Patriots’ Day

I watched the movie the other day. It made me realize that I know next to nothing about what the title is referencing. The synopsis I read about the movie made clear it was about the Boston Marathon Bombing, so it made it seem that the movie was about the heroic efforts of the Boston police to track down the bombers. After watching the movie, I still had no idea about the title of the movie.

So, I did some Googling.

Apparently Massachusetts, Maine, Wisconsin, and some other states honor the first battles of the American Revolution with Patriots’ Day. The battles took place on April 19th. For a few decades the third Monday in April is the day used for the state holidays. The Boston Marathon is run on Patriots’ Day. Thus the title of the movie.

Here in Georgia there is some hurt feelings over the governor dishonoring Confederate Memorial Day by changing it to:

Monday, April 24 — State Holiday (originally on April 26)

There was a bill on the agenda seeking to make April called Confederate Memorial Month and to officially re-instate the holiday. It looks like it never received a floor vote.

If the state wants an April holiday, then maybe Patriots’ Day fits the bill? It honors American valor and values. Georgia was one of the original colonies unlike Wisconsin.

Independence

Thinking about independence since it is the Fourth of July.

Over the centuries it is amusing how close the United States has become with the United Kingdom (descendant of Great Britain). So much so that both the President of the United States and a candidate for the job both travel to the UK and talk about how the people should vote or have voted. People talk about what the Founding Fathers thought. Well, I wonder what they would have thought about the chumminess of the US and the UK, their enemy. But, the UK was also their parent in a way.

Teenagers need to learn to separate from the parent. To do things on their own. To be responsible for their own actions. While under the protection of the parent that is more difficult. So independence was good for us and ultimately probably good for the UK too.

Some American values, manners, and customs originate from the UK. In some cases they have moved on where we still adhere strongly to things as they were. In some cases we replaced them with other European, African, or Asian customs where Britain still adheres strongly to the things. Life in America necessitated a social evolution of sorts. No so much Social Darwinism, but in the early colonial period and westward expansion, the people who clung too strongly to how they grew up and failed to adapt to the new life often failed. Having the independence to adapt was good for their survival.

Yet, given the closeness of the US and UK and as Americans pine over the UK princes, one’s wife, and children, an interesting thought experiment is re-unification. The idea is not unprecedented. In 1707 and 1800, London’s parliament agreed to an Act of Union first with Scotland and then with Ireland to establish their representation in the national government. Given these occurred both before and after the colonial independence, it seems like this is a route which could have been taken. That both Scotland and Ireland had parliaments probably aided the unions. Melding the US government with the UK would be much more difficult.

Pneumatic tubes

According to Dan Pink, John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. predicted several things:

Among his calls: Americans will be taller. (True) There will be no C, X, or Q in the alphabet. (False) Photographs will be telegraphed from large distances. (True) Rats and mice will be gone. (False). Pneumatic tubes, instead of store wagons, will deliver packages and bundles. (False, but Amazon is working on it.)

The pneumatic tube one was interesting. Packages and bundles would have included memos, correspondence, and perhaps even books or games. The Internet was so “eloquently” described by Senator Ted Stevens, “The Internet is not something you just dump something on. It is not a truck. It is a series of tubes.” Most memos, and correspondence these days is carried over the Internet. Books are getting there. So maybe this should be a partial?

Am I too generous?

Odyssey Dawn?

One interpretation of Operation Odyssey Dawn is a ten year struggle to get home. Instead of ten years, I think it refers to a single day.

