FYI August 16, 2017


1 BC – Wang Mang consolidates his power and is declared marshal of state. Emperor Ai of Han, who had died the previous day, had no heirs.
Wang Mang (Chinese: 王莽, c. 45 BC – 6 October 23 AD), courtesy name Jujun (巨君), was a Han Dynasty official who seized the throne from the Liu family and founded the Xin (or Hsin, meaning “renewed”[1]) Dynasty (新朝), ruling 9–23 AD. The Han dynasty was restored after his overthrow, and his rule marks the separation between the Western Han Dynasty (before Xin) and Eastern Han Dynasty (after Xin). Some historians have traditionally viewed Wang as a usurper, while others have portrayed him as a visionary and selfless social reformer. Though a learned Confucian scholar who sought to implement the harmonious society he saw in the classics, his efforts ended in chaos.

In October 23 AD, the capital Chang’an was attacked and the imperial palace ransacked. Wang Mang died in the battle.

The Han dynasty was reestablished in 25 AD when Liu Xiu (Emperor Guangwu) took the throne.

Early life and career
Wang Mang was the son of Wang Man (王曼), the younger brother of Empress Wang Zhengjun, and his wife Qu (渠, family name unknown), born in 45 BC. Wang Man died early, while Wang Mang was young, before Emperor Cheng took the throne and his mother Empress Wang became empress dowager. Unlike most of his brothers, Wang Man did not have the opportunity to become a marquess. Empress Wang took pity on his family, and after she herself was widowed, had Qu moved to the imperial palace to live with her.

While Wang Mang was obviously well-connected to the imperial family, he did not have nearly the luxuries that his cousins enjoyed. Indeed, unlike his relatives who lived expensively and competed with each other on how they could spend more, Wang Mang was praised for his humility, thriftiness, and desire to study. He wore not the clothes of young nobles but those of a young Confucian scholar. He was also praised on how filial he was to his mother and how caring he was to his deceased brother Wang Yong (王永)’s wife and son Wang Guang (王光). Wang Mang befriended many capable people and served his uncles carefully.

When Wang Mang’s powerful uncle Wang Feng (王鳳, commander of the armed forces 33 BC-22 BC) grew ill, Wang Mang cared for him near his sick bed day and night, and attended to his medical and personal needs. Wang Feng was greatly touched, and before his death, he asked Empress Dowager Wang and Emperor Cheng to take good care of Wang Mang. Wang Mang was therefore given the post of imperial attendant (黃門郎) and later promoted to be one of the subcommanders of the imperial guards (射聲校尉).

In 16 BC, another of Wang Mang’s uncles, Wang Shang (王商) the Marquess of Chengdu, submitted a petition to divide part of his march and to create Wang Mang a marquess. Several well-regarded officials concurred in this request, and Emperor Cheng was impressed with Wang Mang’s reputation. He therefore created Wang Mang the Marquess of Xindu and promoted him to the Chamberlain for Attendants (光祿大夫). It was described by historians that the greater the posts that Wang was promoted to, the more humble he grew. He did not accumulate wealth, but used the money to support scholars and to give gifts to colleagues, so he gained more and more praise.

Another thing that Wang Mang made himself known for was that he had only a single wife, Lady Wang, and no concubines. (Note that she had the same family name as Wang Mang—strong evidence that at this point the taboo against endogamy based on the same family name was not firmly in place in Chinese culture.) However, as later events would show, Wang was not completely faithful to his wife, even at this time.

Emperor Cheng appointed his uncles, one after another, to be commander of the armed forces (the most powerful court official) (see here for more information), and speculation grew as to who would succeed Wang Mang’s youngest surviving uncle, Wang Gen (王根, commander 12 BC-8 BC). Wang Mang was considered one of the possibilities, while another was his cousin Chunyu Zhang (the son of Empress Dowager Wang’s sister), who had a much closer personal relationship to Emperor Cheng than Wang Mang did. Chunyu also had friendly relations with both Emperor Cheng’s wife Empress Zhao Feiyan and his deposed former wife Empress Xu.

To overcome Chunyu’s presumptive hold on succeeding Wang Gen, Wang Mang took action. He collected evidence that Chunyu, a frivolous man in his words and deeds, had secretly received bribes from the deposed Empress Xu and had promised to help her become “left empress”, and that he had promised his associates great posts once he succeeded Wang Gen. In 8 BC, he informed Wang Gen and Empress Dowager Wang of the evidence, and both Wang Gen and Empress Dowager Wang were greatly displeased. They exiled Chunyu back to his march. Chunyu, before he left the capital, gave his horses and luxurious carriages to his cousin Wang Rong (王融) – the son of his uncle Wang Li (王立), with whom he had a running feud. Wang Li, happy with Chunyu’s gift, submitted a petition requesting that Chunyu be allowed to remain at the capital—which drew Emperor Cheng’s suspicion, because he knew of the feud between Wang Li and Chunyu. He ordered Wang Rong to be arrested, and Wang Li, in his panic, ordered his son to commit suicide—which in turn caused Emperor Cheng to become even more suspicious. He therefore had Chunyu arrested and interrogated. Chunyu admitted to deceiving Empress Xu and receiving bribes from her, and he was executed.

Also in 8 BC, Wang Gen, by then seriously ill, submitted his resignation and requested that Wang Mang succeed him. In winter 8 BC, Emperor Cheng made Wang Mang the commander of the armed forces (大司馬), at the age of 37.

First tenure as the commander of the armed forces
After Wang Mang was promoted to this position—effectively the highest in the imperial government—he became even better known for his self-discipline and promotion of capable individuals than before. As a result, the people’s perception of the Wang clan as arrogant, wasteful, and petty, began to be reversed.

