September 30, 1975: President Gerald Ford officially dedicates the J. Edgar Hoover Building. The building is located at 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. It is the national headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It was named for the former director of the Bureau. From 1975 to 1999, guided tours were available to the public. They have been discontinued. The FBI headquarters had previously been located in the Department of Justice Building. Designs were finalized in 1964 and construction began in 1967. The new name was authorized on May 4, 1972 – two days after Hoover died.
The building is in the Brutalist architecture style and is often criticized. Brutalist style stems from the modernist architectural movement. The term comes from the French béton brut, or raw concrete. Buildings designed in the style contain repetitive angular geometries. The concrete often displays the wooden forms used for pouring. Buildings of this type are found around the world. The Washingtonian magazine has listed this building along with the Kennedy Center as structures they would like to see torn down.
The FBI came into being in 1908. Attorney General Charles Bonaparte and President Theodore Roosevelt worked together to create a new efficient and expert investigative service. Each state had domain over its own territory and when the country was smaller, it worked well. With crime crossing state lines, a new federal service was needed – but controversial. The corps of Special Agents had no name and only the Attorney General to answer to. The Department of Justice also saw a need for an investigative force. On July 26, 1908 Bonaparte ordered ten agents to report directly to Chief Examiner Stanley W. Finch, the beginning of the FBI.
Today, the FBI has 56 field offices in major cities throughout the US and Puerto Rico. These field offices are further subdivided into smaller resident agencies. There are over 400 resident agencies as well as 50+ international offices in US embassies around the world. There are nearly 31,000 employees for the government controlled agency. Their 2007 budget was $6.4 billion. Robert S. Mueller, III has been the Director since 2001. The FBI’s investigative priorities are responsive to the needs of the country and have shifted over time.
“Agents need to be free to pursue investigations in ways that they haven’t. There have been restraints that a reformed FBI needs to make sure we don’t impose.” – John Ashcroft
“And so every one of us in the FBI, I don’t care if it’s a file clerk someplace or an agent there or a computer specialist, understands that our main mission is to protect the public from another September 11, another terrorist attack.” – Robert Mueller
“Good FBI officers are not noticeable. You would never look at them.” – Ridley Scott
“Just the minute the FBI begins making recommendations on what should be done with its information, it becomes a Gestapo.” – J. Edgar Hoover
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: J. Edgar Hoover was the first director of the FBI and held the post from its inception until his death in 1972. He served under six Presidents beginning with Franklin D. Roosevelt and ending with Richard Nixon. Truman accused Hoover of turning the FBI into his private police force. Hoover’s largest concern was the spread of Communism. Although he did spend time with controlling gangsters and the Mafia, he was far more concerned with the Red Menace. He fought against any restraints placed by any outside force, including the Supreme Court, and would deliberately and secretly ignore any rule he didn’t like. COINTELPRO was his chief area of concern and was often working directly outside the law but to Hoover’s specifications.
Also on this day: Meet the Flintstones – In 1960, The Flintstones come to prime time television.
Farm Work – In 1962, the first meeting of the National Farm Workers Association too place.
Magic – In 1791, The Magic Flute premiered.
September 29, 1954: The European Organization for Nuclear Research is established when their charter is ratified by the 12 founding Member States. Already functioning as a provisional body, they were now globally recognized. After WWII, Europe’s place as a bastion for scientific research was losing ground. In December 1949 the first proposal for a united European scientific community was set forth. French, Italian, and Danish scientists called for a cohesive unit to merge not only findings, but funding.
The French name for the group was Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nulcéaire or CERN. The pure physics research of the day concerned the study of the insides of the atom, hence “nuclear.” One of the first massive projects was the building of a particle accelerator. Built in 1957, it provided CERN researchers with beams for particle and nuclear physics experiments. This early accelerator worked for 33 years before being retired in 1990. A new and improved accelerator continued using ISOLDE (a particular type of beam).