The Odyssey is a Greek epic poem by Homer describing the ten year adventure of the craftiest Greek general attempting to return home from the Trojan War. Odysseus wandered the Adriatic Sea and Mediterranean Sea for ten years. One place he briefly stayed was Libya:

Across the fishy deep for nine whole days,
On the tenth day we reached the land where dwell
The Lotus-eaters, men whose food is flowers.
We landed on the mainland, and our crews
Near the fleet galleys took their evening meal.
And when we all had eaten and had drunk
I sent explorers forth — two chosen men,
A herald was the third — to learn what race
Of mortals nourished by the fruits of earth
Possessed the land. They went and found themselves
Among the Lotus-eaters soon, who used
No violence against their lives, but gave
Into their hands the lotus plant to taste.
Whoever tasted once of that sweet food
Wished not to see his native country more,
Nor give his friends the knowledge of his fate.
And then my messengers desired to dwell
Among the Lotus-eaters, and to feed
Upon the lotus, never to return.
By force I led them weeping to the fleet,
And bound them in the hollow ships beneath
The benches. Then I ordered all the rest
Of my beloved comrades to embark
In haste, lest, tasting of the lotus, they
Should think no more of home. All straightway went
On board, and on the benches took their place,
And smote the hoary ocean with their oars.

Odysseus’ men consumed the lotus narcotic and would have stayed forever. Only by quickly extricating themselves before more men consumed it, aka cut their losses, could they return home. Maybe that is the intent for the operation name. Do what they need to do quickly and get out before they get mired in yet another quagmire. Of course, that was the intent of Afghanistan and Iraq.

As a child reading the Odyssey for the first time, I thought better to under the influence of the lotus than Circe. Dunno that is still the case.

Deciding the Fate of North America

The French and Indian: War Deciding the Fate of North America

In high school and college the French and Indian War was this long amorphous event in between settling the colonies and the American Revolution. It took a movie, The Patriot (not even in my top 500 movies), to give some color to the story in colonists fought in that war, found it brutal, and took tactics learned there into the fight against the British. In [book:His Excellency: George Washington|6462] this was confirmed as many of Washington’s officers earned their British commissions by fighting in this war.

The American Revolution owes much to this war. These points are all my own combining information from several books I’ve recently read.

  1. The colonists agreed to fight in this war in order to secure lands on which to settle west of the Appalachian mountains. So to set the lands aside as Indian territory (the same tribes who killed so many colonists) angered the colonists. Then to reset the lands aside for British lords was even worse.
  2. Allowing the colonists to fight trained thousands of soldiers who went unpaid for months (the regular soldiers were paid) and fractions of what was promised. The worst people to anger are the ones you have armed.
  3. England increased taxes to improve the coffers after nearly bankrupting the country to fight the French and Indian War. The taxes which the Boston Tea Party was to protest.
  4. The French lost most of their navy in fighting the French and Indian War. By the time of the American Revolution, the French navy was somewhat recovered. To throw it at an internal British conflict would have been reckless. So the French delayed supporting us until they had an idea we might actually be able to win.

Not too dry. Brings up too much rumor and legend. I got what I wanted, clearer idea of the missing decades prior to the American Revolution.

P.S. I liked the British strategy of choking the supply lines and seizing production. This is my usual approach to war games. Maybe I would be speaking British today if William Pitt had remained in power through the American Revolution?

Bicentennial for the Abolition of Slave Trade to US Tomorrow

An Even Better Reason to Celebrate has a nice longer version of this quote from a NYT OpEd piece on tomorrow being the bicentennial for the ablution of slave trade to the United States.

WE Americans live in a society awash in historical celebrations. The last few years have witnessed commemorations of the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase (2003) and the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II (2005). Looming on the horizon are the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth (2009) and the sesquicentennial of the outbreak of the Civil War (2011). But one significant milestone has gone strangely unnoticed: the 200th anniversary of Jan. 1, 1808, when the importation of slaves into the United States was prohibited. Forgotten Step Toward Freedom – New York Times

Please read this article. It mentions the British celebrated their abolition of slave trade last year. Also, the lack of celebration may be due to the distinction here in the US between the end of importing of slaves vs the end of slavery. I found it a fascinating and well written article. Eric Foner has a several books on United States history between the American Revolution and the Civil War. I’ll have to pick up some of them? I’m already 83 books behind reading everything I own.