In 7 BCE, Wang’s cousin Emperor Cheng died suddenly, apparently from a stroke (although historians also report the possibility of an overdosage of aphrodisiacs given to him by his favorite, Consort Zhao Hede). Emperor Cheng’s nephew Crown Prince Liu Xin (劉欣) (the son of his brother Prince Kang of Dingtao (劉康)) became emperor (as Emperor Ai). For the time being, Wang remained in his post and continued to be powerful, as his aunt became grand empress dowager and was influential.

However, that would soon change. Emperor Ai’s grandmother, Princess Dowager Fu of Dingtao (concubine of Grand Empress Dowager Wang’s husband Emperor Yuan) was a domineering woman who ruled her grandson. She greatly wanted the title of empress dowager as well. Initially, Grand Empress Dowager Wang decreed that Princess Dowager Fu and Emperor Ai’s mother Consort Ding see him periodically, every 10 days. However, Princess Dowager Fu quickly began to visit her grandson every day, and she insisted that two things be done: that she receive an empress dowager title, and that her relatives be granted titles, like the Wangs. Grand Empress Dowager Wang, sympathetic of the bind that Emperor Ai was in, first granted Prince Kang the unusual title of “Emperor Gong of Dingtao” (定陶共皇) and then, under the rationale of that title, granted Princess Dowager Fu the title “Empress Dowager Gong of Dingtao” (定陶共皇太后) and Consort Ding the title “Empress Gong of Dingtao” (定陶共皇后). Several members of the Fu and Ding clans were created marquesses. Grand Empress Dowager Wang also ordered Wang Mang to resign and transfer power to the Fu and Ding relatives. Emperor Ai declined and begged Wang Mang to stay in his administration.

Several months later, however, Wang Mang came into direct confrontation with now-Empress Dowager Fu. At a major imperial banquet, the official in charge of seating placed Empress Dowager Fu’s seat next to Grand Empress Dowager Wang’s. When Wang Mang saw this, he rebuked the official and ordered that Empress Dowager Fu’s seat be moved to the side, which drew great ire from Empress Dowager Fu, who then refused to attend the banquet. To soothe her anger, Wang Mang resigned, and Emperor Ai approved his resignation. After this event, the Wangs gradually and inexorably began to lose their power.

Retirement during Emperor Ai’s reign
After Wang Mang’s resignation, he was initially requested by Emperor Ai to remain at the capital Chang’an and periodically meet him to give advice. However, in 5 BC, after Empress Dowager Fu was more successful in her quest for titles—Emperor Ai removed the qualification “of Dingtao” from his father’s posthumous title (thus making him simply “Emperor Gong”), and then gave his grandmother a variation of the grand empress dowager title (ditaitaihou (帝太太后), compared to Grand Empress Dowager Wang’s title taihuangtaihou (太皇太后)) and his mother a variation of the empress dowager title (ditaihou (帝太后), compared to Empress Dowager Zhao’s title huangtaihou (皇太后)) – the prime minister Zhu Bo (朱博) and vice prime minister Zhao Xuan (趙玄), at her behest, submitted a petition to have Wang demoted to commoner status for having opposed Grand Empress Fu previously. Emperor Ai did not do so, but sent Wang back to his march Xindu (in modern Nanyang, Henan).

While in Xindu, Wang was careful not to associate with many people (to prevent false accusations that he was planning a rebellion). In 5 BC, when his son Wang Huo killed a household servant, Wang Mang ordered him to commit suicide. By 2 BC, there had been several hundred petitions by commoners and officials to request Wang Mang’s return to the capital. Emperor Ai, who also respected Wang Mang, summoned him and his cousin Wang Ren (王仁), the son of Wang Gen, back to the capital to assist Grand Empress Dowager Wang. However, Wang Mang would have no official posts and would exert little influence on politics for the time being.

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1865 – Mary Gilmore, Australian socialist, poet and journalist (d. 1962)
Dame Mary Jean Gilmore DBE (née Cameron; 16 August 1865 – 3 December 1962) was an Australian writer and journalist known for her prolific contributions to Australian literature and the broader national discourse. She wrote both prose and poetry.

Gilmore was born in rural New South Wales, and spent her childhood in and around the Riverina, living both in small bush settlements and in larger country towns like Wagga Wagga. Gilmore qualified as a schoolteacher at the age of 16, and after a period in the country was posted to Sydney. She involved herself with the burgeoning labour movement, and also became a devotee of the utopian socialism views of William Lane. In 1893, Gilmore and 200 others followed Lane to Paraguay, where they formed the New Australia Colony. She started a family there, but the colony did not live up to expectations and they returned to Australia in 1902.

Drawing on her connections in Sydney, Gilmore found work with The Australian Worker as the editor of its women’s section, a position she held from 1908 to 1931. She also wrote for a variety of other publications, including The Bulletin and The Sydney Morning Herald, becoming known as a campaigner for the welfare of the disadvantaged. Gilmore’s first volume of poetry was brought out in 1910; she published prolifically for the rest of her life, mainly poetry but also memoirs and collections of essays. She wrote on a variety of themes, although the public imagination was particularly captured by her evocative views of country life. Her best known work is “No Foe Shall Gather Our Harvest”, which served as a morale booster during World War II.

Gilmore’s greatest recognition came in later life. She was the doyenne of the Sydney literary world, and became something of a national icon, making frequent appearances in the new media of radio and television. Gilmore maintained her prodigious output into old age, publishing her last book of verse in 1954, aged 89. Two years earlier she had begun writing a new column for the Tribune (the official newspaper of the Communist Party), which she continued for almost a decade. Gilmore died at the age of 97 and was accorded a state funeral, a rare honour for a writer. She has featured on the reverse of the Australian ten-dollar note since 1993.

