A republic of laws, not men

My worthy colleague from Pennsylvania has spoken with great ingenuity and eloquence. He’s given you a grim prognostication of our national future, but where he foresees apocalypse I see hope. I see a new nation ready to take its place in the world. Not an empire, but a republic. And a republic of laws, not men. […] My belief says that the hour has come. My judgment approves this measure and my whole heart is in it. All that I have, all that I am and all that I hope in this life, I am now ready to stake upon it. While I’ll live, let me have a country. A free country.”



Repost: Apollo 13: Eyewitness to the Explosion

By Mike Klesius

Odyssey, You Have a Problem.”
If five men in Houston had realized what they were seeing through a telescope on the evening of April 13, 1970, they could have radioed those words to the crew of Apollo 13, who was still trying to grasp what had just happened: an oxygen tank on their spacecraft had exploded en route to the moon.George Wyckliffe Hoffler was at the time a young NASA flight surgeon assigned to study cardiovascular data gathered from the Apollo astronauts during their spaceflights. On the second night of the mission, Hoffler was taking a break from studying for his medical boards, and had joined four other NASA employees on the roof of building 16A at the Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center. There they watched a television monitor hooked up to a 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with a television camera mounted in place of the eyepiece. The monitor showed two dots flying in formation on their way to the moon: the brighter of the two was the spent third stage of the Saturn V launch vehicle; the dimmer one was the Apollo 13 spacecraft, which had separated from the third stage two days earlier.

The Apollo 13 spacecraft, as seen through the telescope, immediately after the oxygen tank blew. Credit: NASA

Every ten seconds the TV camera integrated, or updated, the image. “Between one ten-second integration and the next one,” says Hoffler, now retired in Titusville, Florida, “we can’t say exactly what second that was, the less bright dot was not a dot anymore. It was an expanded sphere, reflecting light. A disc. And I remember the guy who was in charge of the thing, Andy Saulietis,…he said, ‘What in the world is that?’ Every ten seconds it continued to grow a bit, and then started to fade as the gas dissipated into the vacuum of space. We watched it for two or three minutes I guess. In retrospect, none of us had the presence of mind to call next door to Mission Control and say, ‘Hey guys, you’ve got a problem.’ ”

What they were seeing was oxygen from the ruptured tank venting into space. In the vacuum, there was no atmospheric pressure to contain the expanding vapor. “We calculated the diameter of that reflecting sphere of gas surrounding the spacecraft to be approximately 25 miles. And it just blew out in just a few seconds,” says Hoffler. “It was under pressure, and when the cannister blew, the gas molecules jetted out with enormous velocity.” In this extended recording, astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise remain calm as they report various readings to mission control. Lovell finally looks out the window to say that he sees some sort of gas being vented into space.

Hoffler notes that the anniversary of Apollo 13, which launched on April 11, overlaps with the April 12 anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s flight as the first human in space in 1961, as well as the first flight of the space shuttle, launched on April 12, 1981. When offered the suggestion that April was a good month for human spaceflight, he says: “It was a bad month too.”

Read more: http://www.airspacemag.com/daily-planet/apollo-13-eyewitness-to-the-explosion-135059193/#ixzz2ynhDECBW

A tomb, a tomb, my kingdom for a tomb.

The saga or what to do with the remains of Richard III have taken yet another twist. Firstly was the granting of a judicial review into the final burial location of the king by a group called the Plantagenet alliance.
The Alliance are rivaling the Richard III society for “steady on a bit” around the King. They claim to be the “only ones who can speak for him¹” the reason for this claim is down to the fact they are non direct descendents of the King their membership which the BBC states is around a dozen or so think that because they’re related indirectly to Richard then this gives them the right to speak for him. However this standpoint is easily refuted by the annoying fact that non direct descendents of Richard quite possibly number the millions. What it has done though it throw all the preparation into chaos. While I don’t for a minute think they will get their wish to see Richard Buried in York which was allegedly his wish but i can’t abide by the argument that Leicester only want the remains for tourism.