In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee developed a distributed information system for CERN. His boss called the system “vague, but exciting” so work continued on the infant system. Berners-Lee saw his fledgling system as a way for scientists around the globe to share news. By Christmas 1990 a new little idea was blossoming across the planet. The World Wide Web was emerging. Tweaks and debugging, refinement of systems, hardware upgrades and by 1994 there were 10,000 servers and 10 million users on the web.
Today, the world’s premiere scientific researchers still hold physics as their fundamental basis for study. They wish only to find out what the Universe is made of and how it works. There are now 20 Member States (all European) with many non-European countries also involved. CERN employs 2,500 people who build and design the accelerators as well as help with the running of scientific experiments. About 8,000 visiting scientists (half the world’s particle physicists), come to CERN for their research. They represent 580 universities and 85 nationalities. CERN is located on the Switzerland-France border – literally.
“Equipped with his five senses, man explores the universe around him and calls the adventure Science.” – Edwin Powell Hubble
“Nature composes some of her loveliest poems for the microscope and the telescope.” – Theodore Roszak
“Research is what I’m doing when I don’t know what I’m doing.” – Wernher von Braun
“Physics is imagination in a straight jacket.” – John Moffat
“If we wish to make a new world we have the material ready. The first one, too, was made out of chaos.” – Robert Quillen
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: CERN is home to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) which is the highest energy particle collider every constructed and is said to be one of the great engineering milestones of mankind. It took ten years to build with construction beginning in 1998 and being completed in 2008. It was built for many different experimental uses but one of the most widely talked about was the proving or disproving of the Higgs boson which was predicted by the supersymmeric theories. The structure lies in a tunnel with a circumference of 17 miles which is 574 feet below the surface near Geneva, Switzerland. It went live on September 10, 2008 but only nine days later a faulty electrical connection caused an explosion and extensive damage. It took fourteen months to repair the damage and the LHC was again functioning on November 20, 2009.
Also on this day: Come Up and See Me Some Time – In 1650, the first documented dating service opens in England.
The Met – In 1829, the Metropolitan Police of London were formed.
What a Headache – In 1982, the Tylenol murders began.
September 28, 1975: Franklin Davies enters the Spaghetti House. The restaurant was located in Knightsbridge, London. Ten of the chain’s staff members were collecting the week’s income, about £13,000 (≈ £82,000 2009 BPS) when Davies and two others burst in. The armed robbery did not go as planned. One man escaped and alerted police. The other nine were led into a basement and held as hostages. Davies, a Nigerian, claimed to represent the Black Liberation Front, a subgroup of the Black Panthers. The Italian restaurateurs were held in a storeroom.
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) immediately surrounded the business and cordoned off the area. The criminals demanded safe passage and an aircraft to Jamaica. Sir Robert Mark of MPS contacted the Home Office, the British government office in charge of immigration, security, and control. The demands of the hostage takers were not met and the siege was on. The nine hostages and three gunmen lived off tins of food stored in the basement. Two of the men became ill and were released over the next few days. The Italian Consul, General Mario Manca, had generously offered himself in order to affect a release of the ill men.
Because foreign nationals were involved, the case took on a more urgent tone. A new technology, fiber optic surveillance, was used and gave authorities real time information on the hostages. Dr. Peter Scott, a psychiatrist, assisted with police interactions. The men inside were given a radio, coffee, and cigarettes. Police and the media cooperated with the radio broadcasting messages crafted to demoralize the hostage takers. They planted misinformation convincing Davies his plan would fail. He was led to believe a confederate was selling information to the media, after the Daily Mail held back a scoop about the confederate’s arrest.
Six days later, the remaining Italian hostages were freed. They emerged one at a time and were whisked away to the local hospital to make sure they were in good health. Wesley Dick (24) and Anthony Gordon Munroe (22) were arrested as they emerged. The men from the West Indies were taken to Cannon Row Police Station. Davies (28) did not come out. Police found him lying in the cellar with a gunshot wound and a .22 pistol by his side. He was taken to St. George’s Hospital for treatment. Over 400 police, the Home Office, the Italian Consul, and the media worked together to achieve a successful outcome.