Early life
Mary Jean Cameron was born on 16 August 1865 at the small settlement of Cotta Walla (modern-day Roslyn), just outside Crookwell, New South Wales. When she was one year old her parents, Donald Cameron, a farmer from Scotland and Mary Ann Beattie, decided to move to Wagga Wagga to join her maternal grandparents, the Beatties, who had moved there from Penrith, New South Wales in 1866.[1]

Her father obtained a job as a station manager at a property at Cowabbie, 100 km north of Wagga. A year later, he left that job to become a carpenter, building homesteads on properties in Wagga, Coolamon, Junee, Temora and West Wyalong for the next 10 years. This itinerant existence allowed Mary only a spasmodic formal education; however, she did receive some on their frequent returns to Wagga, either staying with the Beatties or in rented houses.[1]

Her father purchased land and built his own house at Brucedale on the Junee Road, where they had a permanent home. She was then to attend, albeit briefly, Colin Pentland’s private Academy at North Wagga Wagga and, when the school closed, transferred to Wagga Wagga Public School for two and a half years. At 14, in preparation to become a teacher, she worked as an assistant at her uncle’s school at Yerong Creek. Another uncle, Charles White (1845–1922), was a journalist and author of books on bushrangers.[1]

After completing her teaching exams in 1882, she accepted a position as a teacher at Wagga Wagga Public School, where she worked until December 1885. After a short teaching spell at Illabo she took up a teaching position at Silverton near the mining town of Broken Hill. There Gilmore developed her socialist views and began writing poetry.[1]

Literary career
In 1890, she moved to Sydney, where she became part of the “Bulletin school” of radical writers. Although the greatest influence on her work was Henry Lawson it was Alfred “A. G.” Stephens, literary editor of The Bulletin, who published her verse and established her reputation as a fiery radical poet, champion of the workers and the oppressed.

She had a relationship with Henry Lawson that probably began in 1890.[1] She writes of an unofficial engagement and Lawson’s wish to marry her, but it was broken by his frequent absences from Sydney. The story of the relationship is told in the play “All My Love”, written by Anne Brooksbank.[2]

She followed William Lane and other socialist idealists to Paraguay in 1896, where they had established a communal settlement called New Australia two years earlier. At Lane’s breakaway settlement Cosme she married William Gilmore in 1897. By 1900 the socialist experiment had clearly failed. Will left to work as a shearer in Argentina and Mary and her two-year-old son Billy soon followed, living separately in Buenos Aires for about six months, and then the family moved to Patagonia until they saved enough for a return passage, via England, in 1902 to Australia, where they took up farming near Casterton, Victoria.[1]

Gilmore’s first volume of poetry was published in 1910, and for the ensuing half-century she was regarded as one of Australia’s most popular and widely read poets.[citation needed] In 1908 she became women’s editor of The Worker, the newspaper of then Australia’s largest and most powerful trade union, the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU). She was the union’s first woman member. The Worker gave her a platform for her journalism, in which she campaigned for the preservation of the White Australia Policy[3], better working conditions for working women, for children’s welfare and for a better deal for the indigenous Australians.[1]

Later life
By 1931 Gilmore’s views had become too radical for the AWU, but she soon found other outlets for her writing. She later wrote a regular column for the Communist Party’s newspaper Tribune, although she was never a party member herself. In spite of her somewhat controversial politics, Gilmore accepted appointment as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1937, becoming Dame Mary Gilmore.[4] She was the first person to be granted this award for services to literature. During World War II she wrote stirring patriotic verse such as No Foe Shall Gather Our Harvest.

In her later years, Gilmore, separated from her husband, moved to Sydney, and enjoyed her growing status as a national literary icon. Before 1940 she published six volumes of verse and three editions of prose. After the war, Gilmore published volumes of memoirs and reminiscences of colonial Australia and the literary giants of 1890s Sydney, thus contributing much material to the mythologising of that period. Dame Mary Gilmore died in 1962, aged 97, and was accorded the first state funeral accorded to a writer since the death of Henry Lawson in 1922.

Honours
Gilmore’s image appears on the current fourth series Australian $10 note, along with an illustration inspired by No Foe Shall Gather Our Harvest and, as part of the copy-protection microprint, the text of the poem itself. The background of the illustration features a portrait of Gilmore by the well-known Australian artist Sir William Dobell.

In 1973 she was honoured on a postage stamp bearing her issued by Australia Post.[5]

The Canberra suburb of Gilmore and a federal electorate, the Division of Gilmore, are named in her honour.

Bibliography
Poetry

Two Songs (1905)
Marri’d and Other Verses (1910)
The Tale inks (1916)
Six Songs from the South (1916)
The Passionate Heart (1918)
The Hound of the Road (1922)
The Tilted Cart : A Book of Recitations (1925)
The Wild Swan : Poems (1930)
The Rue Tree : Poems (1931)
Under the Wilgas (1932)
Battlefields (1939)
Pro Patria and Other Poems (1944)
Selected Verse (1948)
Fourteen Men : Verses (1954)
Men of Eureka and Other Australian Songs (1954)
Verse for Children (1955)
Poems (1957)
Mary Gilmore edited by Robert D. FitzGerald (1963)
Poems to Read to Young Australians (1968)
The Singing Tree : A Selection of Mary Gilmore’s Poetry for Young Readers (1971)
The Collected Verse of Mary Gilmore edited by Jennifer Strauss (2004–07)

Individual poems
“No Foe Shall Gather Our Harvest” (1940)

Prose
Old Days : Old Ways : A Book of Recollections (1934)
More Recollections (1935)
Letters of Mary Gilmore edited by W. H. Wilde and T. Inglis Moore (1980)

 
 
 
 

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FYI August 15, 2017

1248 – The foundation stone of Cologne Cathedral, built to house the relics of the Three Wise Men, is laid. (Construction is eventually completed in 1880.)
Cologne Cathedral (German: Kölner Dom, officially Hohe Domkirche Sankt Petrus, Latin: Ecclesia Cathedralis Sanctorum Petri, English: Cathedral Church of Saint Peter) is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Cologne, Germany. It is the seat of the Archbishop of Cologne and of the administration of the Archdiocese of Cologne. It is a renowned monument of German Catholicism and Gothic architecture and was declared a World Heritage Site[4] in 1996.[5] It is Germany’s most visited landmark, attracting an average of 20,000 people a day[6] and currently the tallest twin-spired church at 157 m (515 ft) tall.

