Monday, February 27, 2017

Book Review: Let's Read About...Martin Luther King, Jr.

Let's Read About martin Luther King, Jr. by Courtney Baker, Illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu, Scholistic, New York, 2001.
This is a very good book about the childhood of Martin Luther King, and the things that would effect him in later life.  It explains the circumstances of his developing a dream that children would be able to live together, no matter the color of their skin.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Chapter Review: When Did the First People Arrive in America?

Unsolved Mysteries of American History, by Paul Aaron, Barnes and Noble Books, New York, 1997.
This book starts with a chapter on the origin of the Native Americans.  It proposed that the majority of them came across the Bering Strait, when it was a land bridge at the end of an ice age in about 12,000 B.C.  However there are others how have evidence of earlier inhabitants.  There are also those who contend that some of the Native Americans are of Hebrew or Middle Eastern origin.  Some even contend they were survivors of Atlantis.  I think in the end, accepting all theories as a partial explanation for the arrival of the Native Americans is a good bet.  Of course theories of native Americans coming from the lost tribes predates Joseph Smith.  The Book of Mormon explains the arrival of a group to America, although likely only a small group compared to those already here.  If you ask Native Americans themselves, they will tell you many stories of how they arrived as well.

Hydraulic Mining and the California Gold Rush

Water cannon
Hydraulic mining was a practice which worked for extracting gold.  However it was not very healthy for the environment.  The water cannon would not only force the gravel and dirt into a sluice, where the gold was separated, it also destroyed the undergrowth and the hillsides.  The practice was halted by the federal government in 1885.

This pictures shows the result on the hillside.
This is a rest area on the I-80.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Book Review: America's Tea Parties: Not One But Four!

America’s Tea Parties: Not One But Four! Boston, Charleston, New York, Philadelphia, by Marissa Moss, ABRAMS, New York, 2016.
This is an interesting read, and explains the original tea parties better than anything I have read.  I was always under the mistaken impression there was just the tea party in Boston, and didn’t know about the others.  In fact the author points out there were numerous tea parties, some small and some larger.   Sevem tea boats were sent to America, with the added tax attached.  Americas made a commitment not to accept the tea, and not to pay the tax.  Boston was the first "tea party.”  To assure the tea wasn’t used or tax collected, it was dumped into the sea.  The protestors were careful not to damage other property, even replacing a padlock.  In some instances tax collectors were tar and feathers, using pine tar so no physical injury was afflicted.  The British responded by occupying Boston, and closing the port.  They intended to keep the port closed until the destroyed tea with the tax, was paid for.  The British also passed several oppressive laws in response.  The heavy-handed response, further emboldened the Americans.  In fact many stopped being British at this time and became Americans.  Also the colonies began acting in concert with a joint goal, not to accept any tea from England.  Before this, American enjoyed a cup of tea.  However many committed not to drink tea.  The beverage of choice was thereafter coffee.  The actions surrounded the tea parties would galvanize the Americans, and eventually lead to the Revolutionary War. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Book Review: Determination: The Story of Jackie Robinson

Determination: The Story of Jackie Robinson, by Deborah Woodworth, illustrated by Robin Lawrie, The Child's World, North Mankota, Minnesota, 1999.
This is a very interesting story about the opening of Major League Baseball to African American players.  Jackie Robinson lived in an era of racial strife.  Even in Pasadena, California he was discriminated against at a lunch counter.  When he started playing baseball he had to put up with the most vile insults.  He had agreed not to respond for the first couple years, to assure that he would be able to continue to play.  He kept his agreement, but it was hard.  He had to often stay in a separate hotel than the rest of the players.  However he let his play do the talking.  His was got at all facets of the game, fielding, base running, and hitting.  His first year he was rookie of the year.  A couple years later he was MVP.  After his career he became a member of the Hall of Fame.  His ability to stick with the Dodgers lead to other African Americans being able to play.  He would call them and offer support.  Many players had a friend and mentor in Robinson.  My only complaint is one illustration has the wrong hand on top on the bat.  It is just strange.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mining Museum: New Almaden

The Mining Museum is located in Casa Grande.  The mining f mercury was very interesting.  Mining the ore was not dangerous.  The mercury is in a solid state and poses no threat.  however in the process of mercury it had to be evaporated, and the gas collected.  this did pose a risk, so the workers could only work one day per month in the processing of the ore.  They gave me a large rock of cinnebar to heft and it was very heavy for its size.
old washboard
Chinese plate made of Cinnebar (mercury ore)