This argument isn’t really that good, yes having the tomb would generate more tourism for the cathedral but Leicester already has an attachment to Richard, he spent his last night in the city and it was Leicester where his body was placed. There are already plans to create a museum to Richard and the task to find his remains and if he were in Leicester it would be free to see the tomb and not cost 10-15 pounds to see. It also flies against statements made by York Minster that they don’t want the remains and would rather see them in Leicester per the terms of the original exhumation license. Other arguments from the alliance aren’t worth mentioning more than once since they really are grasping at straws (for the record they’re here)

Now the design for the tomb has been unveiled this has added another layer of controversy on an already confusing story. The tomb is a large limestone block with the cross carved rather deep into it. The block is placed on the white rose of York and in the black border is Richard’s name, dates and motto. The head of the Richard III society has called it inspiring but Phillipa Langley has come out against it and announced £40,000 of funding from the society has been withdrawn. Which is odd since the Cathedral wasn’t asking for the money in the first place.

Langley has claimed it’s because the tomb is aimed at a Cathedral and not a Medieval warrior king. Which is correct since a tomb reminiscent of the period would look out of place in what is a Victorian Cathedral which looks more like a large parish church than a Cathedral.

In all this you can’t help but think those that want to do their best for Richard are infact doing the polar opposite. Let Richard rest in peace, and let the rest of us enjoy his legacy and learn more about him, without hysterics from more vested interests.


Happy Mandela day (and 95th)

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley

July 18, 1792: The US Navy loses a Father.

“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.”

On the third floor of  No. 19 Rue de Tournon, Paris, a body is found face down. That body is the mortal remains of John Paul Jones, a hero to some, a pirate to many.

Born in a small cottage on the South west coast of Scotland overlooking the Solway Firth on July 6, 1747 Jones began his career at sea joining trade and slave ships out of Whitehaven, Cumbria.

John Paul Jones

However John Paul Jones is more known for his actions during the revolutionary war. As Captain of the USS Ranger he was ordered to France carrying dispatches telling of General Burgoyne’s surrender to the commissioners in Paris. On the voyage over, two British prizes were captured. Ranger sailed from Brest 10 April 1778, for the Irish Sea and four days later captured a prize between the Scilly Isles and Cape Clear. On 17 April, she took another prize and sent her back to France.

On April 23, 1778, Jones and 30 of his crew landed at his old stomping ground of Whitehaven. As reported by the Lloyds evening post:

“Whitehaven, April 23.

LATE last night, or early this morning, a number of armed men (to the amount of
thirty) landed privately at this place, by two boats, from an American privateer, as
appears from one of the people now in custody. Whether he was left through
accident, or escaped by design, is yet uncertain.

Thus much has however been proved, that a little after three o’clock this morning he
rapped at several doors in Marlborough street, (adjoining one of the piers) and
informed them that fire had been [benn] let to one of the ships in the Harbour,
matches were laid in several others; the whole would be soon in a blaze, and the
town also destroyed; that he was one belonging to the privateer, but had escaped for
the purpose of saving, if possible, the town and shipping from destruction. The alarm
was immediately spread, and his account proved too true. The Thompson, Captain
Richard Johnson, a new vessel, and one of the finest ever built here, was in a flame.
It was low water, consequently all the shipping in the Port was in the most imminent
danger, and the vessel on which they had begun the diabolical work, lying close to
one of the steaths, there was the greatest reason to fear that the flames would, from
it, be communicated to the town. The scene was too horrible to admit of any further
description; we shall therefore only add to this part of this alarming story, that by an
uncommon exertion, the fire was extinguished before it reached the rigging of the
ship, and thus, in a providential manner, prevented all the dreadful consequences
which might have ensued.

