Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Sunday, January 29, 2017

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.
Did You Know ... that legendary soul/R&B singer Marvin Gaye spent his late teen years living in the East Capital Dwellings public housing project in the Capitol View neighborhood of Washington, D.C.?

The process for doing so is laid out simply in the Constitution, if anyone bothers to read it.

  1. Someone in the House must introduce a bill of impeachment, laying out the crimes and misdemeanors the President is guilty of.
  2. The bill will be referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary, where a majority of the committee (in this case, staffed at a 3-to-2 ratio by Republicans) must approve of the bill. This means the chairman of the committee must approve of holding hearings, hearings must be held, and the bill marked up (e.g., changes made). Then a vote is held.
  3. The bill then goes to the House Rules Committee, which assigns it to a "calendar" for legislation action. The Rule Committee chairman must approve of holding hearings, hearings must be held, and the rules for debate, amendments, and other aspects of the legislative process approved. These rules must win a majority.
  4. The bill then waits on the calendar for its turn to come up. Debate and amenments and votes are held under the rule approved by the Rules Committee.
  5. The House may bypass the Judiciary and Rules committees if a majority of House members sign a petition asking for the bill to be discharged to the floor.
  6. The House will sit as a Committee of the Whole, taking testimony from witnesses and receiving documentary evidence. A simple majority is required to send the bill of impeachment to the full House.
  7. The House, sitting as the House, will then vote to impeach. A simple majority is needed to impeach.
  8. The Senate is then required to hold a trial, presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Senate rules of procedure govern the timing of the trial, its conduct, the number of witnesses allowed, and the amount of debate permitted.
  9. A two-thirds vote (67) of all sitting Senators is required for impeachment.

But it's almost impossible to get the party of the President to impeach him, even when there is outstanding evidence.

Let's look at Watergate, shall we?

When Richard Nixon was impeached by the House for undermining democracy, illegal wiretapping, conspiracy, breaking-and-entereing, destruction of documents, cover-up, bribery, obstruction of justice, and various misdemeanors.... Republicans in the House could barely bring themselves to do it.

Democrats were in overwhelming control of the House. 19 resolutions had been offered (all by Democrats) asking the Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on whether grounds existed to impeach the President; three resolutions had been introduced censuring the President; and three resolutions had been introduced to "investigate the official conduct of the President". On top of this, there were 20 bills of impeachment which had been offered. Half of them came from three Californians (mostly from Jerome Waldie and Bob Leggett). Seven more came from liberal eastern states (New York [3], New Jersey [2], and Maryland [2]). All came from Democrats, none from Republicans.

The House Judiciary Committee investigated Watergate for 18 months without considering a single bill of impeachment -- although more than 20 had been filed. It took the "Saturday Night Massacre" (in which Nixon fired Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, Attorney General Elliot Richardson, and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus) to get the Judiciary Committee to begin taking up these bills of impeachment. No Republican voted to allow the committee to do so; these were straight 21-to-17 party line votes.

Judiciary Committee chairman Peter Rodino was so worried about the partisan look of things, he asked the entire House for authority to hold hearings on impeachment. Minority Leader John Rhodes (R-Ariz.) broke on February 2, and endorsed the resolution. On Febraury 6, the House voted 410-4 to give Rodino's committee the explicit power to hold impeachment hearings.

The vote was seen as political cover for Republicans. Six special elections had been held to fill seats in the House where members had died or resigned. Five safe GOP seats went Democratic. No one believed that there were more than 100 votes in the House for impeachment, and impeachment required 218.

On March 1, a grand jury sitting in the District of Columbia named Nixon an unindicted co-conspirator in the Watergate scandal.

Since July 16, Democrats and prosecutors had been struggling to get hold of the Nixon tapes. The Judiciary Committee finally voted 33-to-3 on April 11, 1974, to subpoena them. Voting against were ranking minority member Edward Hutchinson (R-Mich.), Trent Lott (R-Miss.), and Charles Wiggins (R-Calif.) (Republicans Charles Sandman [R-N.J.] and Harold Froelich [R-Wisc.] did not attend the meeting and so did not vote.) Once more, the vote was political cover: The Democrats were united and controlled a majority on the committee. They'd come to the hearing with a subpoena already drafted. The GOP could either go along, or not. Electoral safety dictated going along. Republicans offered several amendments in committee, some of which asked Nixon to voluntarily turn over the tapes, some of which asked Nixon only for transcripts, and so on. All were defeated by an almost-party line vote of 24-to-12 (only three Republicans voting against them).