Native Americans used cinnebar for body painting

Friday, February 10, 2017

Native American Stories: The Rough-Face Girl (2004)

This story is very much like Cinderella.  In fact the rough face girl is burnt by the ashes, as Cinderella's name means ashes, although she wasn't burned caring for the fire, she was dirty as a result.  In the story the Rough-Face Girl has two older sisters, who think themselves beautiful and above tending for the fire.  The both want to Mary the invisible man, but they have not seen him.  However the Rough-Face Girl has seen him, because here heart is pure.  This is a good story to remind us of what really is important.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Documentary Review: What Was Ours

"What Was Ours" is a documentary from Indie Lens released January 17 on PBS.  I enjoyed this.  It is about the Shoshone and Arapaho from Wyoming, Wind River Reservation.  When the economic foundation of the Native Americans changed, many sold their artifacts to museums, or in one case to a Deacon of the Episcopal Church, and the items were lost to the tribe.
This documentary tells three stories, two young Arapaho, one a young woman, Mikala, a high school senior.  She was princess of a Denver March Pow Wow.  Her family is important to hear, going back through generations.  He tells the story of her grandfather who was a previous keeper of artifacts.   A young man, Jordan, interested in bringing the items back to the reservation.  He is interested in the storytelling of his paper, which tells you are part of a bigger picture.   Lastly an elderly Shoshone, Philbert, who served in the Viet Nam War as a helicopter gunner.  He always carried his talisman as a good luck charm.  All three are trying to maintain their Indian ways in a modern way.  Some of the items which have left the reservation were sacred objects.
There had been a museum on the reservation,  but the items were removed when there was no longer anyone to care for them.  Philbert works for the casino, and a space in the casino set aside for a museum.
These three are part of a group which traveled to Chicago to see items stored or displayed there.  However the focus on the film is the return of items owned by the Episcopalian Church; those which had been at the museum.  In the end, there is a cooperation between the reservation, the church and the casino which lead to the items being returned and displayed on the reservation.
This documentary is fascinating.  It shows a people trying to tight rope two cultures.  This struggle for their artifacts is just one part of that struggle.  The colors and the artwork in some of the pieces is just fascinating.  They also talk about the history behind some of the pieces they are creating contemporarily.  There is also insight given on how some of the ancient pieces were used.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Witness: A documentary about Kitty Genovese (2015)

The Witness is a fascinating story.  It tells a story that has haunted America for half a century.  Kitty is the woman who was murdered in New York in 1964, reportedly as 64 people heard her screams and watched the murder but did nothing.  She has been the study of sociology books, what motivates us to act?  The brother of Kitty, who was 16 at the time of her murder, tells the family story and takes another look at the report behind this case.
The brother found out that the report of 38 witnesses was rather arbitrary.  Police however did interview 38 people.  Some heard a scream, some heard a scream and got up (it was 3 in the morning), looked out the window, didn't see or hear anything more, and went back to bed.  One man yelled down to  the perpetrator, get out of here, and he fled.  Initially Kitty was stabbed twice.  She had dropped to her knees, and struggled to her feet.  She then went around the corner and into a stairwell of her apartment.  The people then could not see her.  The perpetrator returned, and attacked her again.  He raped her and stabbed her more times.  She screamed, and on of her neighbors came to her aid after the deed had been done, when she realized what was happening.  Kitty, although mortally wounded, did not die alone, but in the arms of a friend.  In many regards the story is different than reported.  In fact, some of the witnesses said they called police.  However, the police did not respond.  They thought it was the  result of bar room shenanigans as there was a bar close by.  Even her  roommate (lover) was not awoken by the screams, and didn't know anything until the police woke her up.  She was called upon to identify the body.  This movie shows this story from many more angles that what had been represented, and the subject of many books and articles.  It is a story about mass media failure.  Many witnesses felt they were misquoted, and so stopped talking to the media.  There was not a 9-11 system at the time, and the few who called were not taken seriously.  there was only one recorded call from the night.  
One of the things this movie presents is the effect the murder had on people; the effect on the two families.  The genovese family was really torn, and coped by not talking about Kitty.  Bill, who is the narrator and teller of the story, joined the Marines, served in Viet Nam and there lost his legs.  Other siblings had their own struggles to put the events behind them.  Bill even interviewed the murderer's son, and then the effect on his family, wife and two children, was manifested.
Very good film which combats many misconceptions I had of these events.  They have an actress act out the screams, which was very eerie and brought the night home.