“Our principal drive is not to negotiate with hostage-takers and not to negotiate with terrorists, and this is where we find our strength is.” – Ayad Allawi
“It’s about as an abominable a crime as one can imagine – hostage-taking, cold-blooded murder of hostages.” – James Foley
“The biggest misconception about hostage negotiators is that we’re great talkers, when really we’re good listeners.” – Christopher Curtis
“It’s the same as in hostage negotiation, we never use the word ‘gun.’ Instead of saying, ‘I need you to lower that gun,’ you say, ‘I need you to lower that thing.’ Calling it a ‘thing’ diminishes the weapon’s power.” – Christopher Curtis
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: Sir Robert Mark was the Chief Constable of Leicester City Police before serving as the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police from 1972-1977. He was the first to achieve this lofty post by rising through the ranks from the lowest to the highest position. He was born in 1917 in a suburb of Manchester and was the youngest of five children. After finishing his schooling he got a job selling carpet; two years later he joined the police force as a Constable. He entered the Army and served first in a tank division and later at the War Office. He took part in the Normandy Landings and was promoted to the rank of Major before leaving the service. After the war he returned to Manchester and the police and rose rapidly with a series of promotions. He resigned his post after a public disagreement with the Home Secretary. He died in 2010 at the age of 93.
Also on this day: Victory – In 1781, George Washington began his assault on Yorktown, the last battle of the Revolutionary War.
Black Sox – In 1920, eight Chicago White Sox players were indicted.
Races – In 1919, the Omaha Race Riots began.
September 27, 1540: Pope Paul III signs the Bull “Regimini militantis ecclesiae” and so establishes the Society of Jesus or Jesuits. Ignatius of Loyola was born in 1491 at the castle of Loyola in Spain. He was the youngest of thirteen children. By 1509 he was aligned with the Duke of Nájara and proved adept at both military leadership and diplomacy. He fought without sustaining any injuries until 1520. At that time he was severely wounded and returned to the castle to heal (or die). During his recuperation, he read De Vita Christi by Ludolph of Saxony. He continued his religious reading and changed his life.
Ignatius traveled to Paris, Rome, and Jerusalem as he continued his studies. He was imprisoned several times. He and six others, including Francis Xavier, took a vow in 1534, defining their new purpose in life. They entered into a life of poverty and chastity and vowed to enter “hospital and missionary work” wherever the Pope would direct them. In 1537, they traveled to Rome to get papal approval and the Pope permitted them to be ordained as priests. The group was intent on serving in Jerusalem but a war was in progress and impeded their travel. There was debate within the Catholic hierarchy, but finally the Papal Bull or charter was issued.
The original charter gave the group a limit of sixty members. Number restrictions were rescinded in a subsequent Bull issued in 1543. Ignatius was the first Superior General of the Society of Jesus. As such, he wrote “The Formula of the Institute” whereby he laid out the fundamental charter for Jesuits. All following documents flow from and must conform to this initial text. Francis Xavier left for India with two other Jesuits in 1541 and arrived thirteen months later, establishing a base for missionary work in the East.
Today, the Society of Jesus is the largest religious order of priests and brothers in the Catholic Church. The greatest number of members serve in India with the second highest concentration residing in the US. There are over 19,200 members serving in 112 nations on six continents. The current Superior General is Adolfo Nicolás. The Jesuits are famous for missionary work, human rights advocacy, social justice, and higher education. They run many colleges, universities, and high schools around the world with fifty in the US alone. The Society has been rumored to have been involved in conspiracies and have suffered from controversy during their centuries of service.