Construction of Cologne Cathedral commenced in 1248 and was halted in 1473, leaving it unfinished. Work restarted in the 19th century and was completed, to the original plan, in 1880.[7] The cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and has the second-tallest spires. The towers for its two huge spires give the cathedral the largest façade of any church in the world. The choir has the largest height to width ratio, 3.6:1, of any medieval church.[8]

Cologne’s medieval builders had planned a grand structure to house the reliquary of the Three Kings and fit its role as a place of worship for the Holy Roman Emperor. Despite having been left incomplete during the medieval period, Cologne Cathedral eventually became unified as “a masterpiece of exceptional intrinsic value” and “a powerful testimony to the strength and persistence of Christian belief in medieval and modern Europe”.[4]

History
Ancient site

When construction began on the present Cologne Cathedral in 1248, the site had already been occupied by several previous structures. The earliest may have been for grain storage, and possibly was succeeded by a Roman temple built by Mercurius Augustus. From the 4th century on, however, the site was occupied by Christian buildings, including a square edifice known as the “oldest cathedral” that was commissioned by Maternus, the first bishop of Cologne. A free-standing baptistery dating back to the 7th century was located at the east end of the present cathedral, but was demolished in the 9th century to build the second cathedral. Only ruins of the baptistery and the octagonal baptismal font remain today.[9] The second church, called the “Old Cathedral”, was completed in 818. It was destroyed by fire on 30 April 1248, during demolition work to prepare for a new cathedral.

Medieval beginning
In 1164, the Archbishop of Cologne, Rainald of Dassel, acquired the relics of the Three Kings which the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, had taken from the Basilica of Sant’Eustorgio, Milan, Italy. (Parts of the relics have since been returned to Milan.) The relics have great religious significance and drew pilgrims from all over Christendom. It was important to church officials that they be properly housed, and thus began a building program in the new style of Gothic architecture, based in particular on the French cathedral of Amiens.

The foundation stone was laid on 15 August 1248, by Archbishop Konrad von Hochstaden. The eastern arm was completed under the direction of Master Gerhard, was consecrated in 1322 and sealed off by a temporary wall so it could be in use as the work proceeded. Eighty four misericords in the choir date from this building phase. In the mid 14th century work on the west front commenced under Master Michael. This work halted in 1473, leaving the south tower complete up to the belfry level and crowned with a huge crane that remained in place as a landmark of the Cologne skyline for 400 years.[10]

Some work proceeded intermittently on the structure of the nave between the west front and the eastern arm, but during the 16th century this ceased.[11]

19th century completion
With the 19th century romantic enthusiasm for the Middle Ages, and spurred on by the discovery of the original plan for the façade, it was decided, with the commitment of the Protestant Prussian Court, to complete the cathedral. It was achieved by civic effort; the Central-Dombauverein, founded in 1842, raised two-thirds of the enormous costs, while the Prussian state supplied the remaining third.[citation needed] The state saw this as a way to improve its relations with the large number of Catholic subjects it had gained in 1815.

Work resumed in 1842 to the original design of the surviving medieval plans and drawings, but utilizing more modern construction techniques, including iron roof girders. The nave was completed and the towers were added. The bells were installed in the 1870s. The largest bell is St. Petersglocke.

The completion of Germany’s largest cathedral was celebrated as a national event on 14 August 1880, 632 years after construction had begun.[12] The celebration was attended by Emperor Wilhelm I. At 157.38 Meters or 515 feet tall, it was the tallest building in the world for four years until the completion of Washington Monument.

(video) Cologne Cathedral in 2014

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1717 – Blind Jack, English engineer (d. 1810)

John Metcalf (1717–1810), also known as Blind Jack of Knaresborough or Blind Jack Metcalf, was the first professional road builder to emerge during the Industrial Revolution.

Blind from the age of six, John had an eventful life, which was well documented by his own account just before his death. In the period 1765 to 1792 he built about 180 miles (290 km) of turnpike road, mainly in the north of England.

Early life
Metcalf was born into a poor family in Knaresborough in Yorkshire, England on 15 August 1717. His father was a horse breeder. At the age of six John lost his sight after a smallpox infection; he was given fiddle lessons as a way of making provision for him to earn a living later in life. He became an accomplished fiddler and made this his livelihood in his early adult years. In 1732, aged 15, Metcalf succeeded Morrison as fiddler at the Queen’s Head, a tavern in Harrogate. Morrison had played there for 70 years.[citation needed] Metcalf also had an affinity for horses and added to his living with some horse trading. Though blind, he took up swimming and diving, fighting cocks, playing cards, riding and even hunting. He knew his local area so well he was paid to work as a guide to visitors.

In 1739 Jack befriended Dorothy Benson, the daughter of the landlord of the Granby Inn in Harrogate. When aged 21 he made another woman pregnant; Dorothy begged him not to marry the woman and Jack fled. He spent some time living along the North Sea Coast between Newcastle and London, and lodged with his aunt in Whitby. He continued to work as a fiddler. When he heard Dorothy was to be married to a shoemaker, he returned and they eloped. They married and had four children. Dorothy died in 1778.

His fiddle playing gave him social connections and a patron, Colonel Liddell. In one much-repeated[citation needed] story the colonel decided to take him to London, 190 miles (310 km) to the south. John found the colonel’s leisurely progress slow and went ahead on foot. He reached London first and returned to Yorkshire before the colonel. He managed this on foot despite his blindness, demonstrating his determination and resourcefulness.

During the Jacobite rising of 1745 his connections got him the job of assistant to the royal recruiting sergeant in the Knaresborough area. Jack went with the army to Scotland. He did not experience action but was employed moving guns over boggy ground. He was captured but released. He used his Scottish experience to begin importing Aberdeen stockings to England.