The man who remained on shore was examined by the Magistrates, Merchants, &c.
about eight o’clock in the morning. The following is the purport of his affidavit:

“The Ranger privateer is commanded by John Paul Jones, fitted out at Piscataqua, in New-England, mounted by 18-six pounders, and 6 swivels, but is pierced for twenty guns. She has on board between 140 and 150 men; sailed from Piscataqua for Brest the 1st of November, 1777, arrived at Nantz the 2d of December [November]. Took in the passage two brigs, one commanded by Captain Richards, the other by Captain Goldfinch.

“Sailed from Nantz for Quiberon Bay; lay there about three weeks and returned to
Brest; left that Port about three weeks ago, in which time she has taken one ship
from London to Dublin, (having on board Gen. Irwin’s baggage) and sent her to Brest.
She also took and sunk a brig laden with flax-feed, a schooner with barley and oats,
and a sloop from Dublin to London, in ballast.

“On Sunday, or Monday night, from the intelligence she gained by a fishing boat, she
sailed into Belfast Lough, with an intent to attack an armed vessel, (the Drake sloop
of war) stood within half gun shot of her, hailed her, and then stood out again.”
David Freeman, the person who was examined and gave the above information,
says, that the name of the Commander of the Ranger is John Paul Jones, the First
Lieutenant Thomas Simpson, Second Lieutenant Elisha Hall, Sailing-Master David
Cullen, Lieutenant of Marines Samuel Willinsford.

The above John Paul Jones, alias John Paul, it further appears, served his
apprenticeship to the sea in a vessel called the Friendship, belonging to this port,
was afterwards in the employ of some Merchants here, latterly had a brig out of
Kircudbright, and is well known by many people in this town. David Freeman, it is
said, has also declared, that the said Paul Jones commanded the party which landed
here this morning, and was himself on shore.

While this infernal business was transacting, the ship laid to with her head to the
Northward, distant about two miles, until the boats put off to go on board, which was
between three and four o’clock. By this time some of the guns at the Half-moonbattery were loaded, two of which were fired at the boats, but without the desired
effect. The boats then fired their signal guns, and the ship immediately tacked and
stood towards them till they got along-side, and then made sail to the North

The Incendiaries had spiked most of the guns of both our batteries, several matches
were found on board different vessels, and other combustible matter in different parts
of the Harbour.

It appears that this infernal plan, unprecedented, except in the Annals of John the
Painter, was laid at Brest, where, for a considerable sum of money, Paul, or Jones,
(the latter is only an addition to his name,) engaged to burn the shipping, and town of
Whitehaven; for which purpose he was convoyed through the Channel by a French
frigate of 38 guns.

A number of Expresses have been dispatched to all the capital sea ports in the
kingdom where any depredations are likely to be made; all strangers in this town are,
by an order of the Magistrates, to be secured and examined: Similar notices have
been forwarded through the country, &c. and, in short, every caution taken that the
present alarming affair could suggest.

The privateer is the same ship which chased the Hussar cruizer last week, but the
cutter, or smack, did not belong to her.

They took three people away with them and staid some time in a public-house on the
Old Quay.

The Hussar, Capt. Gurley, and other vessels, are sent to different ports in Ireland
express with the news.

There has been almost a continual meeting at Haile’s Coffee-room to-day; a number
of men are raising for the defence of the town by subscription; and the forts, guns,
&c. it is expected, will now be put into proper condition

The effect was shocking to the people of Britain, who believed themselves safe, if this pirate can attack a port deep in the heart of the British Isles what could a large force do. Coastal defenses were improved and more men rushed to join the militias. Ships were dispatched to the Irish sea in an attempt to stop Jones. One of them was a 14 gun Brig, HMS Drake.

After an hours battle she too was captured by Jones who then sailed down the west coast of Ireland and returned to France with her prizes in tow on May 8.

Jones was then placed in command of the Bonhomme Richard and on August 14, as a vast French and Spanish invasion fleet approached England, he provided a diversion by heading for Ireland at the head a flotilla including the 36-gun Alliance, 32-gun Pallas, 12-gun Vengeance, and Le Cerf, and two privateers, Monsieur and Granville. 

