Thursday, January 19, 2017

Article Review: the Washington Hypothesis

This article appears in the LDS Living magazine July/August 2016 and is based on a book by the same name by Timothy Ballard.  After reading the article, I was thinking I should seek out the book.  The article is interesting as it documents a few things about George Washington I did not know.  First is an incident in the French an Indian War.  It seems the unit in which Washington was fighting was ambushed.  In all rights Washington should have been killed.  Later a chief visited Washington and proclaimed that the great Spirit protected him, because he attempted to shoot him several times, but could not do so.   He had experience in bringing squirrels out of trees, but could not hit Washington.  Of this even Washington later wrote, "I had four bullets through my coat and two horses shot under me and yet escaped unhurt."  It is as if the Lord had a work for Washington to accomplish.  This article also talks about a day of fasting, and Washington insist that the country and his soldiers live in such a way as to deserve the providence of the Lord.  Without that providence, Washington and his army would have been captured on Long Island.  However a fortunate wind kept the British ships at bay, so he and his troops could cross the East River into Manhattan.  This move was not accomplished during the night as hoped.  However, the next day a thick fog come up on the river and provided the cover they needed.  Somehow the fog was not present on Manhattan, but it was thick on the river.
I am aware of George Washington praying at Valley Forge.  However of these bits of history I was not aware.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Native American Story: Great Eagle and Small One

Great Eagle and Small One by Ralph Moisa Jr., Perfection Learning, Logan, Iowa, 1997.
This is a very good short story about an great Eagle, very proud in his appearance and abilities, who is taught a higher lesson by the Great Spirit.  Lightning strikes the eagle, ruffling and damaging his feathers, and taking a leg.  The eagle struggles to relearn life with one leg, and a hampered flying ability.   He grows discouraged and wants to give up, but Little One, another eagle to whom Great Eagle had previously showed kindness, shows kindness to him.  Little One provides nourishment, until great Eagle learns how to hunt again.  the story concludes that both eagles learned something about the inner spirit.  The lesson is basically that sometimes you are the receiver of gifts, and sometimes the giver.  this is a basic fact of life.  Without each other life would be so much harder.

This book also includes a bonus section, which talks about the different kinds of eagles, where they live and what they eat.  Great eagle is a golden eagle, which is of the booted eagle class.

Book Review: Jesse Owens: Olympic Hero

Jesse Owens: Olympic Hero by Francene Sabin, illustrated by Hal Frenck, Troll Associates, New Jersey, 1986.
I really enjoyed getting to know of Jesse Owens.  He was the son of a sharecropper.  However he did not at first participate in the family business because of his poor health.  He  often had respiratory issues.  At one time, he had a bad abscess on his leg, which his mother healed, as they could not afford doctors.  The owner of the share cropper land wanted to change the deal, and pay the family less.  As a result, the family sold everything they had, and moved to Cleveland, Ohio.  Here J.C. improved in health.  Here for the first time Jesse was able to attend school.  Jesse was born James Cleveland Owens.  He was known as J.C.  The first day of school he was shy, and when the teacher asked him his name, he said "J.C." but she heard Jesse, and wrote it down, and the name stuck.  Jesse was to shy to correct her.  It was at school, that the track coach noticed Jesse won all the races.  He wanted him on the team, but Jesse had to work after school.  The coach came early to school every day, as did Jesse, and in that way he was able to be on the track team.  He was running faster than everyone else.  In fact he set a high school record in the 100 yard dash.  Not only that, but he also competed in the broad jump (long jump) the 220 yard dash and the hurdles.  It was clear he would receive a scholarship, and many programs offered.  However Jesse did not feel he could leave his family.  They were still dependent on the money he made.  Ohio State at the time did not offer track scholarships.  However his coach negotiated with them for Jesse to attend, with the school arranging jobs for Jesse to attend.  They also found a steady job for his father.  At the National Collegiate championship of 1935 Jesse tied the record in the 100 yard dash, and set the record in the 220 yard hurdles and the broad jump.  This was a preview for the Olympic games of 1936, held in Berlin.  Jesse's first event was the broad jump qualifying.  The German's were sure their man, Lutz Long would win.  The Nazis ruled Germany at the time, who believed the Aryan race was superior to all others.  This gave Jesse added motivation.  However in the broad jump we struggled in the qualifying round.  With one jump remaining, he still had not qualified.  He had fouled on several jumps.  Long approached him and reminded him that he did not have to do his best jump, but just to qualify.  Long said he wanted Jesse to make the finals.  Jesse took his advice, and qualified.  He was impressed with the sportsmanship shown, and the two became good friends until Long's death in WWII.  When Long injured his leg making an excellent jump, Owens ran to him and massaged his leg.  Owens won the broad jump with a world record setting leap (which record lasted for 25 years).  He won four gold medals, broad jump, 100 met and 220 meter dashes, and the 4x100 relay which also set a world record.
Jesse Owens was an incredible man, and was able to stand up to great pressure competing in Berlin.