“Teach us to give and not to count the cost.” – Ignatius of Loyola
“Imagine that leader of all the enemy, in that great plain of Babylon, sitting on a sort of throne of smoking flame, a horrible and terrifying sight. Watch him calling together countless devils, to dispatch them into different cities till the whole world is covered, forgetting no province or locality, no class or single individual.” – Ignatius of Loyola
“Give me the children until they are seven and anyone may have them afterwards.” – Francis Xavier
“If you know anything about Loyola or the Jesuits, you would expect us to do this. People don’t come to a Jesuit university expecting mediocrity.” – Lisa Martin
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: The Jesuits have been accused of seeking out power and political intrigue. They have been said to create unjustifiable causes for their unsavory ends as well as being anti-Semitic. As counterpoint to that last issue, twelve named Jesuit priests have been formally recognized for their heroic rescue efforts during World War II’s horrific Holocaust. The Jesuits were considered to be one of the Nazi party’s greatest enemies. Over the centuries many Jesuits contributed to a wide variety of scholarly learning especially in the sciences. They have also contributed to our greater understanding of mathematics and history. There has even been one Pope who was a Jesuit.
September 26, 1774: Environmentalist and folk hero John Chapman is born in Leominster, Massachusetts. He was the second child of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Chapman who were struggling farmers. A third child was born while Nathaniel was serving as a carpenter during the Revolutionary War. John’s baby brother and mother both died and John and his sister were raised by relatives until after the war. Nathaniel remarried and he and his new wife had ten more children. At age 18, John and his 11-year-old half-brother left home and traveled west. He became a nurseryman and grew fruit trees.
By 1800, the Chapmans were in Licking County, Ohio and were growing trees there. Revolutionary War veterans were granted lands in Ohio and Nathaniel moved west to join his eldest son. John’s nurseries were doing well. He took seeds and left his trees to go off further westward, planting groves of trees and building fencing to protect them from livestock. He would place a local farmer in charge of the trees and return every year or two to check on progress. Trees could be sold and John would use the proceeds to fund further plantings.
He continued to wander the countryside, planting groves of trees. He lived an ascetic, subsistence life, traveling as far as Indiana and Illinois. His seeds were acquired free from cider mills. His lifestyle cost little. He dressed in secondhand clothes people had used to barter for his trees. He wore no shoes even in winter. He had no house to maintain. If John heard of a horse to be put down, he would buy it. He then fed, pampered, and doctored the horse back to health. He would then give the horse to someone in need for the promise to treat it kindly.
As John traveled farther afield, he told stories to the children and preached a little gospel to the adults in return for permission to sleep on the floor and food for the night. He was an early environmentalist, planting trees across the frontier and caring for animals. His original nursery in Ohio remained in his name and when he died his sister inherited over 1,200 acres worth millions of dollars. He is remembered by US children as one who skips and sings through the countryside often wearing a saucepan for a hat. Most of his trees have succumbed to old age, but one is said to survive in Nova, Ohio. The legacy of Johnny Appleseed.
“You never know how many apples there are in a seed.” – unknown
“We are born believing. A man bears beliefs as a tree bears apples.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples don’t count on harvesting golden Delicious.” – unknown
“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” – Martin Luther
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: Apple trees are part of the species Malus domestica which is part of the rose family. They originated in Central Asia from a wild ancestor, Malus sieversii, which is still found today. They have been grown for thousands of years in both Asia and Europe. They appear in the mythologies of many cultures including Norse, Greek, and Christian traditions. There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples. Different cultivars are bred for taste or consistency and are therefore better suited to cooking, eating, or cider making. In 2010, the genome was decoded and there is now a greater understanding for disease control and selective breeding. Diseases can affect the trees. They are susceptible to fungal and bacterial problems as well as larger pests. These are controlled either organically or non-organically. Each year, about 69 million tons of apples are grown worldwide with China growing the most.
Also on this day: The Parthenon – In 1687, part of the Parthenon was destroyed during a bombing attack by the Ottoman Turks.
Lurking Evil – In 1937, The Shadow premiered.
Thrown Games – In 1908, Big Ed Reulbach pitched a no hitter double header.
September 25, 1997: A new land speed record is made. A land speed record is the fastest speed achieved by a wheeled vehicle on land, as opposed to speeds in the air or on water. The first regulators for measuring and validation were the Automobile Club de France beginning in 1902. By 1924, with a variety of standards causing confusion, a new group – AIACR – set up standards and rules for all. The AIACR changed their name to FIA in 1947. The fastest vehicles were trains for many years.