Nixon provided only edited transcripts, which the Judiciary Committee rejected. Impeachment hearings opened on May 9.

Committee votes on the actual articles of impeachment occurred July 27-30. They passed on almost strict party lines: Article 1 (obstruction of justice), 27–11; Article 2 (abuse of power), 28–10; Article 3 (contempt of Congress), 21–17 (two Democrats voted no). Article 4 (Cambodia bombing) failed 12–26, and Article 5 (failure to pay taxes) failed 12–26.

On July 24, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously Nixon must release the actual tapes, not just edited transcripts. On August 5, 1974, the White House released a previously unknown audio tape from June 23, 1972. Recorded only a few days after the break-in, it revealed Nixon not only knew in advance about plans for a break-in, but collaborated actively in the cover-up, working to block the law enforcement investigation and bribe the burglars to keep their mouths shut. The "smoking gun tape" destroyed Nixon politically. The 10 Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee who had overwhelmingly supported Nixon now announced they would all support the obstruction of justice article.

On the night of August 7, 1974, Sens. Barry Goldwater and Hugh Scott and Rep. John Rhodes met secretly with Nixon and told him that his support in Congress had all but disappeared. Support for impeachment in the House was way over the 218 needed, and no more than 15 senators would support him (he needed 34).

With impeachment all but certain, Nixon resigned on the night of August 8, 1974.

Normally, hairy men don't arouse me.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

This past week, the Trump people began passing around a list of $137.5 billion in infrastructure improvements they want to see made in the next four years.

The Trump administration has said that the following projects will received "urgent" funding from the federal government. However, the administration wants private enterprise to kick in half the cost. Just how that would happen is unclear. While shipping companies use the Port of New York-New Jersey and might be blackmailed into contributing to its reconstruction, just who would pay for the near-collapsing Arlington Memorial Bridge?

Moreover, look at how many projects are in Ohio (3) and Texas (3). Three of these are power transmission lines and one a water plant (Huntington Beach desalinization plant) which benefit private individuals, and which the free market has refused to finance. Five (Sea-Tac Airport, Kansas City Airport, St. Louis Airport, Chicago's Union Station, Port of Newark) are projects which the free market and local citizens have refused to finance. One of these (the National Research Lab for Infrastructure) competes with existing engineering schools and sucks up money which could have gone to existing scholars. Three of these (Howard Street Tunnel, Burnham Place, the Purple Line) are already being funded by the private sector or Obama administration; Trump is just claiming them as "wins" even though he did nothing to support them.

The projects include:

  1. Rebuilding of all critical, high-risk rail infrastructure between Newark, N.J., and New York City.
  2. I-75 Brent Spence Bridge - rebuilding this critical, near-collapse bridge connecting Cincinnati, Ohio, and northern Kentucky.
  3. National Research Lab for Infrastructure - a new facility, built in Columbus, Ohio, and jointly run by Ohio State University and the Battelle Memorial Institute.
  4. Rebuilidng all 15 of the I-95 bridges in Philadelphia.
  5. Plains Transmission Line - construction of an electrical transmission line from Oklahoma to Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and five other southern states (ostensibly to give Oklahoma wind farms access to markets).
  6. Texas Central Railway - construction of a new high-speed commuter line between Dallas and Ft. Worth.
  7. Cotton Belt Railway - constructin of a new high-speed commuter line between north Dallas and southwest Ft. Worth and the Ft. Worth airport.
  8. TransWest Express Transmission Line - oil billionaire Phillip Anschutz's company proposes this line to move wind power from Wyoming through Utah and Nevada to serve customers in southern California, New Mexico, and Arizona.
  9. Construction of phases 2 and 3 of the 2nd Avenue Subway in New York City.
  10. Champlain-Hudson Express Transmission Line - construction of an electrical transmission line to bring hydropower from Lake Champlain down to New York City along the Hudson River.
  11. Burnham Place at Union Station in Washington, D.C. - covering over the Amtrak lines, expanding the station, and building 10 or so residential, office, and retail buildings.
  12. Completion of the Purple Line, southern Maryland - links many Metro lines east-west.
  13. Kansas City Airport - major expansion.
  14. Renovation of the Peace Bridge between Buffalo, N.Y., and Canada.
  15. Green Line extension in Boston to Medford and Somerville.
  16. Augustin Plains Ranch, N.M. - massive underground water storage facility, with solar and hydro power stations.
  17. Port of Newark, N.J., container ship terminal expansion and upgrades.
  18. Howard Street Tunnel CSX/Amtrak expansion - upgrading a Baltimore rail tunnel to accommodate double-stacked trains, and adding another tunnel.
  19. Rebuilding North Red Line and Purple Line in Chicago, doubling capacity.
  20. I-95 and I-395 reconstruction near Miami.
  21. Expanding Chicago's Union Station.
  22. Expanding I-70 in Colorado in the Mountain Corridor.
  23. Widening I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock in Colorado.
  24. Building Poseidon Water Co.'s proposed desalinization plant in Huntington Beach, Calif.
  25. Tripling the capacity of the Emsworth, Dashields, and Montgomery Locks on the Upper Ohio River.
  26. Rebuilding portions of the Monongahela River Locks and Dams to permit flood control.
  27. Expansion of Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle.
  28. Fixing the near-collapsing Arlington Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C.
  29. Expansion of St. Louis Airport.
Like Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street, he'd better be careful with that bubble-gum.

