Saddened By Fidel Castro Passing


News of Fidel Castro’s death ignited a curious sadness. Politics, propaganda and perception of the Cold War are complicated. It upsets me to ponder how little is remembered of how and why the revolution took hold.

Revolutions aren’t born of prosperity or contentment, they fester in a population oppressed by corruption and greed. Everyone knows of Castro, how many regard his predecessor Fulgencio Batista with contempt? How many Americans schooled on evils of Castro fathom the injustice of Batista’s Cuba, grasp simmering disgust for his roll out the red carpet invitation to organized crime and American profiteering? Batista governed twice under vastly different circumstances – duly elected president in 1940 on a socialist platform, Batista left office in 1944. Eight years in America later he returned as a candidate in the 1952 election, facing certain defeat Batista orchestrated a military coup, seizing power as an unelected dictator.

The U.S. government fawned over Batista, a dictator who suspended the constitution, revoked the right to strike, handed American based corporations exclusive rights to resources and welcomed U.S. mafia into Havana – all with financial/military support of the United States. Obviously America was rattled when Havana lawyer Fidel Castro called bullshit.

Cold War propaganda, a super-power pissing match, threat of nuclear annihilation – vilifying Castro was effortless. Who could blame people for thinking Communism their greatest enemy, the hammer poised to eradicate civilization. America wasn’t bothered by dictator Batista”s Cuba, his Cuba suited them nicely. Batista death squads, torture, state controlled media, suspension of elections and corruption could be overlooked – irrelevant details considered part of doing business.

Pondering sadness over Castro’s passing has nothing to do with pro/con analysis of his legacy. I’m not defending human rights violations, or claiming sunshine and roses for Cubans under his rule. My sentiment comes from the realization so many forget, or never knew why Castro orchestrated the revolution.

America condoned corruption and terror in Batista’s undemocratic Cuba because it suited them. America played a starring role in driving Castro to revolutionary desperation. In my opinion Fidel Castro began as an idealistic young man, a man appalled by greed, brutality and social injustice. Unfortunately 1950s hysteria called poking fat U.S. money bellies in the name of social justice Communism. By virtue of the era, Castro himself had no choice but to profess his ideology Communist. Castro seized power in a world indifferent toward human rights atrocities of a corrupt dictator who played well with American interests.

Remember this when pondering Fidel Castro. Before making broad generalizations, understand the Batista Cuba Castro abhorred. History’s puzzle isn’t complete without all the pieces. Pieces of time, place, circumstance and consequence won’t snap in place until we see the whole picture.

http://www.history.com/topics/cold-war/fidel-castro

Below, a link to another of my posts on Cuba

https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/cuban-embargo/

Mystery Of 1952 Killer London Fog Solved


December 5, 1952 – residents of London, England woke to cloudless skies characteristic of a prolonged pattern of unusually chilly weather. Shivering citizens fed coal burning fireplaces with earnest, soot belched from thousands of chimneys. Within a few hours thick fog settled over the city, by afternoon fog began to turn “sickly yellow” in hue.

Unaware of temperature inversion caused by a stalled high pressure weather system, Londoners had no way of knowing warm temperatures 1,000 feet above ground blocked noxious soot’s escape. Reeking of rotten eggs, poisonous sulfur rich smog halted air, train, boat and surface transportation. Those who ventured outside reported streets thick with sticky goo and blackened faces of coal miners. Over 5 days an estimated 12,000 succumbed to the killer fog. A government investigation resulted in the Clean Air Act of 1956, restricting burning of coal in urban areas and grants to convert coal heat to gas, oil or electric.

Knowing coal emissions trapped in fog are lethal isn’t the same as understanding chemical interactions at play. It took a trip to China (a coal burning nation, home to 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world) by Texas A&M researcher Renyi Zhang to publish findings Oct. 9 2016 in Proceeding of The National Academy of Sciences. Research indicating the same phenomenon takes place today.

“People have known that sulfate was a big contributor to the fog, and sulfuric acid particles were formed from sulfur dioxide released by coal burning for residential use and power plants, and other means.