Bicentennial for the Abolition of Slave Trade to US Tomorrow

An Even Better Reason to Celebrate has a nice longer version of this quote from a NYT OpEd piece on tomorrow being the bicentennial for the abolution of slave trade to the United States.

WE Americans live in a society awash in historical celebrations. The last few years have witnessed commemorations of the bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase (2003) and the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II (2005). Looming on the horizon are the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth (2009) and the sesquicentennial of the outbreak of the Civil War (2011). But one significant milestone has gone strangely unnoticed: the 200th anniversary of Jan. 1, 1808, when the importation of slaves into the United States was prohibited. Forgotten Step Toward Freedom – New York Times

Please read this article. It mentions the British celebrated their abolition of slave trade last year. Also, the lack of celebration may be due to the distinction here in the US between the end of importing of slaves vs the end of slavery. I found it a fascinating and well written article. Eric Fromer has a several books on United States history between the American Revolution and the Civil War. I’ll have to pick up some of them? I’m already 83 books behind reading everything I own.

Search for Ithaca

A geological engineering company said Monday it has agreed to help in an archaeological project to find the island of Ithaca, homeland of Homer’s legendary hero Odysseus.

It has long been thought that the island of Ithaki in the Ionian Sea was the island Homer used as a setting for the epic poem “The Odyssey,” in which the king Odysseus makes a perilous 10-year journey home from the Trojan War.

But amateur British archaeologist Robert Bittlestone believes the Ithaca of Homer is no longer a separate island but became attached to the island of Kefallonia through rock displacement caused by earthquakes. The theory could explain inconsistencies between Ithaki and Homer’s description of Odysseus’ island.

“Because no one has ever been able to find Ithaca, people felt the Odyssey was like a Lord of the Rings story,” Bittlestone said in an interview. “This would say Ithaca was a real place — it doesn’t say Odysseus was a real person, that’s another jump.”
Engineers to Search for Homer’s Ithaca

The Odyssey is my favorite story going back to middle school. I am hopeful they find it. It will give me another place to visit whenever before I die I make it to Greece. 😉

Is America Repeating Roman History?

This article about the novel Imperium (a fictional biography) suggests there are parallels between Rome’s transition from a Republic to an Empire and where we stand in America. If true, then we are right now on the cusp of a great turning point. Imperium is historical fiction. So how much of it is not real?

Rome Returns – Newsweek: International Editions – MSNBC.com:

When a band of pirates ravaged the Roman port of Ostia in 67 B.C., the Roman general Pompey the Great was granted extraordinary powers to manage the crisis. Despite vehement opposition from the aristocracy, who suspected his motives, Pompey was handed absolute control of the sea and the coast for 50 miles inland. “The pirates’ raid on Ostia was a kind of 9/11,” says author Robert Harris, whose new novel “Imperium” (416 pages. Hutchinson) is climbing Britain’s best-seller list. “A precedent was set of special military commands and the suspension of liberties, which was applied first to Pompey, then Caesar, then the whole constitution. You can make a strong case that was beginning of the end of the Republic.”

I’ve already ordered it. It sounds like a good read. 🙂

Homer a Pseudonym for a Woman?

I have always considered the Illiad or the Odyssey to be among the best of love stories. True, there is lots of violence. True, the characters are mostly men. Love is the motivation and driving force behind the heros and why each is able to overcome and win.

If they were written by women, then that will not change my opinion about them being my favorites.

Discovery Channel :: News – History :: Scholar: Iliad, Odyssey Penned by Woman:

The author of the Greek epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey was probably a woman, according to an upcoming book by a British historian and linguist.

Andrew Dalby, author of Rediscovering Homer, argues that the attribution of the poems to Homer was founded on a falsehood.

Homer’s link to the poems, Dalby writes, stems from an “ill-informed postclassical text, the anonymous Life of Homer, fraudulently ascribed to Herodotus,” a respected Greek historian who lived from around 484-425 B.C.

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