Carrier

Before his army service Metcalf worked as a carrier using a four-wheeled chaise and a one-horse chair on local trips. When competition cut into the business he switched to carrying fish from the coast to Leeds and Manchester. After 1745 he bought a stone wagon and worked it between York and Knaresborough. By 1754 his business had grown to a stagecoach line. He drove a coach himself, making two trips a week during the summer and one in the winter months.


Road builder

In 1765 Parliament passed an act authorising the creation of turnpike trusts to build new toll funded roads in the Knaresborough area. There were few people with road-building experience and John seized the opportunity, building on his practical experience as a carrier.

He won a contract to build a three-mile (5 km) section of road between Minskip and Ferrensby on a new road from Harrogate to Boroughbridge. He explored the section of countryside alone and worked out the most practical route.

Metcalf built roads in Lancashire, Derbyshire, Cheshire and Yorkshire, including roads between:

Knaresborough and Wetherby
Wakefield, Huddersfield and Saddleworth (via the Standedge pass)
Bury and Blackburn with a branch to Accrington
Skipton, Colne and Burnley

Metcalf believed a good road should have good foundations, be well drained and have a smooth convex surface to allow rainwater to drain quickly into ditches at the side. He understood the importance of good drainage, knowing it was rain that caused most problems on the roads. He worked out a way to build a road across a bog using a series of rafts made from ling (a type of heather) and furze (gorse) tied in bundles as foundations. This established his reputation as a road builder since other engineers had believed it could not be done.

He acquired a mastery of his trade with his own method of calculating costs and materials, which he could never successfully explain to others.

Later life
Competition from canals eventually cut into his profits and he retired in 1792 to live with a daughter and her husband at Spofforth in Yorkshire. Throughout his career he built 180 miles (290 km) of road. At 77 he walked to York, where he related a detailed account of his life to a publisher.

Blind Jack of Knaresborough died aged 92 on 26 April 1810, at his home in Spofforth. He is buried in the churchyard of All Saints’ Church, Spofforth.

Memorials
A statue of John Metcalf has been placed in the market square in Knaresborough, across from Blind Jack’s pub.[1]

Epitaph
His headstone, erected in the churchyard of All Saints Church, Spofforth, at the cost of Lord Dundas, bears this epitaph:

“Here lies John Metcalf, one whose infant sight
Felt the dark pressure of an endless night;
Yet such the fervour of his dauntless mind,
His limbs full strung, his spirits unconfined,
That, long ere yet life’s bolder years began,
The sightless efforts mark’d th’ aspiring man;
Nor mark’d in vain—high deeds his manhood dared,
And commerce, travel, both his ardour shared.
’Twas his a guide’s unerring aid to lend—
O’er trackless wastes to bid new roads extend;
And, when rebellion reared her giant size,
’Twas his to burn with patriot enterprise;
For parting wife and babes, one pang to feel,
Then welcome danger for his country’s weal.
Reader, like him, exert thy utmost talent given!
Reader, like him, adore the bounteous hand of Heaven.”[2]

 
 
 
 

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FYI August 14, 2017


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1893 – France becomes the first country to introduce motor vehicle registration.
A vehicle registration plate, also known as a number plate (British English) or a license plate (American English), is a metal or plastic plate attached to a motor vehicle or trailer for official identification purposes. All countries require registration plates for road vehicles such as cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Whether they are required for other vehicles, such as bicycles, boats, or tractors, may vary by jurisdiction. The registration identifier is a numeric or alphanumeric ID that uniquely identifies the vehicle owner within the issuing region’s vehicle register. In some countries, the identifier is unique within the entire country, while in others it is unique within a state or province. Whether the identifier is associated with a vehicle or a person also varies by issuing agency.

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History

France was the first country to introduce the registration plate with the passage of the Paris Police Ordinance on August 14, 1893,[2] followed by Germany in 1896.[3] The Netherlands was the first country to introduce a nationally registered licence plate, called a “driving permit”, in 1898. Initially these plates were just sequentially numbered, starting at 1, but this was changed in 1906.

In the U.S., where each state issues plates, New York State has required plates since 1903 (black numerals on a white background) after first requiring in 1901 that only the owner’s initials be clearly visible on the back of the vehicle.[4] At first, plates were not government issued in most jurisdictions and motorists were obliged to make their own. In 1903, Massachusetts was the first state to issue plates.

UK plates were first required from 1 January 1904 by the 1903 Motor Car Act.[5]

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1848 – Margaret Lindsay Huggins, Anglo-Irish astronomer and author (d. 1915)
Margaret Lindsay, Lady Huggins (born 14 August 1848, Dublin – died 24 March 1915, London),[1] born Margaret Lindsay Murray, was an Irish-English scientific investigator and astronomer.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8] With her husband William Huggins she was a pioneer in the field of spectroscopy and co-authored the Atlas of Representative Stellar Spectra (1899).[9][10]

When Huggins was young, her mother died and her father remarried, leaving her on her own much of the time. Obituaries written by her friends attribute her interest in astronomy to her grandfather, a wealthy bank officer named Robert Murray. According to these sources, Margaret’s grandfather taught her the constellations, and as a result of this she began studying the heavens with home-made instruments. She constructed a spectroscope after finding inspiration in articles on astronomy in the periodical Good Words.[11]

Huggins’ interest and abilities in spectroscopy led to her introduction by noted astronomical instrument maker Howard Grubb to the astronomer William Huggins, whom she married on 8 September 1875 in the Parish Church at Monkstown, County Dublin.[10] Evidence suggests that Huggins was instrumental in instigating William Huggins’ successful program in photographic research.[11] She was a contributor to the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition.