Normally, a guy who strip-shaves his body does not arouse me.


Trump Wednesday declared a trade war with America's third-largest trading partner, Mexico. If you're in the automotive or automotive parts industry, buy a car, use electronics, buy gasoline, need to have a medical instrument used in your healthcare, or eat fresh fruit and vegetables -- count yourself among those fucked by this tax.

Remember: Mexican companies don't pay the tax. They pass it on to you, the consumer.

America exported goods worth $236 billion to Mexico and services worth $30.8 billion, and imported goods worth $295 billion and services worth $21.6 billion. 1.1 million Americans rely on exports to Mexico for their jobs. U.S.-owned affiliates have sales totaling $43.4 billion in Mexico, while Mexican-owned affiliates have sales in the U.S. of just $7.5 billion.

Top imports are vehicles ($74 billion), electrical machinery ($63 billion), machinery ($49 billion), petroleum ($14 billion, about 6.6 percent of all oil), optical and medical instruments ($12 billion), fresh vegetables ($4.8 billion), fresh fruit ($4.3 billion), wine and beer ($2.7 billion), and snack foods ($1.7 billion).

U.S. direct investment in Mexico is $107.8 billion, while Mexico has just $17.7 billion invested in the U.S.

* * * * * *

By unilaterally imposing a 20 percent import tax on Mexican goods and services, Trump would also be breaking the NAFTA treaty. What does this mean?

First, Mexico would no longer need to cooperate on migration. Currently, Mexico stops 90 percent of illegal immigrants at its border. It would not longer do so.

Second, Mexico would no longer need to cooperate on terrorism. By stopping most illegal immigrants at the border, and cooperating with the United States on stopping international terrorists from crossing into the U.S. via Mexico, Mexico is an integral part of the American security system. Mexico would no longer need to do that.

Third, Mexico would no longer need to cooperate on illegal narcotics, weapons, and cash. Currently, Mexico works very closely with the United States to stop all three. But Mexico would be under no compulsion to continue this cooperation.

Fourth, Mexico could appeal the imposition of the tariff to the World Trade Organization. The WTO rules would permit other nations, as well as Mexico to impose counter-tariffs, and could lead to fines for the United States.

Fifth, imposition of a tariff would eventually destroy the U.S. economy. As of last July, a dollar was worth about 15 pesos. With a 20 percent tariff, the Mexican peso would weaken even further -- perhaps as much as 40 to 50 pesos to the dollar. While this would cause capital flight from Mexico, it would also make Mexican goods 50 percent cheaper, allowing cheap Mexican goods to flood the U.S. market and preventing all those jobs Trump think he's saving. (This is classical economics, and is taught in every first-semester econ class.)

Finally: Trump risks harming Mexico to the point where the country's political stability buckles. Can you imagine a civil war, complete with millions of refugees, on our southern border? Or a country whose central government collapses, bringing anarchy and mass starvation and mass violence?

Thanks, Trump!
Northeast Ohio faces a projected shortage of 3,500 nurses by 2020. Nurse practitioners, medical assistants, and other healthcare "extenders" are also in short supply, as are entry-level positions (medical technicians, medical technologists, Licensed Practical Nurses, nursing aides, nursing assistants, home health aides, etc.) across the board.

The region's response? Hiking pay. Which means higher healthcare costs for consumers.