Sailing up and over Scotland news of this force terrified the east coast of England On September 23, 1779, the squadron met a large merchant convoy off the coast of Flamborough Head, east Yorkshire. The 50-gun British frigate HMS Serapis and the 22-gun hired ship Countess of Scarborough.

The Serapis engaged the Bonhomme Richard, and soon afterwards, the Alliance fired, from a considerable distance, at the Countess. Quickly recognizing that he could not win a battle of big guns, and with the wind dying, Jones made every effort to lock Richard and Serapis together during a lull a taunt from one of the British sailors asking if he gave in prompted Jones to remark that “I have yet begun to fight.”

The fighting was fierce and both ships were badly damaged, the ensign on the Bonhomme Richard was shot away one of the officers of the Serapis asked if Jones had struck his colors, Jones remarked that “I may sink, but I’ll be damned if I strike.”

With his shipped locked in a deadly duel and the Alliance raking his ship with shot the captain of the Serapis Captain Pearson surrendered his ship to Jones. While the crew transferred over and following desperate attempts at repair the Bonhomme Richard was beyond repair and allowed to sink. Jones then sailed his battered fleet to the Netherlands.

Following the exploits in British waters Jones’ career began to falter, with commands and ships passing him by he entered the service of the Imperial Russian Navy, again he was passed over for commands, and political enemies plotted against him, inventing charges of “Sexual misconduct” which were disproved.

Leaving Russia a year after joining he offered his services to Sweden who eventually declined. Ending up in Paris he was given an assignment to secure the release of US captives held by the Dey of Algiers. However Jones died before carrying out this duty.

A small gathering of servants and Friends accompanied his body the 4 miles to  Saint Louis Cemetery Jones’s the body was preserved in alcohol and interred in a lead coffin “in the event that should the United States decide to claim his remains, they might more easily be identified.” where with the passage of time and the French revolution his final resting place was forgotten.

That isn’t the end of Jones’ story

In 1905 the by U.S. Ambassador to France Gen. Horace Porter, who had searched for 6 years for Jones’ remains exhumed a number of lead coffins. The preserved body was identified and an autopsy conducted. Brought back to America on the USS Brooklyn On April 24, 1906, Jones’s coffin was installed in Bancroft Hall at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, On January 26, 1913, the Captain’s remains were finally re-interred in a magnificent bronze and marble sarcophagus at the Naval Academy Chapel

“The future naval officers, who live within these walls, will find in the career of the man whose life we this day celebrate, not merely a subject for admiration and respect, but an object lesson to be taken into their innermost hearts. . . . Every officer . . . should feel in each fiber of his being an eager desire to emulate the energy, the professional capacity, the indomitable determination and dauntless scorn of death which marked John Paul Jones above all his fellows.”

US President Theodore Roosevelt, in an address to The US Naval Academy, Annapolis (24 April 1906).

http://www.kirkbeanheritagesociety.org.uk/                                                                 Account of the Whitehaven Raid http://www.jpj.demon.co.uk/whitehaven.pdf

On this day: July 6 Thomas More is executed.

July 6,1535. Tower Hill, London.

Following a complete breakdown in their relationship, and his refusal to take the Oath of Supremacy. Former Lord chancellor, scholar and humanist Sir Thomas More is beheaded upon Tower Hill, London.

A leading adviser to King Henry VIII More assumed the role of Lord Chancellor following the removal of Cardinal Wolsey, More dealt with the issues of state with speed and efficiency. He was also the main opponent of the reformation seeing the works of Luther and Tyndal as heresy and authorizing the burning of many heretics. He also guided Henry VIII in the authoring of ‘Assertio’ to which the Pope granted Henry the title of Defender of the Faith.

As the conflict over supremacy between the Papacy and the King reached its height, More continued to remain unmoved in supporting the supremacy of the Pope over that of the Henry. In 1530, More refused to sign a letter by the leading English churchmen and aristocrats asking Pope Clement VII to annul Henry’s marriage to Catherine, and also quarreled with Henry VIII over the heresy laws. In 1532, More asked Henry to accept his resignation, which he did.