The London Times, in the notice of the death of Huggins, mentioned that Richard Proctor referred to her as the “Herschel of the Spectroscope”. In her will she bequeathed to Wellesley College and to Wellesley College Whitin Observatory some of her astronomy collection including cherished astronomical artifacts.[12]

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
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‘No heroes, just people’: Svetlana Alexievich on The Unwomanly Face of War | Waterstones.com Blog

‘No heroes, just people’: Svetlana Alexievich on The Unwomanly Face of War | Waterstones.com Blog

‘How can what is human in human beings be protected? That is the question I am trying to answer as I piece together the human spirit.’

A Nobel prize-winner, Belarusian journalist, activist and dissident, Svetlana Alexievich has made it her life’s work to bring people closer to the human face of conflict; interviewing women, children, ordinary citizens and soldiers, the true witnesses to war. Internationally acclaimed, her first book, The Unwomanly Face of War has sold more than two million copies worldwide but has only now been made available in English. An astonishing archive, giving voice to hundreds of Soviet women affected by the Second World War and its aftermath, the Times this weekend called it ‘a symphony of feminine suffering and strength’.

Here, in a new introduction written exclusively for Waterstones, Alexievich offers a rare glimpse into an extraordinary preservation of a forgotten history.

Videos August 13, 2017


 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 

How To Butcher An Entire Cow: Every Cut Of Meat Explained | Bon Appetit
Jason Yang, butcher at Fleishers Craft Butchery, breaks down half a cow into all the cuts you would see at your local butcher shop. There are four sections Yang moves through…

FYI August 13, 2017


1918 – Women enlist in the United States Marine Corps for the first time. Opha May Johnson is the first woman to enlist.
The United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve (WR) was the World War II women’s branch of the United States Marine Corps Reserve. It was authorized by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on 30 July 1942, yet the Marine Corps delayed the formation of the WR until 13 February 1943. The law provided that members of the WR may be commissioned or enlisted in such ranks and ratings equal to the regular Marine Corps, and effective for the duration of the war plus six months. Its purpose was to release officers and men for combat and to replace them with women in shore stations. Ruth Cheney Streeter was appointed the first director of the WR. She was sworn in with the rank of major and later was promoted to a full colonel. After attending Bryn Mawr College, Streeter was involved in health and welfare work. The WR did not have an official nickname as did the other World War II women’s military services although many unofficial and uncomplimentary nicknames were used to describe the women.

Young women were eager to serve in the military during WW II, and the Marine Corps wanted only the best. The overall qualifications for women who wished to volunteer for the WR were fairly stringent. The age requirement for officer candidates was between 20 and 49, and a candidate had to be a college graduate or have a combination of two years of college and two years of work experience. The age requirement for those who wished to enlist was between 20 and 35, and candidates had to have completed at least two years of high school. The WR did not accept African American or Japanese American women during World War II but did accept Native American women. The officer candidates first trained at the Navy’s Midshipmen School for women officers located at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. The initial training for enlisted women was held at the Naval Training School at Hunter College in the Bronx, New York City. Soon, the Marine Corps saw the advantage of having its own training schools. Effective 1 July 1943, all WR training was to be held at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Members served at shore and air stations across the continental United States, including New York, Chicago, Paris Island, South Carolina, and El Centro and San Diego, California. The territory of Hawaii was the only overseas duty station where members were assigned. They served in occupations classified as professional, semi-professional, clerical, skilled trades, services, and sales. Although the Marine Corps listed more than 200 available job categories, over half of the WR members labored in the clerical field.

Early in the life of the WR, members were met with some degree of resentment and crude language. They accepted these indignities by demonstrating their competence, self-assurance, and pride and soon won over most of their detractors. For her stewardship of the WR, the Marine Corps presented Ruth Cheney Streeter with the Legion of Merit. On the occasion of the first anniversary of its establishment, the WR received a message from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in which he observed, “You have quickly and efficiently taken over scores of different kinds of duties that not long ago were considered strictly masculine assignments, and in doing so, you have freed a large number of well trained, battle ready men of the corps for action.” The one tribute that stood out more than any other was the plain words of General Thomas Holcomb, Commandant of the US Marine Corps, who had been so opposed to having women in the Marine Corps in the beginning. He said, “Like most Marines, when the matter first came up I didn’t believe women could serve any useful purpose in the Marine Corps … Since then I’ve changed my mind.”

Background
At the outbreak of World War II, the notion of women serving in the Navy or Marine Corps (both under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Navy) was not widely supported by the Congress or by the branches of the military services. Nevertheless, there were some who believed that women would eventually be needed in the military. The most notable was Edith Nourse Rogers, Representative of Massachusetts, and Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the president, who helped pave the way for its reality. When President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed what would become Public Law 689 on 30 July 1942, it established a Women’s Reserve as a branch of the Naval Reserve for the Navy and Marine Corps.[1] The idea behind the law was to free up officers and men for combat, with women standing in for them at shore stations on the home front. Women could now serve in the WR as an officer or at an enlisted level, with ranks or ratings consistent with those of men. WR volunteers could only serve for the duration of the war, plus six months.[2] The Corps delayed formation of the WR until 13 February 1943.[3] It was the last service branch to accept women into its ranks, and “there was considerable unhappiness about making the Marine Corps anything but a club for white men”.[4] In fact, General Thomas Holcomb, Commandant of the Marine Corps, was a well-known opponent of women serving in the corps.[5] But he later reversed himself, saying, “there’s hardly any work at our Marine stations that women can’t do as well as men. They do some work far better than men. … What is more, they’re real Marines. They don’t have a nickname, and they don’t need one.”[6] Holcomb rejected all acronyms or monikers for the WR; he did not believe they were compulsory. And there were many of them, including: Femarines, WAMS, BAMS, Dainty Devil-Dogs, Glamarines, Women’s Leatherneck-Aides, MARS, and Sub-Marines. By the summer of 1943, attempts to pressure the WR into a nickname had diminished. WR was as far as Holcomb would move in that direction.[7]

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1958 – Randy Shughart, American sergeant, Medal of Honor recipient (d. 1993)
Randall David “Randy” Shughart (August 13, 1958 – October 3, 1993) was a United States Army soldier of 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1SFOD-D)/”Delta Force”. Shughart was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Battle of Mogadishu on October 1993.