The cause? Nurses and others are retiring at high rates, due to age, injury, and burnout. Changes in the way healthcare is provided have shifted hundreds of nurses into "care management" positions, where they direct patients to the right caregiver rather than provide care themselves. And the percentage of NEO residents over age 65 is already higher than average, and getting much worse fast. Since older people consume 5 to 6 times the amount of healthcare as those under 65, this -- combined with the shorage -- is creating a healthcare crisis in Northeast Ohio.

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.
Did You Know ... that the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge near Denver was originally a chemical weapons manufacturing and testing range constructed in 1942 -- but with the arsenal not fit for human habitation, it was turned into a wildlife refuge in 1992?
"And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt." - Deuteronomy 10:19

"The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God." - Leviticus 19:34

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Always nice to come home to a puppy...

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.
Did You Know ... that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's Cross of Sacrifice was designed in 1918 by Sir Reginald Blomfield partly because the British people expected it, and partly as a way of winning Church of England support for the commission's work?
Eating fruit is healthy, you know...

TCM aired Cleopatra (1934) with Claudette Colbert and Henry Wilcoxon last night as part of their "Cleopatra" night.

Just so you know: Julius Caesar was murdered on March 15 at the Theater of Pompey. It was a sports and gladitorial arena, but also had a building at the rear which contained a steep amphitheater where the Senate often met. A gladitorial contest in Caesar's honor had been arranged, and Caesar himself asked that the Senate gather beforehand in the antechamber to the theater's main entrance for a brief meeting. As Caesar entered the chamber, one Senator detained Caesar's friend, Marc Antony, outside.

Every single one of the 60 Senators in the conspiracy agreed to stab Caesar, so that none of them could be blamed for the fatal wound. (In fact, he was stabbed just 23 times. Only one of the wounds was fatal.)

Caesar fell on the floor, dead. The Senators fled from the theater and headed for the Forum, where several of them tried to speak and win the crowd to their side. But the crowd silently dispersed. Citizens went inside and locked their doors, fearful of riots or a purge by the army. The conspirators then fled to the Capitoline, where they offered sacrifices and waited with their gladiators.

Caesar's body lay on the floor of the Senate for three hours. Finally, three of his slaves put his body on a litter, and carried the dead man back to his own house.

The next morning, the conspirators found themselves surrounded by the army, led by Caesar's close friend, Lepidus. With the public still not taking sides, Antony agreed to allow the conspirators to flee the city, and gave them his and Lepidus' eldest sons as hostages to guarantee their safety.

On March 17, the remainder of the Senate convened at the Temple of Tellus. The Senate granted a public funeral at the behest of Caesar's father-in-law, Piso. Caesar's will was read, in which his nephew Octavian was named his heir.

On March 20, the funeral was held at Caesar's unfinished Temple of Venus Genetrix. Marc Antony delivered the funeral oration, and either lifted the bloody toga or exposed the dead and bloody body.

The crowd went wild with anger and grief. Mobs rampaged throughout Rome, looting and burning and seeking anyone even vaguely associated with the assassination. Many people entered nearby temples and shops, ripped out any furniture or wood fixtures, and piled the wood atop Caesar's corpse. The bonfire was lit, and Caesar cremated.

When the fire died out, members of Caesar's family gathered what bones remained. These were buried at the Caesar family tomb. The location of this tomb is not exactly known, but it was on the Via Flaminia, on the same side as the Campus Martius. (The Mausoleum of Augustus may have been built next to it.)

In 42 BC, Octavian -- now known as Caesar Augustus -- constructed a small temple to Julius Caesar on the site of his adoptive father's cremation. It was finished and dedicated on August 18, 29 BC.

The temple wasn't very big, just 88.5 feet wide and 98 feet long. A semicircular niche existed in the front, in which was placed a round stone sacrificial altar. Stairs either were on either side of this niche, or on the sides and rear of the temple.

Behind the niche was a podium, set atop the place where Caesar was cremated. Short steps led up to the temple proper, which had six columns in front. Going through the bronze doors, you could see a double-life size statue of Julius Caesar, a star on his head (reminding people of the comet that blazed in the sky after his death) and a wooden "lituus" (shepherd's hooked staff, the inaugural item for Roman rulers) in his hand.

The temple was destroyed by fire some time between 193 and 211 AD. It was rebuilt.

At some point, the altar in front was removed and the niche filled in. It's not clear when this occurred: 14 BC, in the 340s AD, or just after 397 AD. (The latter two are the deaths of Constantine the Great and Theodosius I, both of whom were Christians and wanted to stamp out worship of Julius Caesar.)