On April 29, 1899 Camille Jenatzy of France topped the 100 km/h bar at 65.79 mph or 105.88 km/h. The first to surpass 100 mph was Louis Rigolly of Belgium who raced to 103.56 mph (166.66 km/h) in 1904. The last speed record on a beach reached 276.71 mph (445.32 km/h) on March 7, 1935 when Malcolm Campbell of Great Britain was racing his Campbell-Railton Blue Bird at Daytona Beach, Florida.
Speed trials moved from the beach to the Bonneville Salt Flats in the US. From 1963 on, the speed records have been set by jet and rocket propulsion vehicles. Since jet engines don’t drive axels, the FIA did not sanction the early speed records for these types of cars. A new category was added for non-wheel-driven vehicles. Speeds approached and then topped the 400 mph (640 km/h) mark. Breaking the sound barrier (outracing the speed at which sound waves move) was officially broken by Chuck Yeager on October 14, 1947 when he flew his X-1 aircraft fast enough. On this date, Andy Green broke the sound barrier on land when he drove his Thrust SSC over Black Rock Desert at 714.44 mph (1,149.30 km/h).
The Thrust SSC (SuperSonic Car) is British in design. The jet propelled car was designed by Richard Nobel, Glynne Bowsher, Ron Ayers, and Jeremy Bliss. It is powered by two Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan engines. The car was driven by RAF Wing Commander Andy Green. The car was once again raced on October 15, 1997, 50 years and 1 day after Yeager’s record flight. This time the speed reached was 763.035 mph (1,227.99 km/h) making it the first supersonic land record. Green reached Mach 1.016 speeds. Green and Nobel are working together with Bloodhound SSC and hope to break the 1000 mph limit.
“It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“Speed provides the one genuinely modern pleasure.” – Aldous Huxley
“Every car has a lot of speed in it. The trick is getting the speed out of it.” – A J Foyt
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: Bonneville Salt Flats are located in Tooele County in Utah and is one of many salt flats located west of the Great Salt Lake. Geologist Grove Karl Gilbert named the area after Benjamin Bonneville, a US Army officer and explorer who mapped the region in the 1830s. It was first used as a raceway in 1907 when Bill Rishel and two others raced a Pierce-Arrow across the flats. A railway first crossed the flats in 1910. The first land speed record was set there in 1914 by Teddy Tetzlaff who drove a 300 HP Benz at 142.8 mph (229.8 km/h). The salt makes a somewhat slick surface and cars start out slower on the flats, therefore no 0-60 records are broken here. There are two to three tracks for racers to run and reach their high speeds. However the flats are shrinking. The salt is being used for other purposes and once covered 90.000 acres but today is down to an area of about 30,000 acres.
Also on this day: The Supremes – In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to sit on the US Supreme Court.
Lots of Water – In 1513, Balboa reached the Pacific Ocean.
Spread the News – In 1690, the American colonies got their first locally printed multi-page newspaper.
September 24, 1947: Harry S Truman did not form a secret society. On July 7, 1947 something crashed in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico. Personnel from Roswell Army Air Field recovered debris from a top-secret research balloon – or an alien spacecraft with possible crew members alive and well. Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO) have been sighted since mankind first looked up into the sky. Some were comets, meteors, or unknown and rarely visible planets. Others were omens, angels, and various other-worldly phenomenons.
It is alleged that the President formed a secret committee comprised of military leaders, government officials, and of course, scientists. Their mission was to gather information and protect the nation from alien harm. It is suggested that Dr. Vannevar Bush and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal were the driving force behind the group’s origin. The 12 core members were all deceased by the time the Majestic 12 was revealed by astute researchers gaining access to the “Top Secret” papers.
