May 2017 archive
On this day:
2000 – President Bill Clinton announces that accurate GPS access would no longer be restricted to the United States military.
The Global Positioning System (GPS), originally Navstar GPS,[a][b] is a space-based radionavigation system owned by the United States government and operated by the United States Air Force. It is a global navigation satellite system that provides geolocation and time information to a GPS receiver anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites.
The GPS system does not require the user to transmit any data, and it operates independently of any telephonic or internet reception, though these technologies can enhance the usefulness of the GPS positioning information. The GPS system provides critical positioning capabilities to military, civil, and commercial users around the world. The United States government created the system, maintains it, and makes it freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver. However, the US government can selectively deny access to the system, as happened to the Indian military in 1999 during the Kargil War.
The GPS project was launched in the United States in 1973 to overcome the limitations of previous navigation systems, integrating ideas from several predecessors, including a number of classified engineering design studies from the 1960s. The U.S. Department of Defense developed the system, which originally used 24 satellites. It became fully operational in 1995. Roger L. Easton of the Naval Research Laboratory, Ivan A. Getting of The Aerospace Corporation, and Bradford Parkinson of the Applied Physics Laboratory are credited with inventing it.
Advances in technology and new demands on the existing system have now led to efforts to modernize the GPS and implement the next generation of GPS Block IIIA satellites and Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX). Announcements from Vice President Al Gore and the White House in 1998 initiated these changes. In 2000, the U.S. Congress authorized the modernization effort, GPS III.
In addition to GPS, other systems are in use or under development, mainly because of a potential denial of access by the US government. The Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) was developed contemporaneously with GPS, but suffered from incomplete coverage of the globe until the mid-2000s. GLONASS can be added to GPS devices, making more satellites available and enabling positions to be fixed more quickly and accurately, to within two meters. There are also the European Union Galileo positioning system and China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System.
Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1:00 am local time (4:00 pm eastern time)[note 1] by a United States special forces military unit.
The operation, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, was ordered by United States President Barack Obama and carried out in a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operation by a team of United States Navy SEALs from the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (also known as DEVGRU or informally by its former name, SEAL Team Six) of the Joint Special Operations Command, with support from CIA operatives on the ground. The raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad was launched from Afghanistan. After the raid, reports at the time stated that U.S. forces had taken bin Laden’s body to Afghanistan for positive identification, then buried it at sea, in accordance with Islamic law, within 24 hours of his death. Subsequent reporting has called this account into question—citing, for example, the absence of evidence that there was an imam on board the USS Carl Vinson, where the burial was said to have taken place.
Born on this day:
1843 – Elijah McCoy, Canadian-American engineer (d. 1929)
Elijah J. McCoy (May 2, 1844  – October 10, 1929) was a Canadian-American inventor and engineer who was notable for his 57 U.S. patents, most having to do with the lubrication of steam engines. Born free in Canada, he returned as a five-year-old with his family to the United States in 1847, where he lived for the rest of his life and became a U.S. citizen.
Elijah J. McCoy was born free in 1844 in Colchester, Ontario, Canada to George and Mildred (Goins) McCoy. They were fugitive slaves who had escaped from Kentucky to Canada via helpers through the Underground Railroad. George and Mildred arrived in Colchester Township, Essex, Ontario Canada in 1837 via Detroit. Elijah McCoy had eleven siblings. Ten of the children were born in Canada from Alferd (1839) to William (1859). Based on 1860 Tax Assessment Rolls, land deeds of sale, and the 1870 USA Census it can be determined the George McCoy family moved to Ypsilanti, Washtenaw, Michigan in 1859-60.
Elijah McCoy was educated in black schools of Colchester Township due to the 1850 Common Schools act which segregated the Upper Canada schools in 1850. At age 15, in 1859, Elijah McCoy was sent to Edinburgh, Scotland for an apprenticeship and study. After some years, he was certified in Scotland as a mechanical engineer. After his return, he rejoined his family. By this time, the George McCoy family had established themselves on the farm of John and Maryann Starkweather in Ypsilanti. George used his skills of a tobacconist to establish a tobacco and cigar business.