On 13 April 1534, More was asked to appear before a commission and swear his allegiance to the parliamentary Act of Succession. More accepted Parliament’s right to declare Anne Boleyn the legitimate Queen of England, using the precedent of “qui tacet consentire videtur” (who (is) silent is seen to consent.)

Unfortunately for More the Panel was stacked heavily in the Kings favor with both Anne Boleyn’s Father and Brother on the panel the jury took only 15 minutes to find More guilty of Treason, the punishment was to be hanged drawn and quartered, although Henry commuted it to beheading.

The execution took place on 6 July 1535. When he came to mount the steps to the scaffold, he is widely quoted as saying: “I pray you, I pray you, Mr Lieutenant, see me safe up and for my coming down, I can shift for myself”; while on the scaffold he declared that he died “the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

More’s body was buried in an unmarked grave in St Peter ad Vincula within the Tower precinct and his head affixed upon a pike over Tower bridge. The head was later rescued by his daughter Margaret and is said to rest in the Roper Family Vault in St. Dunstan’s Canterbury.

Sir Thomas More, by Hans Holbein the younger

On this day July 4: Thomas Jefferson survives

July 4 1826, USA.

On the 50th anniversary of the declaration of independence, the two key figures of the declaration lie on their deathbeds.
John Adams, the second President of the United States and Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the declaration. Although their friendship soured to the point they were bitter rivals, they rekindled their friendship in 1812 and their letters survive as an important collection in American history.

Jefferson had been ill for around a year and during the last hours of Jefferson’s life he was accompanied by family members and friends. He calmly gave directions for his funeral, forbidding any sort of celebration or parade. Moments later Jefferson called the rest of his family and friends around his bedside and with a distinct tone he uttered:

I have done for my country, and for all mankind, all that I could do,
and I now resign my soul, without fear, to my God, – my daughter to my country.

After falling back to sleep Jefferson later awoke at eight o’clock that evening and spoke his last words, “Is it the fourth yet?“. His doctor replied, ”It soon will be“. On July 4 at ten minutes before one o’clock Jefferson died at the age of 83

Adams died at his home in Quincy. Told that it was the Fourth, he answered clearly, “It is a great day. It is a good day.” His last words have been reported as “Thomas Jefferson survives” although he died earlier in the day.

John Adams
Thomas Jefferson

John Adams (October 30 1735 – July 4, 1826)
Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743  – July 4, 1826)

On this day: July 2 1863

July 2 1863, Gettysburg Pennsylvania.
Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade’s Army of the Potomac positioned around the village of Gettysburg comes under assault from the Confederate army under the command of Robert E. Lee during the second day of battle.

The Unions extreme left flank consisting of the 358 men of the 20th Maine regiment and the 83rd Pennsylvania stretched to the point they are in single file comes under attack by Brig. Gen. Evander Law’s Alabama Brigade. Defending against 2 charges over 90 minutes and with very little ammunition left and with the knowledge that another charge could not be repelled the commander of the 20th, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain orders his left flank to swing around and when in line with the rest of his men orders a full charge against the 15th Alabama regiment. Breaking the line and helping to secure the hill.

Gettysburg raged for another day culminating in “Picketts charge” Although it was not enough to force the Union army off the field and Lee, without a large portion of his forces was forced to retreat.

Joshua Chamberlain
Flag of the 20th Maine volunteer regiment
Veterans of the 20th Maine at Little round top Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 1889

How to Capture an FW190

June 23, 1942. Oberleutnant Armin Faber of the III fighter Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 2 received special permission to fly a combat sortie. His aircraft was the new FW 190 A-3 just introduced to front line squadrons.

While intercepting a flight of bombers returning to the UK he got into a dogfight with the escorting spitfires over South Devon. Following a number of turns he managed to shoot down his attacker Sergeant František Trejtnar of No. 310 Squadron ( who survived.) However Faber was confused after the fight and mistook the Bristol channel for the English Channel and flew north. Mistaking RAF Pembrey for a German Airfield he waggled his wings in victory then made a textbook landing.