The 12 members were said to be helped by other noted scientist of the time – e.g. Oppenheimer, Einstein, and von Braun. The men listed as members of the group did look into various claims of UFO sightings. Several books were written – giving evidence supporting Earthlings creativity and increasing scientific knowledge, but no known contact with alien life forms. They were men who were responsible for the country’s safety and as the arms and space race blossomed, were keenly aware of the disturbances. It was their job to watch the skies (and other possible routes for invasion).
At the time of the “discovery” there was an outcry from the public of government cover-up. Supporting documentation was produced by Jamie Shandera (a ufologist) and William Moore (Roswell researcher). Further investigation by outsiders revealed Moore’s involvement in trying to procure bogus documentation supporting alien existence from various sources – from nuclear physicist Stanton T. Friedman to National Enquirer reporter Bob Pratt. The FBI has examined all documentation provided and due to formatting inconsistencies and errors with dating, have labeled them fraudulent.
“It’s a very typical UFO sighting. Carter said it changed color and, in the physical report, described it as being about the size of the moon. And he saw it with about twenty-five other people.” – Dwight Schultz
“I don’t mind UFO’s and ghost stories, it’s just that I tend to give value to the storyteller rather than to the story itself.” – Robert Stack
“I’ll tell you, too, that’s starting to depress me about UFO’s, about the fact that they cross galaxies, or wherever they come from to visit us, and always end up in places like Fife, Alabama. Maybe these are not super-intelligent beings, man.” – Bill Hicks
“I don’t believe in the UFO mythology but I find it fascinating. Episodically, I find it fascinating.” – Ken MacLeod
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: UFO conspiracy theories argue that evidence of unidentified flying objects as well as extraterrestrial visitors are being suppressed by government entities globally. The “proof” for these accusations is often totally nonexistent or at best very thin. The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry does not subscribe to a cover-up. However, there are some well-credentialed people who do claim there has been a cover-up of intentional dismissal on the subject of UFOs and extraterrestrial visits, at least by the US government. There have been claims that the White House has suppressed, ignored, or marginalized reports from generals, pilots, and other government officials. Some claim this is to facilitate the abduction of humans by the aliens.
Also on this day: Powerful Serve; Best Backhand – In 1938, John Donald Budge became the first tennis player to win the Grand Slam of tennis.
Devil’s Tower – In 1906, this landmark was declared a National Monument.
Byzantine – In 1180, Manuel I Komnenos died.
September 23, 1999: The twentieth century’s most serious jet plane accident occurs – for Qantas. QF1 or QFA1 is the Kangaroo Route making two hops for the trip from Sydney to London. An intermediate stop for refueling takes place in Bangkok, Singapore, or Hong Kong. This trip called for a stop in Bangkok. The flight left Sydney at 1645 local time. Eight hours later, the plane approached Bangkok at 2245 (10:45 PM), local time. Weather conditions worsened rapidly as the area was blanketed by a rain storm, rather routine for the region. Visibility went from 5 miles to a half mile in less than thirty minutes.
A storm cloud hung over the airport. Thai Airways Airbus A330 landed normally just seven minutes earlier. Qantas QF15 chose a “go around” due to poor visibility, a fact unknown to her sister ship. Rain fell heavily and QF1 was both slightly too fast and too high for a perfect landing, although both were within the limits for a safe landing. The captain hesitated as his wheels hovered over the tarmac and opted to land rather than do a touch and go. The indecision caused a delay in the application of the thrust levers. One engine did not respond appropriately and the automatic braking was delayed. The jet first hydroplaned and then went into a skid. The plane ran out of runway before coming to a halt. An orderly evacuation took place within twenty minutes and 38 passengers reported minor injuries.
The investigation found the Boeing 747 had sustained “substantial” damage. The nose landing gear and one main landing gear were separated from the plane during the overrun. The plane was repaired and put back into service. The pilot had 15,881 hours of flying experience at the time of the accident, 724 of those hours with this type of plane. The co-pilot had flown 8,973 hours total with 5,187 of them in this type of plane. Australian report # 199904538 was completed on April 26, 2001 and listed Weather/Environment as the cause of the accident.