When Elijah McCoy arrived in Michigan, he could find work only as a fireman and oiler at the Michigan Central Railroad. In a home-based machine shop in Ypsilanti, Michigan McCoy also did more highly skilled work, such as developing improvements and inventions. He invented an automatic lubricator for oiling the steam engines of locomotives and ships, patenting it in 1872 as “Improvement in Lubricators for Steam-Engines” (U.S. Patent 129,843).
Similar automatic oilers had been patented previously; one is the displacement lubricator, which had already attained widespread use and whose technological descendants continued to be widely used into the 20th century. Lubricators were a boon for railroads, as they enabled trains to run faster and more profitably with less need to stop for lubrication and maintenance.
McCoy continued to refine his devices and design new ones; 50 of his patents dealt with lubricating systems. After the turn of the century, he attracted notice among his black contemporaries. Booker T. Washington in Story of the Negro (1909) recognized him as having produced more patents than any other black inventor up to that time. This creativity gave McCoy an honored status in the black community that has persisted to this day. He continued to invent until late in life, obtaining as many as 57 patents. Most of these were related to lubrication, but others also included a folding ironing board and a lawn sprinkler. Lacking the capital with which to manufacture his lubricators in large numbers, he usually assigned his patent rights to his employers or sold them to investors. Lubricators with the McCoy name were not manufactured until 1920, near the end of his career. He formed the Elijah McCoy Manufacturing Company to produce his works.
Historians have not agreed on the importance of McCoy’s contribution to the field of lubrication. He is credited in some biographical sketches with revolutionizing the railroad or machine industries with his devices. Early twentieth-century lubrication literature barely mentions him; for example, his name is absent from E. L. Ahrons’ Lubrication of Locomotives (1922), which does identify several other early pioneers and companies of the field.
Regarding the phrase “The real McCoy”
Main article: The real McCoy
This popular expression, typically meaning the real thing, has been associated with Elijah McCoy’s oil-drip cup invention. One theory is that railroad engineers looking to avoid inferior copies would request it by name, and inquire if a locomotive was fitted with “the real McCoy system”. This theory is mentioned in Elijah McCoy’s biography at the National Inventors Hall of Fame. It can be traced to the December 1966 issue of Ebony in an advertisement for Old Taylor bourbon whiskey: “But the most famous legacy McCoy left his country was his name.” A 1985 pamphlet printed by the Empak Publishing Company also notes the phrase’s origin but does not elaborate. Other possibilities for its origin have been proposed.
The expression, “The real McCoy”, was first published in Canada in 1881, but the expression, “The Real McKay”, can be traced to Scottish advertising in 1856. In James S. Bond’s The Rise and Fall of the “Union Club”: or, Boy Life in Canada, a character says, “By jingo! yes; so it will be. It’s the ‘real McCoy,’ as Jim Hicks says. Nobody but a devil can find us there.”
Marriage and family
McCoy married Ann Elizabeth Stewart in 1868; she died four years later.
He married for the second time in 1873 to Mary Eleanor Delaney. The couple moved to Detroit when McCoy found work there. Mary McCoy (b. – d. 1922) helped found the Phillis Wheatley Home for Aged Colored Men in 1898.
Elijah McCoy died in the Eloise Infirmary in Nankin Township, now Westland, Michigan, on October 10, 1929, at the age of 85, after suffering injuries from a car accident seven years earlier in which his wife Mary died. He is buried at Detroit Memorial Park East in Warren, Michigan.
In popular culture
1966, an ad for Old Taylor bourbon cited Elijah McCoy with a photo and the expression “the real McCoy”, ending with the tag line, “But the most famous legacy McCoy left his country was his name.”
2006, Canadian playwright Andrew Moodie’s The Real McCoy portrayed McCoy’s life, the challenges he faced as an African American, and the development of his inventions. It was first produced in Toronto and has also been produced in the United States, for example in Saint Louis, Missouri, in 2011, where it was performed by the Black Rep Theatre.