The on duty Air traffic controller Sergeant Jeffreys grabbed a flare gun and jumped onto the taxiing aircraft wing and captured the pilot.

Faber spent time in a POW camp in England before moving to Canada, while there he convinced the authorities he was epileptic, the authorities believing this repatriated him to Germany, where he ended up serving on front line fighter units.

Michael Gove:- Looking for an old England.

I will admit right off the bat I’m not a fan of Michael Gove, before we even get to how wrong his latest hissy fit was we need to really look at him. Since the Toryeducation twitter profile went offline, no doubt because of the truth rumours that it was run by one of his closest advisors to smear critics, it’s not completely safe.

Go ahead, gaze on Ozymandias’ works, and despair. For he has sapped morale in teachers to a level Alan Pardew would be envious of while maintaining an aura of “self serving smug prick”

And on the pedestal these words were written. “Teachers know nothing”

He’s provoked the ire of historians and academics for his narrative history of how great britain is. Soon kids will be able to tell you what year the glorious revolution was, but nothing much about why it happened or its effects. For Gove it seems, being able to recite a date and a few facts is enough to get by in life. Who needs the ability to look at all the sources and come to their own conclusion.

In many ways he is straight out of an Edwardian book for boys. His idea of education comes from those long summer days before the war when the Empire and King and Country were important. His latest speech however is just nauseating. From the complete lies about History pupils being told to sort the leaders of the Nazi party into Mr Men and how children shouldn’t read Twilight or play Angry birds but should be reading Middlemarch and coding.

He bemoans the fact that “an inspector calls” is still the most used play for drama pupils. Not because it’s dry, boring and tedious (it really is, my English Lit books prove it) but because it’s too ‘modern.’ He’d rather children tackle the romantic poets, learn the great history of the United Kingdom, from brave Boudicca to a prosperous Roman colony, a shining light of learning in a dark age to the “greatest Empire in the world, civilizing the noble savages of the dark continent and bringing democracy and industrialisation, commerce and christianity to the far flung parts of the world.

When you consider that Gove’s advisor for the history curriculum is none other than gaffe prone Niall Ferguson (another man transplanted from the 1900’s) it’s no surprise the Mau Mau and other dark sides of the Empire are simply washed away.

What makes Gove more dangerous is his part about how Children are taught History.

““The following steps are a useful framework: Brainstorm the key people involved (Hitler, Hindenburg, Goering, Van der Lubbe, Rohm…). Discuss their personalities / actions in relation to the topic. Bring up a picture of the Mr Men characters on the board. Discuss which characters are the best match.””

Gove is using this to attack modern teaching methods and then remarks
“I am familiar with the superb historical account Richard J Evans gives of the rise, rule and ruin of the Third Reich and I cannot believe he could possibly be happy with reducing the history of Germany’s darkest years to a falling out between Mr Tickle and Mr Topsy-Turvy.”

Except whoever discovered that omitted a few key parts. While it is a lesson plan it’s not used in state schools, it’s for the iGCSE which is based on the O-Level, an exam Gove is desperate to bring back. Not only that but it’s for 15-16 year olds to teach Nazism to children in years 3 and 4, in other words 8-9 year olds, who I suspect may struggle with Weimar Germany, reparations, re-armament and enabling acts.

When I was at school we’d sit in the room, listen for half an hour as the teacher gave us the bare bones of a particular topic then we’d read a rather poorly written text book (and in later years I discovered, completely wrong) and answer the tasks. And that was it, no fancy “Imagine you’re hitler” or reading all of Gibbon’s ‘The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,’ and yet I’m still madly in love with the subject. I read books like a hungry man eats pie and not only that, I play Angry Birds, read Tom Clancy and not only that…..

I don’t need to lie, distort or set up a twitter account to defend myself.