HBO's "Nazi Gold in Argentina" Trailer

The video above is to the trailer, however I watched the full documentary on Netflix.  I am not sure what to think after watching this.  Much of the documentary was reenactment, and much of it was boring, but the basic premise was that by examining declassified American documents, and international plot to move Nazis and Nazi gold to Argentina took place during the time that Juan Peron was president of Argentina.  Rudolfo Freude, who was close with the brother of Eva Peron, managed the network which facilitated so many Nazis to escape to Argentina, in exchange for gold which had been stolen from Jews were had been killed in concentration camps.  Apparently much of the Peron's wealth came from these sources.  There was a German community by Bariloche, in the South of Argentina which had a significant population at one time.  After Eva passed away, her brother was later arrested for his involvement.
A murder plot had been set up for Peron.  However this video also shows that Peron fled to the Delta (close to Tigre) and stayed in the residence of a German national.  Because he broke his normal routine, his life was spared.  From here Peron was eventually arrested, but there was time to organize the labor movement who clamored for his release.  From there his election to the presidency was almost foregone.
I still don't know what to think.  The producers contend that dead men don't talk, and there were many murders to maintain the secrecy of this program.  However the secrecy held for 60 years if their contention is true.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Documentary Review: The Lion İn Your Living Room

This documentary is fascinating.  There are things about cats we take for granted, but one of their most intriguing qualities is their mystery.  There seems to something more going on in their little heads.  This documentary delves into this.  did man domesticate cats, or did cats domesticate man?  It seems that the relationship may be more about what cats can get out of the relationship, easy food.  Our cat only seems to love me when his stomach tells him to.  This documentary comments on the evolution of the cat as a domesticate animal.  It indicates that they first come from the Middle East, and then through Egypt, and from there to all the world.  The other really interesting thing is the route travelled by cats every day as they inspect their territory.  Of course cats share territory, and there are only problems when their paths cross.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Casa Grande: New Almaden

Casa Grande
Casa Grande was built in 1854.  There were thoughts of establishing it as a hotel, but this never happened.  It was instead used as a residence for the mine, general manager.  Often guests would stay there as well.  The basement was used as a bank.  Consequently there are bars on the windows, and a vault.  In touring the building, it was decorated for Christmas.  The home supported the mining of mercury nearby.  This mine predated the gold rush, being established in the late 1840s.  This mine was worked for a longer period of time, and provided more wealth than any other mine in California.  Quick silver or mercury was important as at the time it was used for the extraction of gold and silver from their ore.
The vault

the exterior


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Book Review: The Christmas Book: How to Have the Best Christmas Ever

The Christmas Book: How to Have the Best Christmas Ever, Juliana Foster, Scholastic, Inc., New York, 2007.
This book is filled with ideas for a good Christmas, some of which I found helpful but most not.  However the part I liked is the little blurbs about where different Christmas traditions come from.
Santa Clause: Santa evolves from Saint Nicholas, and early Christian priest who was known for giving to others.  It was said he threw money down a chimney which landed in stockings of three young women who did not have money for a dowry.  Santa began to spread as resistance to puritanical movements which wanted to do away with Christmas.  Santa represented the spirit of Christmas.  Washing Irving coined the term Santa Clause as a translation of Sinterklaas.  The poem "A Visit from Saint Nickolas" (now known as "The Night Before Christmas." embedded to definition of Santa Clause in the American character.  Santa has been wearing red since 1885, before Coca Cola's commercials.
Christmas Cards: There are rare wood engravings with Christmas messages from the middle ages; but the extensive use of Christmas cards started in England in 1840.  From there the tradition was introduced to America in 1843, and became very popular by the 1860s.
Christmas Stockings:  Christmas stocking may predate Christmas when German children left hay in their shoes for the god Odin and his hunting party.  As a Christmas tradition it is attributed to Saint Nicholas leaving gifts in stockings hung by the fire to dry.
Christmas Tree:  Here is another tradition that predates Christianity.  In Pagan times evergreens were symbolic of new life.  The first mention of the Christmas Tree is when Saint Boniface cut down an oak tree where a group of pagans were worshipping Thor.  A fir tree grew in its place, and this was proclaimed the symbol of Christianity.  It wasn't until Martin Luther however that the tree was brought indoors.  He was walking through a grove of pines, and observed the starts through the branches, and determined to bring this beauty into his home.  From Germany the tradition spread to England and then the United States.
Caroling: Originally the word caroling meant to dance in a circle with flute music being played.  The were introduced into church services in the 13th century by Saint Francis de Assisi.  The practice of going door to door singing began in Rome.  Wassailing was a practice by which peasants visited feudal lords in exchange for hot punch (wassail) or other favors.
The Yule Log: This tradition is traced to Norsemen.  It coincided with the winter solstice.  A log was cut form an oak.  when the fire was extinguished a small piece of wood was saved to light next year's log.  Ashes were spread on the ground for fertility.
Mistletoe:  Mistletoe again predates Christianity.  It was hung over doorways to ward off evil spirits.  Its evergreen nature is a symbol of prosperity and fertility.  The tradition of kissing is less clear.  However, any young woman under the mistletoe cannot refuse a kiss.  However if unkissed under the mistletoe she will not marry within the year.
Holly and Ivy:  Again these plant predate Christianity in traditions.  The holly (masculine) and ivy )feminine) were used in fertility rites.  Holly was associated with the Roman holiday Saturnalia, which is very similar to Christmas.  Holly is associated with Christ because of the red berries, and sharp edged leaves representing the crown of thorns placed on Christ's head.
There is also a section on traditions from around the world.    Some are quite strange.  In Wales the carry a horse's skull on a stick, and those it touches must pay a fine.