Qantas was founded in 1920 and is the national airline of Australia. Originally dubbed “The Flying Kangaroo” it is the second oldest continually operating airline in the world. Their “no fatalities” record refers to the jet era only. The first fatal accident occurred on March 24, 1927 when three were killed as an engine stalled during a landing. Ten more crashes claimed 76 more victims of the 128 passengers and crew. Qantas entered the jet age in 1959, eight years after the last fatal crash.
“The natural function of the wing is to soar upwards and carry that which is heavy up to the place where dwells the race of gods. More than any other thing that pertains to the body it partakes of the nature of the divine.” – Plato
“Man must rise above the Earth – to the top of the atmosphere and beyond – for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.” – Socrates
“There is no sport equal to that which aviators enjoy while being carried through the air on great white wings.” – Wilbur Wright
“You haven’t seen a tree until you’ve seen its shadow from the sky.” – Amelia Earhart
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: Qantas remains operational to this day. They are headquartered in Qantas Centre in Mascot, a suburb of the City of Botany Bay, in Sydney, New South Wales. Their main hub is at the Sydney Airport with two others located at Melbourne Airport and Brisbane Airport. They have three secondary hubs located in Adelaide, Dubai, and Perth. Today, their fleet has 147 planes servicing 41 destinations – 20 domestic and 21 international. Leigh Clifford is the Chairman of the Board and Alan Joyce is CEO. In 2008, an Airbus A330-300 was traveling from Singapore to Perth and suffered a rapid loss of altitude. The pilot recovered control of the plane and landed safely, although not in Perth. Fourteen people were transported by air ambulance to Perth and another 30 needed hospital treatment. An additional 30 people were injured, but did not require hospital treatment.
Also on this day: I Shot the Sheriff – In 1980, Bob Marley played his last concert.
40-40 Club – In 1988, Jose Canseco began the 40-40 Club.
Lost at Sea – In 1641, the Merchant Royal, a British merchant ship, sunk.
September 22, 1776: Nathan Hale gives up his one life for his country. Hale was born in Coventry, Connecticut on June 6, 1755. At age 13, he and his brother, Enoch, began their educations at Yale College. Both brothers joined Linonia, Yale’s literary fraternity. They were able to debate on a wide range of topics including astronomy, mathematics, literature, and ethics, especially the ethics of slavery. Nathan graduated with first-class honors in 1773 at the age of 18.
Nathan took a job teaching in East Haddam and then moved to New London. When war was declared, the young man left his teaching position to join the Connecticut militia. He was elected first lieutenant. He was not yet fully instated and missed the fighting during the Siege of Boston (April 19 – March 17, 1775) but joined the regular Continental Army’s 7th Connecticut Regimen on July 6, 1775. He served under Colonel Charles Webb.
By March 1776, Nathan was promoted to Captain and was given command of a small unit of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Knowlton’s Rangers with the orders to defend New York City. During the Battle of Long Island, the first major battle after the Declaration of Independence was issued, New York City was taken over by a flanking maneuver of the British forces. A delegation of Patriots met with the British on September 11, 1776 but peace was averted as the rebellious Americans refused to withdraw the Declaration.
Hale volunteered to go behind enemy lines to secure information regarding enemy strength and movement to bring back to General Washington. Hale was captured and as usual for the era, hanged as a spy and illegal combatant. Hale was marched to his execution site and “comported himself eloquently” but no one wrote down his speech. It was only later and by hearsay evidence that his famous line was recorded. The 21-year-old may have quoted lines from Joseph Addison’s play, Cato, instead. Either way, he is a hero today and the nation is grateful for his courage, valor, and honor. In fact, in 1985, he was officially declared the state hero of Connecticut.
“I only regret that I have but one life to give my country.” – Nathan Hale, attributed
“How beautiful is death, when earn’d by virtue!