In her novel Noughts and Crosses, Malorie Blackman describes a racial dystopia in which the roles of black and white people are reversed; Elijah McCoy is among the black scientists, inventors, and pioneers mentioned in a history class that Blackman “never learned about in school”.
1974, the state of Michigan put an historical marker (P25170) at the McCoys’ former home at 5720 Lincoln Avenue and at his gravesite.
1975, Detroit celebrated Elijah McCoy Day by placing a historic marker at the site of his home. The city also named a nearby street for him.
1994, Michigan installed a historical marker (S0642) at his first workshop in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
2001, McCoy was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Akron, Ohio.
2011, Senator Debbie Stabenow offered an amendment to the Patent Reform Act of 2011 to name the first satellite office of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, which opened in Detroit, Michigan, on July 13, 2012, as the “Elijah J. McCoy United States Patent and Trademark Office”. In fact the satellite office of the United States Patent and Trademark office is now so named.[A]
“And the people of Detroit have time and again been they very sort of pioneers who shape our country with innovative audacity. Near the end of the 19th century, an inventor named Elijah McCoy came to this city, drawn by its potential, and history was made-with more than 57 U.S. patents by the end of his remarkable life, Elijah’s vision transformed the railroad system, and with it our trade economy. That’s the story of American possibility, realized through the power of the American patent-and I can think of no more fitting name to adorn the walls of this new office than the “Real McCoy” himself.”
Ryan F. Mandelbaum: Scientists Want to Grow Your Music-Blasted Ears Some New Parts
Raptitude: How Billionaires Stole My Mind
Using the Internet, 2007 style
For the next 30 days, I will not be waking up to a torrent of images, opinions, jokes and fears from around the world. The first step was to get the most addictive apps—Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, for me—off my phone. I still have accounts, and will still use them, but I’ve set them up so that I can’t reach them from my bed, or from waiting rooms, coffee shops, and sidewalks. And they can’t reach me in those places.
Stef Schrader: Sports Car Legend And Flea Market Mogul Preston Henn Dies At 86
Is your story featured?
Roadtrippin kick off with Rebecca
I’m not young enough to know everything.
“The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.”
Ursula K. Le Guin
“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.”
I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.
Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.
“Sometimes our thoughts are backed by so much insecurity that they create lies we believe.”
Chylismia claviformis subsp. peirsonii was the source of the sticky pollen that persisted on my shoes for weeks after my March visit to California’s…
Phymatosorus scolopendria is a polypod fern native to tropical regions of the world. Its native range extends from tropical Africa to India, Thailand…
Source: Phymatosorus scolopendria
Acacia mangium is commonly known as brown salwood (PDF). It is a fast-growing single-stemmed evergreen tree, attaining a height of 35 metres. It is…
Source: Acacia mangium
Convolvulus ocellatus var. plicinervius is a small woody shrub, endemic to serpentine grasslands of Zimbabwe’s Great Dyke. The Great Dyke is a…
May 1, 2017 – MAY DAY – SCHOOL PRINCIPALS’ DAY – NATIONAL MELANOMA MONDAY – NATIONAL MOTHER GOOSE DAY – NATIONAL CHOCOLATE PARFAIT DAY – NATIONAL LAW DAY – NATIONAL SILVER STAR SERVICE BANNER DAY – NATIONAL LOYALTY DAY
On this day:
International Workers’ Day
International Workers’ Day, also known as Labour Day in some countries, is a celebration of labourers and the working classes that is promoted by the international labour movement, socialists, communists, and anarchists which occurs every year on May Day (1 May), an ancient European spring festival. The date was chosen for International Workers’ Day by the Second International, a pan-national organization of socialist and communist political parties, to commemorate the Haymarket affair, which occurred in Chicago on 4 May 1886. The 1904 International Socialist Conference in Amsterdam, the Sixth Conference of the Second International, called on “all Social Democratic Party organisations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on the First of May for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.”