Early life and education
Shughart was born August 13, 1958, in Lincoln, Nebraska, into a U.S. Air Force family. After his father, Herbert Shughart, left the Air Force, the Shugharts moved to Newville, Pennsylvania, to live and work on a dairy farm.[1]

Career
Shughart joined the Army while attending Big Spring High School in Newville, entering upon graduation in 1976. After completing basic training, he successfully completed AIT (advanced individual training), Airborne School, and in 1978 was assigned to the 2nd Ranger Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Fort Lewis, Washington.[2] Several months later he completed a pre-ranger course (currently known as SURT, Small Unit Ranger Tactics), was granted a slot to attend Ranger School, graduated, and earned the Ranger Tab. Shughart left active duty and went into the Army Reserve in June 1980. In December 1983, Shughart returned to active duty and the following year attended Special Forces training. Shughart was assigned to “Delta Force” and was transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina in June 1986. As a Delta Force operator, he advanced to Assistant Team Sergeant.[3][4]

Shughart was deployed to Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993 as part of Task Force Ranger. On October 3, 1993, during Operation Gothic Serpent, an assault mission to apprehend advisers to Mohamed Farrah Aidid, the Black Hawk helicopter with the call sign Super Six-One was shot down in the city. A Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) team came to secure it. Then, a second Black Hawk helicopter, call sign Super Six-Four, was shot down.[4]

Shughart, Gary Gordon, and Sergeant First Class Brad Hallings had been providing sniper cover from the air from Black Hawk Super Six-Two. Gordon wanted to be inserted to secure the crash site as hostile Somalis were converging on the area.[4]

Mission commanders denied Gordon’s request twice,[1] saying that the situation was too dangerous for the Delta snipers to protect the crew from the ground.[5] Command’s position was that the snipers could be of more assistance by providing air cover. Gordon, however, repeated his request until he got permission. Hallings stayed behind to man a machine gun as one of the helicopter’s gunners had been wounded.[5]

Shughart and Gordon were inserted approximately 100m from the crash site, armed with their sniper rifles and sidearms, and made their way to the downed Blackhawk. Chief Warrant Officer Mike Durant was already defending the aircraft with an MP5 but was unable to move from his chair due to a crushed vertebra in his back and a compound fracture of his left femur. When they reached Super Six-Four, they extracted Durant and the crew members from the crash and defended the aircraft.[4] It is believed that Gordon was first to be shot by the mob, which had surrounded the crash site. Shughart retrieved Gordon’s CAR-15 rifle and gave it to Durant to use. Shortly after, Shughart was killed, the site was overrun and Durant was taken hostage.[1] According to Michael Durant’s book In the Company of Heroes, the Somalis counted 25 of their militia dead after the firefight.[6]

There was some confusion in the aftermath of the action as to who had been killed first. The official citation states that it was Shughart, but author Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, relates an account by Sergeant Paul Howe who heard Shughart call for help on the radio and that the weapon handed to Durant was not the distinctive M14 rifle used by Shughart. Furthermore, Howe said that Gordon would not have given his weapon to someone while he could still fight. Durant later admitted that he initially misidentified which man was killed first, but did not wish to change the official record.[5] Shughart’s body was eventually recovered and is buried in Westminster Cemetery, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.[7]

In popular culture
In the 2001 film Black Hawk Down, Shughart was portrayed by actor Johnny Strong.[8]

Medal of Honor
On May 23, 1994, Shughart and Gordon were posthumously decorated with the Medals of Honor for protecting the crew of Super Six Four. They were the first Medal of Honor recipients since the Vietnam War.[9]

Herbert Shughart, Randall Shughart’s father, attended the Medal of Honor presentation ceremony at the White House, where he refused to shake hands with U.S. President Bill Clinton.[10] He then proceeded to openly criticize the president, saying, “You are not fit to be president of the United States. The blame for my son’s death rests with the White House and with you. You are not fit to command.”[11]

Medal of Honor citation

Citation:
Sergeant First Class Shughart, United States Army, distinguished himself by actions above and beyond the call of duty on 3 October 1993, while serving as a Sniper Team Member, United States Army Special Operations Command with Task Force Ranger in Mogadishu, Somalia. Sergeant First Class Shughart provided precision sniper fires from the lead helicopter during an assault on a building and at two helicopter crash sites, while subjected to intense automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenade fires. While providing critical suppressive fires at the second crash site, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader learned that ground forces were not immediately available to secure the site. Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader unhesitatingly volunteered to be inserted to protect the four critically wounded personnel, despite being well aware of the growing number of enemy personnel closing in on the site. After their third request to be inserted, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader received permission to perform this volunteer mission. When debris and enemy ground fires at the site caused them to abort the first attempt, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader were inserted one hundred meters south of the crash site. Equipped with only his sniper rifle and a pistol, Sergeant First Class Shughart and his team leader, while under intense fire from the enemy, fought their way through a dense maze of shanties and shacks to reach the critically injured crew members. Sergeant First Class Shughart pulled the pilot and the other crew members from the aircraft, establishing a perimeter which placed him and his fellow sniper in the most vulnerable position. Sergeant First Class Shughart used his long range rifle and side arm to kill an undetermined number of attackers while traveling the perimeter, protecting the downed crew. Sergeant First Class Shughart continued his protective fire until he depleted his ammunition and was fatally wounded. His actions saved the pilot’s life. Sergeant First Class Shughart’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest standards of military service and reflect great credit upon him-self, his unit and the United States Army.