The rebuilt temple remained intact until the late 1400s, when it was mostly dismantled to construct churches and palaces. Only parts of the cement core have been preserved.

One of these elements is a somewhat circular mound that marks the site of Julius Caesar's cremation. You can get within three feet of it, and people leave flowers there every March 15 to this day.

Normally, I don't like extensive tattoos. But I like his. And him.

Friday, January 13, 2017

January 13, 1982 – Air Florida Flight 90, a Boeing 737 jet, crashes into the 14th Street Bridge shortly after take-off and falls into the Potomac River, killing 78 people -- including four motorists.

Icing on the wings was later blamed for the crash. Modern de-icing procedures at American airports were implemented based on recommendations made after the crash.

On Wednesday, January 13, 1982, Washington National Airport was closed by a heavy snowstorm that produced 6.5" of snow. It reopened at noon under marginal conditions as the snowfall began to slacken.

The scheduled departure time was delayed 1 hour and 45 minutes because of the temporary closing of Washington National Airport. As the plane was readied for departure, a moderate snowfall continued and the air temperature was 24°F.

The Boeing 737 was deiced with a mixture of heated water and monopropylene glycol. The pitots/static ports and engine inlets had to be deiced, but workers did not comply with those rules. The deicing truck was also not working propertly. Instead of 30 percent alcohol, the mix was 18 percent. That was because the nozzle on the truck had been damaged, and replaced by a commercially available nozzle rather than one used specially for deicing trucks. (The operators had no means of knowing that the mixture was wrong, because the trucks lacked a mixture indicator.)

The plane waited in a taxi line for 49 minutes before reaching the takeoff runway. Pilot Larry Wheaton and First Office Roger Pettit had little experience flying in cold or snow. They decided not to return to the gate for deicing, fearing the flight's departure would be even further delayed. Both men were aware that snow and ice were accumulating on the wings when they decided to take off. The flight crew also did not activate the engine anti-ice system, which would have prevented sensors from freezing, ensuring accurate readings.

As they taxied, Wheaton and Pettit decided to get close to a DC-9 that was taxiing just ahead of them. They believed the heat from the DC-9's engines would melt the snow and ice that had accumulated on Flight 90's wings. This blatantly violated the flight manual. That's because doing so actually worsened the icing: The exhaust gases from the other aircraft only partially melted the snow on the wings, but did not disperse it. During takeoff, this slush mixture froze on the wings' leading edges and the engine inlet nose cone.

Takeoff occurred at 3:59 p.m. EST.

With the engine sensors iced over, the engine pressure ratio (EPR) thrust indicators provided false readings.

As the takeoff began, Pettit said several times that the plane did not seem to have as much power as it needed for takeoff, despite the instruments indicating otherwise. Wheaton dismissed these concerns and takeoff proceeded. He may have done so, in part, because control tower operators had told him that another aircraft was 2.5 miles out on final approach to the same runway.

As the plane became airborne, the stick-shaker -- an instrument that warns that the plane is in danger of stalling -- began sounding.

It took the plane just 30 seconds to crash.

Flight 90 was only 350 feet in the air before it began to fall. As it did so, the plane was aiming directly northwest up the Potomac River. As it crashed, its rear undercarriage and tail smashed into the 14th Street Bridge, hitting six cars and a truck. Forty feet of the bridge's wall plunged into the ice-strewn river below.

Eight people on the bridge were hit by the plan. Four died immediately.

The aircraft plunged into the Potomac, with all but the tail section. Both pilots and two of the three flight attendants died instantly. Of the 74 passengers aboard, only 23 survived impact. Nineteen of these were so severely injured, they were unable to escape the sinking airliner and drowned.

Just 5 passengers survived.

Flight attendant Kelly Duncan was the only crew member to survive. Clinging to the tail section, she activated a flotation device and passed Nikki Felch, a severely injured passenger.

Federal offices in Washington had closed early that day due to the blizzard, which caused a massive traffic jam. Traffic made it very difficult for rescue craft and ambulances to reach the crash site. Worse, the Coast Guard tugboat _Capstan_ was downriver on another search-and-rescue mission.

Roger Olian, a sheetmetal worker at St. Elizabeths Hospital, jumped into the water in an attempt to reach the survivors. He only traveled a few yards before coming back, ice sticking to his body. He tried again, this time tied to a rope, but heavy ice prevented him from getting more than 30 feet.