Being a traditional European spring celebration, May Day is a national public holiday in several European countries. The date is currently celebrated specifically as “Labour Day” or “International Workers’ Day” in the majority of countries, including those that didn’t traditionally celebrate May Day. Some countries celebrate a Labour Day on other dates significant to them, such as the United States, which celebrates Labor Day on the first Monday of September.
Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labour movements grew, a variety of days were chosen by trade unionists as a day to celebrate labour. In the United States and Canada, a September holiday, called Labor or Labour Day, was first proposed in the 1880s. In 1882, Matthew Maguire, a machinist, first proposed a Labor Day holiday on the first Monday of September[nb 1] while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union (CLU) of New York. Others argue that it was first proposed by Peter J. McGuire of the American Federation of Labor in May 1882, after witnessing the annual labour festival held in Toronto, Canada. In 1887, Oregon was the first state of the United States to make it an official public holiday. By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty U.S. states officially celebrated Labor Day. Thus by 1887 in North America, Labor Day was an established, official holiday but in September, not on 1 May.
1 May was chosen to be International Workers’ Day to commemorate the 4 May 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago. The police were trying to disperse a public assembly during a general strike for the eight-hour workday, when an unidentified person threw a bomb at the police. The police responded by firing on the workers, killing four demonstrators.[nb 2] The following day on 5 May in Milwaukee Wisconsin, the state militia fired on a crowd of strikers killing seven, including a schoolboy and a man feeding chickens in his yard.
In 1889, a meeting in Paris was held by the first congress of the Second International, following a proposal by Raymond Lavigne that called for international demonstrations on the 1890 anniversary of the Chicago protests. May Day was formally recognised as an annual event at the International’s second congress in 1891. Subsequently, the May Day riots of 1894 occurred. The International Socialist Congress, Amsterdam 1904 called on “all Social Democratic Party organisations and trade unions of all countries to demonstrate energetically on the First of May for the legal establishment of the 8-hour day, for the class demands of the proletariat, and for universal peace.” The congress made it “mandatory upon the proletarian organisations of all countries to stop work on 1 May, wherever it is possible without injury to the workers.”
May Day has been a focal point for demonstrations by various socialist, communist and anarchist groups since the Second International. May Day is one of the most important holidays in communist countries such as the People’s Republic of China, North Korea, Cuba and the former Soviet Union. May Day celebrations in these countries typically feature elaborate workforce parades, including displays of military hardware and soldiers.
In 1955, the Catholic Church dedicated 1 May to “Saint Joseph the Worker”. Saint Joseph is the patron saint of workers and craftsmen, among others.
During the Cold War, May Day became the occasion for large military parades in Red Square by the Soviet Union and attended by the top leaders of the Kremlin, especially the Politburo, atop Lenin’s Mausoleum. It became an enduring symbol of that period.
Today, the majority of countries around the world celebrate a workers’ day on May 1.
Born on this day:
1579 – Wolphert Gerretse, Dutch-American farmer, co-founded New Netherland (d. 1662)
Wolphert Gerretse (1 May 1579 – 1662), also known as Wolphert Gerretse Van Kouwenhoven and Wolfert Gerritsen Van Couwenhoven, was an original patentee, director of bouweries (farms), and a founder of the New Netherlands colony; founder of the first European settlement on Long Island, New Amersfoort, and a Schepen of New Amsterdam in 1654. “He played an active role in laying the foundations of the communities of Manhattan, Albany, Rensselaer, and Brooklyn.”
Some descendants of Wolphert anglicized the surname “Van Kouwenhoven” to “Conover,” as well as “Crownover”, with Dennis Conover (born 1764) being the first direct descendent (4th Great Grandson) to use “‘Conover'” as his surname.
Wolphert was born on 1 May 1579 in Amersfoort, Netherlands, one of three sons of Gerrit Wolfert Suype Van Kouwenhoven and his wife, Styne Sara Roberts.
Dutch West India Company
Gerretse ran a baking and clothes bleaching business, when in 1625 he was assigned as one of the first settlers to cultivate farms in the New Netherlands colony by the Dutch West India Company.