USNS Shughart
In 1997 the United States Navy named a roll-on/roll-off ship USNS Shughart in a ceremony at the National Steel and Shipbuilding Company, San Diego, California. The ceremony was attended by a number of Naval officers and politicians including John W. Douglass, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition; Senator Bob Kerrey (D); as well as his Commanding officer at the time of his death, and others. The ship was the first “Large Medium Speed Roll On/Roll Off (LMSR) ship” to undergo conversion from a commercial container vessel to a sealift cargo ship.[12]

 
 
 
 

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The Million Dollar Space Pen Myth is just that, a myth. The pens never cost a lot of money and were not developed by wasteful bureaucrats or overactive NASA engineers. The real story of the Space Pen is less interesting than the myth, but in many ways more inspiring. It is not a story of NASA bureaucrats versus simplistic Russians, but a story of a clever capitalist who built a superior product and conducted some innovative marketing. That story, however, is a little harder to sell to a public that believes what it wants to believe.
 
 
 
 
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You Won’t Believe How Many Different Animals Pass this Single Beech Tree in Italy
A hidden camera installed near a beech tree in Italy’s Abruzzo National Park captures the incredible amount of diverse wildlife that calls this forest home.

The remote camera was installed by the ‘ForestBeat‘ team of Bruno D’Amicis and Umberto Esposito. The video above is just a short compilation of the myriad animals seen over the course of a year and changing seasons.
 
 
 
 
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FYI August 12, 2017


1990 – Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton found to date, is discovered by Sue Hendrickson in South Dakota.
“Sue” is the nickname given to FMNH PR 2081, which is the largest, most extensive and best preserved Tyrannosaurus rex specimen ever found at over 90% recovered by bulk.[2] It was discovered in August 1990, by Sue Hendrickson, a paleontologist, and was named after her. After ownership disputes were settled, the fossil was auctioned in October 1997, for US $7.6 million,[3][4] the highest amount ever paid for a dinosaur fossil,[5] and is now a permanent feature at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois.[6]

Discovery

During the summer of 1990, a group of workers from the Black Hills Institute, located in Hill City, searched for fossils at the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in western South Dakota near the city of Faith. By the end of the summer, the group had discovered Edmontosaurus bones and was ready to leave. However, a flat tire was discovered on their truck before the group could depart on August 12.[7] While the rest of the group went into town to repair the truck, Sue Hendrickson decided to explore the nearby cliffs that the group had not checked. As she was walking along the base of a cliff, she discovered some small pieces of bone. She looked above her to see where the bones had originated, and observed larger bones protruding from the wall of the cliff. She returned to camp with two small pieces of the bones and reported the discovery to the president of the Black Hills Institute, Peter Larson.[8] He determined that the bones were from a T. rex by their distinctive contour and texture. Later, closer examination of the site showed many visible bones above the ground and some articulated vertebrae.[9] The crew ordered extra plaster and, although some of the crew had to depart, Hendrickson and a few other workers began to uncover the bones. The group was excited, as it was evident that much of the dinosaur had been preserved. Previously discovered T. rex skeletons were usually missing over half of their bones.[9] It was later ascertained that Sue was a record 90 percent complete by bulk.[10] Scientists believe that this specimen was covered by water and mud soon after its death which prevented other animals from carrying away the bones.[11] Additionally, the rushing water mixed the skeleton together. When the fossil was found the hip bones were above the skull and the leg bones were intertwined with the ribs. The large size and the excellent condition of the bones were also surprising. The skull was nearly five feet long (1394 millimeters), and most of the teeth were still intact. After the group completed excavating the bones, each vertebra was covered in burlap and coated in plaster, followed by a transfer to the offices of The Black Hills Institute where they began to clean the bones.

Dispute and auction
Soon after the fossils were found, a dispute arose over their legal ownership. The Black Hills Institute had obtained permission from the owner of the land, Maurice Williams, to excavate and remove the skeleton, and had paid Williams US$5,000 for the remains.[12] Williams claimed, almost 2 years after depositing the check, that the $5000 payment had not been for the sale of the fossil, and he had only allowed Larson to remove and clean the fossil for a later sale. [9] Williams never credited or compensated Larson or The Black Hills Institute, and video rerecordings, eye witness accounts, and the cancelled check memo show Williams changed his story. Williams was a member of the Sioux tribe, and the tribe claimed the bones belonged to them. However, the property that the fossil had been found within was held in trust by the United States Department of the Interior. Thus, the land technically belonged to the government. In 1992, the FBI and the South Dakota National Guard raided the site where The Black Hills Institute had been cleaning the bones and seized the fossil.[13] The government transferred the remains to the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, where it was stored until the legal dispute was settled. After a lengthy trial, the court decreed that Maurice Williams retained ownership, because as a beneficiary he was protected by the law against an impulsive selling of real property, and the remains were returned in 1995. Williams then decided to sell the remains, and contracted with Sotheby’s to auction the property. Many were then worried that the fossil would end up in a private collection where people would not be able to observe it.[14][15] The Field Museum in Chicago was also concerned about this possibility, and decided to attempt to purchase Sue. However, the organization realized that they might have had difficulty securing funding and requested that companies and private citizens provide financial support. The California State University system, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, McDonald’s, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and individual donors agreed to assist in purchasing Sue for The Field Museum. On October 4, 1997, the auction began at US$500,000; less than ten minutes later, The Field Museum had purchased the remains with the highest bid of US$7.6 million. The final cost after Sotheby’s commission was US$8,362,500.[5][16] Williams received the $7.6 million tax free due to being a sale of Trust Land.

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1889 – Zerna Sharp, American author and educator (d. 1981)
Zerna Addis Sharp (August 12, 1889 – June 17, 1981) was a US author, writer and teacher. She became known for creating the Dick and Jane beginning readers, and many other readers for children. Sharp noted the reduced reading ability of children during her travels and urged a new reading format for primers. She suggested that primers introduce a word at a time to new readers, and the Dick and Jane primers adhered to this format. The names “Dick” and “Jane” were chosen because they were easy to sound. The primers were sold from 1927 to 1973.

Sharp was born in Hillisburg, Clinton County, Indiana. She died in Frankfort, Indiana at the age of 91.

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