At approximately 4:20 p.m., Park Police helicopter manned by pilot Donald Usher and paramedic Melvin Windsor arrived and began attempting to airlift survivors to shore. First to receive the line was Bert Hamilton, who was treading water about 10 feet from the tail. Fire/rescue personnel and civilians pulled Hamilton ashore. The helicopter then attempted to aid passenger Arland D. Williams, Jr. Williams could not unstrap himself from his seat, and passed the line to flight attendant Kelly Duncan, who was towed to shore. The helicopter now lowered two lifelines, fearing that the survivors had only moments left before succumbing to hypothermia. Williams, still strapped into the wreckage, passed his line to Joe Stiley, who was holding on to severely injured Priscilla Tirado, who was blind due to jet fuel in the eyes. Nikki Felch took the second line. As the helicopter moved toward shore, both Tirado and Felch lost their grip and fell back into the water.

When the helicopter returned, Tirado was too weak to grab the line. Lenny Skutnik, a worker at the Congressional Budget Office, dove into the water and swam out to her, successfully pulling her to shore. Usher now maneuvered the helicopter dangerously close to the iceberg-filled waters, at one point his skids even dipping below the surface. Windsor stepped onto the skid and grabbed Felch by her clothing. The two stood on the skid until the helicopter got them to shore.

By this time, the wreckage had rolled, submerging Arland Williams. He drowned.

The National Transportation Safety Board cited pilot error as the primary cause of the crash.

The crash-damaged span of the 14th Street Bridge was renamed the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge to honor the passenger who died saving others.

Roger Olian and Lenny Skutnik received the Coast Guard's Gold Lifesaving Medal. Williams received the award posthumously. Donald Usher and Melvin Windsor received the Silver Lifesaving Medal.

Usher and Windsor also received the Interior Department's Valor Award.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

That's the face you want to wake up to for the next half century.

On November 1, 2016, Wikipedia established the "50,000 Challenge" for American contributors. The idea is to give people a sense of accomplishment and community spirit by challenging them to upgrade or write 50,000 new articles. There's no time-frame for the challenge.

So far, about 150 people have signed up for the challenge. That's nothing, considering Wikipedia has more than 1 million users in the United States alone. I've agreed to help out with articles for Ohio, Montana, and Washington, D.C.

I've written 16 article for them since then, all but two of them very substantial and very well-cited.

  • Riverside Cemetery Chapel
  • Riverside Cemetery Gatehouse
  • Cleveland Trust Company Building
  • Tower Rock State Park
  • Burton J. Lee III
  • Kaya Henderson
  • Pier table
  • Poker table
  • Antwan Wilson
  • Federal City Council
  • Cleveland Convention Center labor dispute of 1963
  • Cleveland Convention Center (demolished)
  • United Freedom Movement
  • Hobart Taylor, Jr.
  • Thermopolis Shale
  • Smith River State Recreational Waterway

It takes time to research and write these, especially when I'm not familiar with the topic (like geology), or when I have only limited access to research materials (like with Montana state parks). Some of these were kind of unexpected topics for me. Kaya Henderson, for example, was the D.C. public schools chancellor. She resigned, and Antwan Wilson was named her successor. Although there was a Henderson article, it was shitty and needed an upgrade. No Wilson article existed. Hobart Taylor came about because there seemed a lot of "red links" (wikilinks to nonexistent articles) in the Cleveland Convention Center labor dispute article, and his article needed to be written. (It turned out to be very fortuitous, as Taylor is an important civil rights figure.) And Burton J. Lee died; I knew quite a bit about Physicians to the President, and so I took it upon myself to write his article.

If I've been remiss in blogging since mid-December, it's because I love to write history. And I've just been writing elsewhere...

I refuse to post these to the front page of Wikipedia any more. But I will post them here. The article I wrote or assisted with is in bold.
Did You Know ... that although Congress said the proposed Peace Corps Monument should "commemorate the mission of the Peace Corps and the ideals on which the Peace Corps was founded", the memorial foundation keeps promoting it as a way of "honoring all Peace Corps volunteers and staff who have died while in service?
First floor hall, Main Building, Cleveland Public Library.

The library was designed by the Cleveland architectural firm of Walker & Weeks in 1921. It opened on May 6, 1925. The interior painting and mural work was done by the local firm of George D. Cornell, Inc.

first floor hall - Cleveland Public Library
Oh captain, my captain!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

U.S. intelligence agencies have not corroborated the allegations about his personal life and finances, which were gathered by an outside entity engaged in political consulting work. But they believed that the sources were credible enough to include them in the highly classified report Donald Trump and President Obama received last week, officials said.