But how sulfur dioxide was turned into sulfuric acid was unclear. Our results showed that this process was facilitated by nitrogen dioxide, another co-product of coal burning, and occurred initially on natural fog. Another key aspect in the conversion of sulfur dioxide to sulfate is that it produces acidic particles, which subsequently inhibits this process. Natural fog contained larger particles of several tens of micrometers in size, and the acid formed was sufficiently diluted. Evaporation of those fog particles then left smaller acidic haze particles that covered the city.”

http://www.history.com/news/the-killer-fog-that-blanketed-london-60-years-ago

Female Revolutionaries


Ponder International Women’s Day, ask yourself why women need a day of recognition. Let others quibble about reasons for lack of International Men’s Day or international days paying lip service to minorities. Forget social conscience lip service paid to atrocities and injustice. Dismiss tired debate of pay and gender equality. Take a moment, click on the link below and understand why women kick ass.

http://www.filmsforaction.org/articles/10-female-revolutionaries-that-you-probably-didnt-learn-about-in-history-class/

Thank Janus


On this first day of 2016, I find myself pondering why January 1 marks the beginning of a new year. As with so many traditions lacking astronomical substance or scientific reason, it starts to make sense when considering ancient history.

Ancient Rome celebrated a mid winter festival in honour of the god Janus. The god of “doorways and beginnings”, Janus had two faces – one looked to the future, the other to the past. Januarius was the first month of the Roman calendar, a time when citizens exchanged gifts of lamps to light the coming year.

The earliest record of new year celebrations comes from Mesopotamia around 2000 BC. Long before Roman Janus, Mesopotamian New Year fell in March with observance of the vernal equinox. Ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians and Persians partied in September with the fall equinox. Ancient Greece favored winter solstice on December 20. It was a free for all until introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1582, since the 16th century January 1st has heralded the new year. That said, make no mistake about it – we can all thank Janus for our hangover.

http://www.britannica.com/topic/Janus-Roman-god

 

Voynich Manuscript


History isn’t big on mystery. Absolute interpretation of events or symbolic meaning is deemed preferable to head scratching admissions of “your guess is as good as mine”.  Troublesome historic anomalies languish in hinterlands. Bordered by tendrils of skepticism, bereft of plausible explanation, history delegates mystery to the dusty ranks of hoax.

Such is the Voynich Manuscript. Carbon dated to the early 15th century, the Voynich Manuscript is written in a completely unknown language. Characterized by countless illustrations of plants, astronomy and female nude figures, the manuscript is divided into “sections” according to supposed subject matter. Based on illustrations, speculation’s best guess settled on Voynich as a medical guide of sorts.

Unknown before 1912, the year antique book dealer Wilfred M. Voynich found it among manuscripts at villa Mondragone near Rome, text defies translation. Scholars agree on very little, beyond an alphabetic script of 19 – 28 characters matching no known language, Voynich remains an enigma. Recent computer analysis only deepened the mystery, suggesting Voynich’s 235 pages contain more than one “language”.

Over the years, a document some consider the Middle Ages greatest hoax occasionally met assertions of explanation – from the website World Mysteries, linked following..

A first “solution” was announced in 1919, by William Romaine Newbold (Newbold, 1921), who caused a sensation by claiming that the manuscript did indeed contain the work of Roger Bacon and that Bacon had known the use of the compound telescope and microscope, seeing the spiral structure of the Andromeda galaxy* (!) only visible with modern telescopes and cell structures unknown in the 13th Century.

What Newbold discovered in the text was absolutely astonishing— enough to gather a lot of attention from the scientific community. The biological drawings in the text were described asseminiferous tubes, the microscopic cells with nuclei, and even spermatozoa. Among the astronomical drawings were the descriptions of spiral nebulae, a coronary eclipse, and the comet of 1273. One of the more baffling things about this was that many of the drawings of plants, and of the galaxies appeared to have been invented. There was no doubt that if Bacon were the author of such a text, he must have had some way of obtaining the information.