Director of Bouweries for Kiliaen van Rensselaer
Following that service, in 1630 he returned to the Netherlands, where he entered into a contract with Kiliaen Van Rensselaer to return to the colony to manage his farms. Wolphert arrived back in the colony aboard the ship “Eendracht”, where he proceeded in his duties as director for van Rensselaer’s farms in Rensselaerwyck and Fort Orange. His contract was to run through 1636, but Gerretse requested it cancelled early so he could pursue his own interests. Rensselaer agreed. In 1632, Gerretse was released from his contractual obligations.
Shortly thereafter, he leased a bouwerie in New Amsterdam and managed it until 1636, when he was granted a patent of several hundred acres on Long Island. He called his plantation “Achervelt”; later it served as the founding of the town of New Amersfoort, named after Gerretse’s original home. Today the area is known as Flatlands. His plantation was located near the current intersection of King’s Highway and Flatbush Avenue.
In 2007 the deed of the granted land in Long Island was sold to a private collector for $156,000 becoming “one of the oldest Dutch documents in private hands.” The deed dated June 6, 1663 is written in Dutch and outlines the purchase of the land (3,600-acre) from the Lenape Indians. 
In 1637, he became a Freeholder in Midwout, and again in 1641. In 1653, he was sent by the colony to the States-General in the Netherlands as a Commissioner. In 1654, Wolphert served as a Schepen of New Amsterdam, and in 1657 was made a Burgher. He served on the citizens council of Eight Men.
Marriage and children
Gerretse died in 1662. A member of the Dutch Reformed Church, on 17 January 1605, he married Neeltje Jacobsdochter at the church in Amersfoort, Netherlands. With her he had three sons:
Gerrit (b. 1610-d. 1648)-was a Representative at the Council of Eight in 1643
Jacob (b. 1612–1670)-assistant to Gov. Woulter Van Twiller, Representative at the Board of Nine in 1647, 1649–1650, sat on the Court of Arbitrators between 1649–1650, Delegate of New Netherlands to the Hague in Holland
Pieter (b. 1614-d. 1699)-one of the first magistrates of New Netherlands, member of the Schepens Court 1653–1654, 1658–1659, 1661 and 1663, Delegate from New Amsterdam to the Convention of 1653, Lieutenant in the Esopus War, signer of the peace treaty 1664 with the Esopus Indians
U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt
U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt
U.S. Senator Sidney Breese
Astronomer John Monroe Van Vleck
Governor William A. Newell (New Jersey) (founder United States Life-Saving Service)
Nobel Prize winner John Hasbrouck Van Vleck
Cardiology pioneer William B. Kouwenhoven
Philanthropist Edward Harriman
Diplomat William Harriman
Railroad baron E.H. Harriman
Vice-Admiral Arthur S. Carpender
Actress Diana Douglas (née Diana Dill; mother of actor Michael Douglas)
Actor Michael Douglas (by mother Diana)
Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Denmark, Christopher N. Smith
Tennis Player Andy Roddick
Governor Howard Dean
Inventor Lloyd Conover
Associate Supreme Court Justice Willis Van Devanter
Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn, New York
Kouwenhoven Lane, Brooklyn, New York
Simple as that: 5 National Parks to Visit as a Family
Visit US National Parks FREE in 2017
In 2017 the National Parks Service will be waiving all entrance fees on these 10 days:
January 16—Martin Luther King Jr. Day
February 20—Presidents Day
April 15-16 and 22-23—Weekends of National Park Week
August 25—National Park Service Birthday
September 30—National Public Lands Day
November 11-12—Veterans Day Weekend
SB91 Strikes again!
Beginning in January 2018, alleged offenders will be able to be released from jail and be monitored by a pretrial officer instead of a traditional third-party custodian. Geri Fox, the division’s director, said efforts to form the division started 40 years ago.
By Eric Ruble: Alaska DOC says new pretrial division will increase public safety while saving state money