian curse, since it was under his command that the great Indian leader, Tecumseh, was killed. Harrison was the first President to die in office, and starting with him, every President who was elected in a year ending with zero, died in office, until Reagan in 1980.

1840: W. Harrison (pneumonia). 1860: Lincoln (shot). 1880: Garfield (shot). 1900: McKinley (shot). 1920: Harding (natural causes, though some suspected his wife may have poisoned him). 1940: FDR (old age). 1960: Kennedy (shot). 1980: Reagan (shot, but survived). 2000: G.W. Bush (still alive, last I checked).

8 Presidents have died in office, 7 of them in the list above. Bonus points for anyone who can name the one other President that died in office. ;)

William Henry Harrison: Inaugural Address, March 4, 1841

A Collection of Abraham Lincoln Quotes
Topic: History 12:16 pm EST, Jan 14, 2005

] "If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the
] attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for
] any other business. I do the very best I know how - the
] very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the
] end. If the end brings me out all right, what's said
] against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me
] out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no
] difference."
 . . .
] "Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for
] themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain
] it."
 . . .
] "Common looking people are the best in the world: that is the
] reason the Lord makes so many of them."
 . . .
] "I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming
] conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that
] of all about me seemed insufficient for that day."
 . . .
] "The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy
] present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must
] rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think
] anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we
] shall save our country." Lincoln's Second Annual Message to
] Congress, December 1, 1862.
 . . .
] "With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in
] the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to
] finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to
] care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow
] and his orphan - to do all which may achieve and cherish a just
] and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."
] Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865.

A Collection of Abraham Lincoln Quotes

Previous Surgeons General
Topic: History 12:04 pm EST, Dec  6, 2004

] The first Supervising Surgeon of the Marine Hospital
] Service was appointed in 1871. This position became
] Supervising Surgeon General in 1873 and Surgeon General
] in 1902. The Marine Hospital System was the precursor of
] the U.S. Public Health Service. Fourteen men and two
] women have served in the office. Biographical
] information about each Surgeon General can be viewed by
] selecting the respective picture or text below.

I was surfing the web looking for information on Joycelyn Elders (Surgeon General from 1993-1994), and found this interesting page with dates, pictures, and bios of all the people who have held the office since 1871.

Previous Surgeons General

History: Syncom Satellite
Topic: History 1:09 pm EST, Nov 11, 2004

] The 1963 launch of Syncom, the world's first
] geosynchronous communications satellite, vanquished
] forces of time, cost, and geography to begin a
] communications revolution.

Just found this page, and am meme-ing it for personal reasons. My father, Stan Dunin, (though not mentioned on this particular page) was on the launch team for this satellite. My father taught math at UCLA, and worked for Hughes Aircraft in the Space Systems Division, doing things like calculating trajectories of a vehicle making a soft landing on the moon. For Syncom, he was part of the launch crew at Goddard Space Center, and was responsible for calculating the optimum (minimum fuel) trajectory of a satellite launched into geosynchronous orbit.


History: Syncom Satellite - Ancient burial looks like human and pet cat
Topic: History 3:53 pm EDT, Apr  9, 2004

] An elaborate Neolithic burial site uncovered in the
] Shillourokambos settlement on the Mediterranean island of
] Cyprus reveals that the friendship between cats and
] humans may go back 9,500 years. Prior to the discovery,
] Egyptians were thought to be the first to keep cats as
] pets, around 2,000 to 1,900 BC.

I found this story heart-warming. :) - Ancient burial looks like human and pet cat

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies
Topic: History 7:06 pm EST, Mar  2, 2004

] In this "artful, informative, and delightful" book, Jared Diamond
] convincingly argues that geographical and environmental factors
] shaped the modern world. A major advance in our
] understanding of human societies, Guns, Germs, and Steel
] chronicles the way that the modern world came to be ...
] Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Award in
] Science, the Rhone-Poulenc Prize, and the Commonwealth club of
] California's Gold Medal.

Jeremy writes:
and also, the author is Elonka's cousin!

Elonka writes:
Yup, I'm proud of Jared! His earlier book The Third Chimpanzee is a fascinating read too, if you get a chance. He goes over the near identical genetic makeup that humans and apes have, and then takes a really close look at the tiny 2% difference. The book analyzes how that miniscule amount could be responsible for all the obvious differences: Music, architecture, language, sexual behaviors, and on and on. Interesting stuff!

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies

Code of Hammurabi
Topic: History 12:29 pm EDT, May  6, 2003

I'd been concerned that with the looting of the museums in Baghdad, that the 8-foot-high stone carving of the "Code of Hammurabi" had been lost. There were indeed some reports that it was one of the things taken, but evidently the one in Baghdad was a copy, and the original is still safe in the Louvre in Paris (I guess the French do occasionally have their uses).

This page has a picture and a description of the stele, from the Louvre website. You can also click on the image for a close-up view. A list of the 282 laws there inscribed can be found here:

A lot of the laws have to do with fines for stealing property and livestock or for hurting or causing hurt to others ("Eye for an eye," "Tooth for a tooth.") The fines in "minas" and "shekels" are of course no longer valid, but there are some laws that would be tempting to reinstate today, such as #5:

If a judge try a case, reach a decision, and present his judgment in writing; if later error shall appear in his decision, and it be through his own fault, then he shall pay twelve times the fine set by him in the case, and he shall be publicly removed from the judge's bench, and never again shall he sit there to render judgement.

Code of Hammurabi

World War II -- Map Concealment in Deck of Cards
Topic: History 1:07 pm EDT, Apr 25, 2003

] One cleverly concealed map scheme elicited the help of
] the U.S. Playing Card Company of Cincinnati, Ohio.
] Workers inserted numbered segments of a large escape
] route map into a full deck of cards for reassembly at the
] stalag. Each map segment replaced the card's opaque,
] black center layer, which prevents light from penetrating
] the card and divulging a backlit hand to an opposing
] player. The company printed an entire map onto a block of
] fifty-two cards, two jokers, and two company cards prior
] to cutting, a method that ensured a close fit of map
] segments. Workers affixed the face of the card with a
] water-soluble rubber-based adhesive that could either be
] peeled or soaked apart.

Picture of one of the cards here, under "P.O.W. Playing Cards"

World War II -- Map Concealment in Deck of Cards

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