The claims were presented in a two-page summary that also included allegations of ongoing contact between members of Trump’s inner circle and representatives of Moscow.

So I am sitting, waiting for my car's semi-annual check-up to end, and this guy walks by carrying a copy of the book Inside Star Trek by Herb Solow and Robert H. Justman (the show's producers). "Great book," I said. And then he stops to chat a minute, and shows me this.

It is a communicator that links to your cell phone. Best Buy sells them. They are super realistic, having been scanned from an original prop. I was wowed.

It chirps when opened. The whirl whirls. The buttons light up (and are used to answer the phone).

Bloom County nails it again!

January 10, 1870 – John D. Rockefeller incorporates Standard Oil in Cleveland, Ohio.

Rockefeller was born in July 1839 in Richford, New York -- the southeast area of the Finger Lakes country. His father was a snake-oil salesman who would abandon the family for a year at a time. His sainted mother, Eliza, instilled in her children an almost fanatical devotion to hard work and saving. The family moved frequently, but in 1853 the Rockefellers moved to Strongsville, Ohio. John enrolled at Cleveland Central High School, then the only free public school around. After graduation, he took a 10-week course in bookkeeping.

Rockefeller's first job was as an accountant for a local grocery company. He became adept at figuring out ways to save money on transportation, and in 1859 formed his own produce-importing business with William Clark after convincing local investors to loan him $4,000 ($106,000 in 2016 inflation-adjusted dollars). It is a testimony to Rockefeller's rock-solid character and business sense that practically everyone in town believed he would succeed -- at the age of 20.

By 1863, the price of whale oil had skyrocketed due to the demands for lubricating oil brought about by the Civil War and the complete collapse of the whale fisheries. Petroleum had only begun to be refined in 1848, and in 1859 the first oil well was drilled in western Pennsylvania. The oil business was booming: One could simply dig a hole in the ground, and oil would pool in it. Chemist Samuel Andrews approached Rockefeller and Clark with a proposition to form a new oil refining company using Clark's methods. The two agreed, and with additional money from Clark's two brothers a new company was formed -- Andrews, Clark & Company.

The Rockefeller refinery was built on Kingsbury Run (now filled in) on the Flats in Ohio. Frugal as always, Rockefeller found uses for the wide range of "waste products" -- things like gasoline, petroleum jelly, paraffin, and tar. Rather than contract out the construction of barrels and plumbing services, he created this in-house, saving huge sums of money. (It's not just that he paid his workers less. These employees worked on a piece-rate basis for every firm. Rockefeller promised them steady work [unlike other firms], but only if they cut their prices. It was a win-win for both parties.)

In February 1865, Rockefeller bought out the Clark brothers for $72,500 (equivalent to $1 million in 2016 inflation-adjusted dollars). He then changed the name of the firm to Rockefeller & Andrews. Rockefeller convinced his less-than-ambitious brother, William, to get into the oil business too, and soon William (with a loan from John) had constructed an oil refinery in Cleveland.

On March 4, 1867, John and William Rockefeller, Andrews, and businessman Henry Flagler formed the oil refining firm of Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler. (Flagler's step-brother, the liquor magnate Stephen V. Harkness, was a silent partner.) Transportation costs were the key to making oil cheaply available to consumers, and cheap oil meant more market share (and more profit). For Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler, the question was how to get its refined oil to East Coast cities.

At the time, the railroads were engaged in cutthroat competition for refined oil. Rate-cutting was common (with railways often losing money on shipments). Each railroad also attempted to win more oil freight business by rapidly building up its supply of tank cars, but this left the railroads with an oversupply of cars, which lost them even more money.

In 1868, Rockefeller formed a consortium of Cleveland-area refining companies. The consortium agreed to pool their shipments to the East Coast if lower freight rates could be procured. On behalf of the consortium, Henry Flagler reached an agreement with Amasa Stone, the Cleveland railroad baron who ran the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad: The consortium would guarantee at least 60 tank cars of refined oil every day, in return for which the LS&MS would cut shipping rates by 30 percent (e.g., offer a "rebate"). The consortium agreed not to ship oil with any other railway unless the LS&MS could not take the oil, and the LS&MS agreed not to offer a rebate to any other refiners unless they could provide at least 60 tank cars of oil a day (which none of them could). Stone quickly agreed to the plan, which greatly enhanced Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler's market share.