Who would not be that youth? What pity is it
That we can die but once to serve our country.” – Joseph Addison, in Cato
“He behaved with great composure and resolution, saying he thought it the duty of every good Officer, to obey any orders given him by his Commander-in-Chief; and desired the Spectators to be at all times prepared to meet death in whatever shape it might appear.” – Frederick MacKensie, a British officer, wrote this diary entry for the day
“Hale is in the American pantheon not because of what he did but because of why he did it. Nathan Hale spied on the British because the general’s tent was right next to his schoolhouse. On his way back to the Continental Army, the British broke into his school house and attacked him.” – Richard Helms
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: Nathan Hale was considered a hero of his time, but there were no images left for future statue makers to use when erecting memorials to the young man. We do know from some letters left by others that he had blond hair, blue eyes, and was taller than average (at that time). He was thoughtful and intelligent and able to converse on many topics. Two famous statues have been created. One stands in New York City and one is located in front of Connecticut Hall where he lived when he attended Yale. One of his ancestors had been involved in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. His nephew, Edward Everett, was the “other” speaker at Gettysburg who was so impressed with Lincoln’s brief speech.
Also on this day: Manassa Mauler v. The Fighting Marine – In 1927, “The Long Count” fight takes place.
Tevye’s Family – In 1964, Fiddler on the Roof opened on Broadway.
Movies – In 1910, the Duke of York’s Picture House opened.
September 21, 1995: A miracle occurs. Ganesha is a Hindu god with a variety of names: Ganesa or Ganesh and also called Ganopati, Vinayaka, and Pillaiyar. Devotees include Hindis, Jains, and Buddhists. Ganesha sports an elephant head, making him extremely recognizable. He was one of the five principle deities of Smartism (from the 9th century). He is given the task of Remover of Obstacles. Due to the great admiration for the god, the title of Shri (a Hindu title of respect) is often placed before his name.
On this date, before dawn, a pilgrim in New Delhi, India approached a temple. A spoonful of milk was offered to Lord Ganesha and as the spoon was held to the trunk, the milk disappeared. Word of the miraculous occurrence quickly spread. Other devout Hindis brought milk to shrines and temples. By mid-morning it was noted that statues all across North India were greedily drinking milk. Not only statues of Ganesha, but the entire Hindu pantheon was thirsty.
By noon, worshipers in other countries were witnessing the same from their statues. Hindu temples in Britain, Canada, Dubai, Nepal, and others also contained thirsty gods. The World Hindu Council declared the day’s events a miracle. As believers flocked to temples, traffic was blocked, especially near major houses of worship in large cities. The sale of milk skyrocketed. One store in England sold over 25,000 pints of milk while in New Delhi sales jumped 30%.
Scientists from India’s Ministry of Science and Technology arrived at a New Delhi temple. They added food coloring to the milk. The milk’s movement was found to be a matter of surface tension and capillary action pulling the liquid up. The dry statue seemed to drink up the liquid, but then gravity worked and the area under the spoon was found to be stained by the dye. By noon, the statues were getting sated and the miracle ended before nightfall. Believers were unimpressed by the scientific explanation. A similar miracle took place in August of 2006. This time, the events were seen only in India.
“A fact never went into partnership with a miracle. Truth scorns the assistance of wonders. A fact will fit every other fact in the universe, and that is how you can tell whether it is or is not a fact. A lie will not fit anything except another lie.” – Robert Green Ingersoll
“As we become purer channels for God’s light, we develop an appetite for the sweetness that is possible in this world. A miracle worker is not geared toward fighting the world that is, but toward creating the world that could be.” – Marianne Williamson
“Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.” – Walt Whitman
“Everyday holds the possibility of a miracle.” – Elizabeth David
This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2009. Editor’s update: Hinduism is the dominant religion of the Indian subcontinent. There are four major branches or denominations of the religion: Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism, and Smartism. There are a variety of other traditions as well. There are traditions or philosophies regarding daily morality. These are based on dharma, karma, and the norms of the prevalent society. There is no single founder of the religion and roots stem from the historical Vedic religion of Iron Age India. Hinduism is often called the “oldest living religion” of the world. There are a number of religious texts which are classified into two types: Sruti or revealed and Smriti or remembered. There are about one billion followers today with about 950 million of them living in India.