May 07 2010
On this day in 1824, the world premiere of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Vienna, Austria. The performance is conducted by Michael Umlauf under the deaf composer’s supervision. It was Beethoven’s first appearance on stage in 12 years. Over the years the symphony has been performed for both political and non-political from the eve of Hitler’s birthday, to the celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. The Ode to Joy was used as the anthem by Kosovo when it declared it’s independence in 2008.
May 06 2010
This morning Glen Greenwald posed this hypothetical question regarding the outrage over Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s citizenship stripping bill and President Barak Obama’s assassination policy:
Outrage over Lieberman’s citizen-stripping bill is odd in light of Obama’s assassination program: which would you rather have done to you?
Hopefully, Lieberman’s bill stands no chance getting even to the Senate floor but President Obama’s assassination policy is already in place.
Do either of these men, who have sworn to uphold the law and protect the Constitution, believe in its core principles?
May 06 2010
On this day in 1889, The Eiffel Tower is officially opened to the public at the Universal Exposition in Paris. The tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution. It is the tallest structure in Paris at 1,063 ft. and the most visited paid monument in the world. It is locate in the 7th arrondissement on the Champs de mars next to the Seine.
The tower was not without its controversy, a letter of 300 names, including those of Maupassant, Emile Zola, Charles Garnier (architect of the Opéra Garnier), and Dumas the Younger, protested its construction, calling it an “eye sore”. Eiffel had a 20 year permit for the Tower with dismantling schedules for 1909. The Tower reverted to the City of Paris and was decided that because of its value for radio communications it would remain. During World War 1 the Tower became crucial for communications and played a roll in the capture of the infamous spy Mata Hari.
The Eiffel Tower remains today as the symbol of Paris, the City of Light. It is one of the primary tourist attractions of the city. There are stairs and lifts to the upper levels and observation decks and two restaurants. Recently an ice skating rink opens on the first floor in the winter and in the summer at the street level a swimming pool.
May 05 2010
Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s independence day, that’s September 16. It isn’t even a federal holiday in Mexico and is only celebrated regionally in Puebla. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the victory of the Mexican army over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. In 1861, Benito Juarez stopped making interest payments on money it owed and was attacked by France. The battle really only slowed the French down and they continued to march towards Mexico City. One year later, Mexico was occupied by France and installed Maximilion I as Emperor. 5 years after the battle of Puebla, Juarez overthrew Maximilion and executed him.
The reasons that this battle is significant is first 4,000 Mexican soldiers, who were greatly outnumbered defeated the well-equipped French army of 8,000 that had not been defeated for almost 50 years. Second, since the battle of Puebla, no country in the Americas has been invaded by an army from another continent.
It is a celebration of Mexican pride and heritage. Although mostly ignored by Mexico, Cinco de Mayo has been celebrated continuously in California since 1863. Other places outside the US and Mexico that celebrate are in Vancouver, Canada where there is a sky diving event. In the Cayman Islands there is an air guitar festival and in Malta, every one is encouraged to drink Mexican beer.
May 04 2010
On this day in 1970, At Kent State University, 100 National Guardsmen fire their rifles into a group of students, killing four and wounding 11. This incident occurred in the aftermath of President Richard Nixon’s April 30 announcement that U.S. and South Vietnamese forces had been ordered to execute an “incursion” into Cambodia to destroy North Vietnamese bases there. In protest, a wave of demonstrations and disturbances erupted on college campuses across the country.
There were no warnings when the Guardsmen opened fire. 60 rounds were fire into the crowd of demonstrators. After an investigation, all the charges were dropped against the National Guard in 1974.
May 03 2010
On this day in 1919, Pete Seeger, folk singer, activist, environmentalist was born in NYC.
On July 26, 1956, the House of Representatives voted 373 to 9 to cite Pete Seeger and seven others (including playwright Arthur Miller) for contempt, as they failed to cooperate with House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in their attempts to investigate alleged subversives and communists. Pete Seeger testified before the HUAC in 1955.
In one of Pete’s darkest moments, when his personal freedom, his career, and his safety were in jeopardy, a flash of inspiration ignited this song. The song was stirred by a passage from Mikhail Sholokhov’s novel “And Quie Flows the Don”. Around the world the song traveled and in 1962 at a UNICEF concert in Germany, Marlene Dietrich, Academy Award-nominated German-born American actress, first performed the song in French, as “Qui peut dire ou vont les fleurs?” Shortly after she sang it in German. The song’s impact in Germany just after WWII was shattering. It’s universal message, “let there be peace in the world” did not get lost in its translation. To the contrary, the combination of the language, the setting, and the great lyrics has had a profound effect on people all around the world. May it have the same effect today and bring renewed awareness to all that hear it.
June 19 & 20
Croton Point Park
May 02 2010
On this day in 1933, Loch Ness Monster sighted Although legend of a monster living in the Loch Ness had existed for over 1500 years, the earliest account from 500 A.D., it was a news report in the Inverness Courier that sparked the modern day legend. The Loch is the largest body of fresh water in Great Britain that has a depth of 800 ft and is 23 miles long. In 1933, a new road had been built around the lake with great views. The story of a couple who had observed “an enormous animal rolling and plunging on the surface”, that was fueled by the Courier using the word “monster” and a reward of 20,000 pound sterling, sparked a media darling. In 1934, a photograph of a creature with a long neck surfaced, again, increasing speculation that this creature was a survivor of long extinct aquatic plesiosaurs. The photo was revealed to be a hoax in 1994.
Since then there have been both amateur and professional sightings and studies. The have been inconclusive yet tantalizing reports of large unidentifiable objects moving on the bottom of the lake. Using sonar and photography in 19, the Boston’s Academy of Applied Science produced a photo that ‘appeared to show the giant flipper of a plesiosaur-like creature”.
May 01 2010
Welcome to this week’s Health and Fitness. This is an Open Thread.
Charlize Theron: She could be your mother, your sister, your daughter.
Maj. Gen. Patrick Cammaert: It is perhaps more dangerous to be a woman than a soldier in armed conflict.
Nicole Kidman: Those responsible for sexual violence must be held accountable.
Leymah Gbowee: Wars and being fought on the bodies of women and children.
Dr. Denis Mukwege: Sexual violence is the monstrosity of our century
Theron: Go to stoprapenow.org to learn more and to take action
Learn More go to Stop Rape Now.org
As is now custom, I’ll try to include the more interesting and pertinent articles that will help the community awareness of their health and bodies. This essay will not be posted anywhere else due to constraints on my time. Please feel free to make suggestions for improvement and ask questions, I’ll answer as best I can.