Rockefeller had long believed that overcapacity in the oil refining business would cause a crash in the price of refined oil. Anticipating the crash, on January 10, 1870, Rockefeller incorporated Standard Oil. John D. Rockefeller received 2,667 shares; Harkness received 1,334 shares; William Rockefeller, Flagler, and Andrews received 1,333 shares each; and the firm of Rockefeller, Andrews & Flagler received 1,000 shares as a reserve. New to the group was Oliver Burr Jennings, William Rockefeller's brother-in-law, who also received 1,000 shares.

The stock was set at a $100 per share par value ($1,894 in 2017 inflation-adjusted dollars), and Standard Oil paid a 105 percent dividend in 1870 and 1871. The overcapacity crash hit in 1871, and many refiners neared bankruptcy. In the fall of 1871, Rockefeller learned of a conspiracy being promoted by Thomas A. Scott (First Vice President of the Pennsylvania Railroad) and Peter H. Watson (then a director of the LS&MS). On November 30, 1871, Rockefeller met with Scott and Watson at the St. Nicholas Hotel in New York City, where Scott outlined his plan: Using a vaguely-worded corporate charter he had obtained from the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the Pennsylvania Railroad, the New York Central Railroad, the Erie Railroad, Standard Oil, and a few small oil refining companies would create and invest in a new firm -- the South Improvement Company (SIC).

The SIC's participating railroads would give the SIC's investor-refiners a 50 percent rebate on oil shipments, helping them to drive competing refiners out of business. Additionally, any time the SIC carried the oil of a non-participating refiner, the SIC would give a 40-cents-per-barrel payment ($8 in 2017 dollars) to the investor-refiners. The SIC would also provide the investor-refiners with information on the shipments of their competitors, giving them a critical advantage in pricing and sales.

Rockefeller saw the SIC as the ideal mechanism for achieving another goal: A monopoly on oil refining in Cleveland -- then about the only place in the country which had refineries. Once the SIC had severely weakened his competitors, Standard Oil would buy out the city's 26 major oil refining companies at fire-sale prices. The monopoly would allow Standard Oil to dominate the national refining market, garner significantly higher profits, and drive competitors out of business. With higher profits, Standard Oil could then rapidly expand, becoming even more dominant.

To make the purchases, Standard Oil needed cash. To secure the cash, Rockefeller allowed Amasa Stone, Stillman Witt, Benjamin Brewster, and Truman P. Handy — all of whom were officers in Cleveland banks — to buy shares in Standard Oil at par in December 1871. Stone and the other bankers used their influence at their own and other banks to give Rockefeller the financial backing he needed.

The SIC conspiracy collapsed in March 1872, but between February 17, 1872, and March 28, 1872, Rockefeller was able to buy out 22 of the 26 major refiners in Cleveland, an event which historians call "the Cleveland Massacre".

Events moved so quickly that additional capital was needed, and Rockefeller felt that the Cleveland banks could not be counted on to keep his loan requests confidential. On January 2, 1872, Standard Oil issued 4,000 new shares of stock in the form of a dividend (stock was issued on a pro rata basis to all the existing shareholders). Later that same day, another issue of stock was made. This constituted 11,000 shares, of which 3,000 were given to John D. Rockefeller, 1,400 to Henry Flagler, 4,000 to the owners of Clark, Payne and Company (one of the largest oil refineries in Cleveland), 700 to refiner Jabez A. Bostwick, 200 to refiner Joseph Stanley, and 500 to Peter Watson (who by now was the president of the SIC). Another 1,200 shares were given to John D. Rockefeller to retain as a reserve. On January 2, 1872, a third new issue of 10,000 shares occurred, and was given to Rockefeller to hold in reserve.

By trading shares in Standard Oil for ownership of the Clark/Payne, Bostwick, and Stanley refineries, Standard Oil completed its conquest of the Cleveland refinery business.

Standard Oil would grow even larger as it sought to control oil fields and oil transportation, and as it developed the "trust" form of corporate governance which allowed it to evade state and federal law and secretly undermine other oil drilling, refining, and transportation companies.

But it is Standard Oil's monopoly on the oil refining business of Cleveland that created the monster.

Standard Oil would last only until 1911. But in that time, John D. Rockefeller would become the wealthiest American of all time (even richer than Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Andrew Carnegie, Cornelius Vanderbilt, John Jacob Astor, Richard B. Mellon, Frederick Weyerhauser, Marshall Field, Sam Walton, Henry Ford, or J.P. Morgan) and the richest person in modern history.