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Flag Day : The Mysterious Origins of the American Flag

flagpole_theridgewoodblog

JUNE 13, 2012 By Jesse Greenspan

The American flag has gone through many changes since it was adopted in 177 by the Second Continental Congress. As the adoption of the Stars and Stripes is commemorated on Flag Day, find out more about Old Glory’s mysterious origins and its rise to iconic prominence.

When the American Revolution broke out in 1775, the colonists didn’t yet unite under a single flag. Instead, they fought mainly under unit or regimental flags, according to Marc Leepson, author of the book “Flag: An American Biography.” One flag of the time featured a picture of a coiled rattlesnake with the slogan “Don’t Tread on Me,” while another showed a pine tree with the words “An Appeal to Heaven.” “There really wasn’t anything that was stars and stripes, red, white and blue,” said Mike Buss, a flag expert with the American Legion veterans’ organization.

http://www.history.com/news/a-flag-day-history-of-the-stars-and-stripes?cmpid=FACEBOOK_FBPAGE__20170614&linkId=38695103

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The Dark Origins Of Valentine’s Day

st valentines

February 13, 20118:36 AM ET
ARNIE SEIPEL

Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate romance and love and kissy-face fealty. But the origins of this festival of candy and cupids are actually dark, bloody — and a bit muddled.

A drawing depicts the death of St. Valentine — one of them, anyway. The Romans executed two men by that name on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D.

Though no one has pinpointed the exact origin of the holiday, one good place to start is ancient Rome, where men hit on women by, well, hitting them.

Those Wild And Crazy Romans

From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.

The Roman romantics “were drunk. They were naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.

The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right.

http://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133693152/the-dark-origins-of-valentines-day

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7 St. Patrick’s Day traditions explained

St Patrick Shamrock Image

USA TODAY NETWORKJolie Lee, for USA TODAY NETWORK

et out your green! It’s St. Patrick’s Day. USA TODAY Network explains the origins of some of the Irish holiday’s traditions.

1. Who was St. Patrick?

St. Patrick — brace yourself — was not actually Irish. Patrick was a nobleman born in about 400 A.D. in Britain and kidnapped by Irish pirates at the age of 16, said Philip Freeman, author of St. Patrick of Ireland: A Biography.

Patrick was born into a religious family, but was an atheist early in his life. However, he rediscovered his faith while enslaved in Ireland, Freeman told USA TODAY Network.

After 17 years as a slave, St. Patrick escaped Ireland and found his way home, but returned to Ireland as a missionary.

“He said he was ready to die in Ireland in order to make his mission successful,” Freeman said.

It’s unclear if St. Patrick did in fact die in Ireland, but March 17 is widely believed to be the day of his death, according to Freeman.

2. Green River in Chicago is a family affair:

Another unique tradition that has grown in popularity every year is the annual dyeing of the Chicago River for St. Patrick’s Day.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/03/17/st-patricks-day-traditions-green-holiday/81868808/

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February 29th whats going on here?

leap year

Leap Year 2016: Why does February have 29 days every four years?

When is it, why does it happen and everything else you need to know about the leap year in 2016

Why do we have leap years?

A leap year, where an extra day is added to the end of February every four years, is down to the Gregorian calendar’s disparity with the solar system.

A complete orbit of the earth around the sun takes exactly 365.2422 days to complete, but the Gregorian calendar uses 365 days.

So leap seconds – and leap years – are added as means of keeping our clocks (and calendars) in sync with the Earth and its seasons.

Julius Caesar vs Pope Gregory

The Roman calendar used to have 355 days with an extra 22-day month every two years until Julius Caesar became emperor in the 1st Century and ordered his Alexandrian astronomer Sosigenes to devise something better.

Sosigenes decided on a 365-day year with an extra day every four years to incorportate the extra hours, and so February 29th was born.

In 46 BC, Julius Caesar, featured here in a self-decreed minted coin, created a calendar system that added one leap day every four years.

The system was tweaked, however, about 500 years later.

As an earth year is not exactly 365.25 days long Pope Gregory XIII’s astronomers decided to lose three days every 400 years when they introduced the Gregorian calendar in 1582.