Followed by –

In 1944, Hugh O’Neill, a renowned botanist at the Catholic University, identified various plants depicted in the manuscript as New-World species, in particular an American sunflower and a red pepper (O’Neill, 1944). This meant that the dating of the manuscript should be placed after 1493, when Columbus brought the first sunflower seeds to Europe. However, the identification is not certain: the red pepper is coloured green and the sunflower identification is equally contested.

Other people involved in the study of the manuscript were prominent cryptologists such as W. Friedman and J. Tiltman, who independently arrived at the hypothesis that the manuscript was written in an artificial, constructed language. This was based on the structure of the “words” as described below. Such artificial languages were devised at least a century after the probable date of the Voynich manuscript. Only the ‘Lingua Ignota’ of Hildegarde of Bingen (1098-1179) predates the Voynich manuscript by several centuries, but this language does not exhibit the structure observed by Friedman and Tiltman, and it provides only nouns and a few adjectives.

Friedman came to know Petersen who at some time presented his hand transcription and other material to him. After Friedman’s death, all the material was moved to the W.F. Friedman collection of the Marshall Foundation. Recently, electronic versions of the transcriptions made by Friedman’s groups were produced from the typed sheets and made available on the Internet (Reeds, 1995).

Later acclaimed solutions see in the manuscript a simple substitution cipher which can only decode isolated words (Feely, 1943), the first use of a more or less sophisticated cipher (Strong, 1945; Brumbaugh, 1977), a text in a vowel-less Ukrainian (Stojko, 1978) or the only surviving document of the Cathar movement (Levitov, 1987). No acceptable plaintext has ever been produced though.

http://www.world-mysteries.com/sar_13.htm

Whatever the Voynich Manuscript might be, any document that eludes translation for 500 years, deserves a ponder.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voynich_manuscript#cite_note-3

“Tiny naked women frolicking in bathtubs” – a fragment of page 70
Copyright: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University
Page 70r  Image Source >>

Snapshots In Time


These photographs speak for themselves,

13.) A picture of the original Ronald McDonald from 1963.

The first Ronald McDonald circa 1963

14.) The Disneyland employee cafeteria in 1961.

Disneyland cafeteria 1961

23.) Beach patrols measuring the length of women's bathing suits in the 1920s.

Beach patrol measuring length of woman’s bathing suit 1921

24.) Martin Luther King Jr. removing a burned cross from his yard with his son in 1960.

Martin Luther King Jr. and son removing burned cross from his lawn 1960

25.) A hotel owner pouring acid in a pool while a black family swam in it in 1964.

Hotel owner pouring acid in pool while black family swam in it 1964

28.) A mother and her son look at the mushroom cloud following a nuclear test in Las Vegas in 1953.

Mother and son watching mushroom cloud of a nuclear test from Las Vegas home 1953.

29.) A mother shamefully hides her face after listing her children for sale in 1948.

Mother hides face after listing children for sale 1948.

32.) Christmas dinner during the Depression.

Christmas dinner during the Depression.

36.) This chimp poses for a picture after his successful mission to space in 1961.

Chimp returns from space mission 1961.

37.) Alcohol being poured out on the streets during Prohibition Detroit in 1929.

Alcohol being poured on Prohibition era street in Detroit 1929

38.) Princeton students after a freshman VS sophomore snowball fight in 1893.

Princeton students after freshman vs. sophomore snowball fight 1893.

40.) What happened when Sweden began driving on the right side of the road in 1967.

The day Sweden began driving on the right side of the road 1967.

52.) The Isolator was a helmet worn to help the wearer focus, rendering a person deaf. They even had a supply of oxygen (1925).

The Isolator helmet allowed the wearer to focus on tasks 1925

53.) A full-faced swimming mask that was to help protect women's skin from the sun (1920s).

Full face swim mask protecting woman’s face from the sun 1920.

70.) A man dresses his dog up in a suit and puts his cat in the dog's lap for a picture (1950s).

Cat and dog 1950

73.) Afghan women, casually dressed, use a public library before the Taliban rule (1950s).

Afghan women in public library before Taliban rule 1950

76.) Fidel Castro lays a wreath at the Lincoln Memorial (1959).

Fidel Castro lays wreath at Lincoln Memorial 1959

All images from – http://look.hypertomb.com/weird-photos-from-history/78/