The maths has worked ever since but the system will need to be rethought in about 10,000 years’ time. Perhaps mankind’s robot overlords will think of something.

Why does the extra day fall in February?

All the other months in the Julian calendar have 30 or 31 days, but February lost out to the ego of Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus.

Under his predecessor Julius Caesar, Feb had 30 days and the month named after him – July – had 31. August had only 29 days.

When Caesar Augustus became Emperor he added two days to ‘his’ month to make August the same as July.

So February lost out to August in the battle of the extra days.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/12177017/Leap-Year-2016-Why-does-February-have-29-days-every-four-years.html

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St. Valentine’s Day: Ancient roots stained in the blood of goats and saints

happy-valentines-day-2010

By Eric Olsen, special to cleveland.com
on February 13, 2016 at 9:45 AM, updated February 13, 2016 at 5:31 PM

You just finish putting away all the Christmas and winter decorations and Valentine’s Day rolls around, a time for the showy expression of love, especially romantic love, in the form of mushy cards, a box of chocolate, flowers, a romantic meal, maybe jewelry – you know what you have to do.

But Valentine’s Day, formally St. Valentine’s Day, has weird ancient roots stained in blood and rites of spring.

Lupercalia

Like many major Western holidays — Christmas, Easter, Halloween — Valentine’s Day has pre-Christian pagan roots, specifically in the ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia, which was observed February 13-15 for over 1,000 years before being abolished at the end of the 5th century. Lupercalia was an odd blend of spring purification ritual, fertility rite, and tribute to Lupa, the she-wolf who suckled the infant orphans Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome.

The festivities began solemnly enough near Lupa’s cave on Palatine Hill, where Rome was traditionally founded, and were directed by the Luperci, the “brothers of the wolf,” who were priests of Faunus, the Roman equivalent of Pan. The festival got down to business with the sacrifice of two male goats for fertility and a dog for purity by the Luperci, who were each dressed only in a goatskin.

Courtesy, Eric Olsen

Next, two young aristocratic Luperci were led to the altar and anointed with the sacrificial blood on their foreheads, which was wiped off the bloody knife with wool soaked in milk. A feast followed and then thongs were cut from the skin of the sacrificed animals and the Luperci, who were by then feeling quite festive, frolicked about the Palatine district.

In the 1st century, Greek historian Plutarch portrayed the scene. “Many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs,” he wrote. “And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy.” Maybe a few of the lads took it upon themselves to help out with the latter, but one can only speculate.

By the 5th century, the festival had been abandoned to the “rabble” in what was by then Christian Rome, and was finally banned altogether at the end of the decade as an unseemly and licentious display. Not a lot of hearts and flowers per se, but the festival, at least originally, was a playful and flirty ode to fertility.

http://www.cleveland.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2016/02/st_valentines_day_-_ancient_ro.html

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St. Valentine beheaded

st valentines

On February 14 around the year 278 A.D., Valentine, a holy priest in Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed.

Under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns. The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.

To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.

When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Valentine was arrested and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. The sentence was carried out on February 14, on or about the year 270.

Legend also has it that while in jail, St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it “From Your Valentine.”

For his great service, Valentine was named a saint after his death.

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/st-valentine-beheaded?cmpid=Social_FBPAGE_HISTORY_20160214_366715037&linkId=21244997

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Historians and archaeologists are very well used to quite dramatic climate changes through history

The One Thing about ‘Climate Change’ That’s Always Bothered Me…

Daniel Lattier | January 21, 2016

On the issue of climate change, there’s one particular claim of its apologists that has always bothered me. And I don’t think I’m alone.

It’s not the idea that we should take better care of the earth—I’m all for adopting a less utilitarian view toward it. It’s not the idea that taking better care of the earth may involve some major sacrifices and life changes—though I’d likely have issues with a national or global mandate. And it’s not the idea that the earth’s temperature may be warming, or cooling, or just “changing” (I can’t keep track of what’s currently considered orthodox).

It’s the claim that recent changes in the earth’s climate have been primarily caused by man, and that policy changes can reverse these changes. To me, it seems problematic to conclude this without defining a benchmark and without adequately taking into account dramatic climate change in past centuries.

Apparently Philip Jenkins, professor of history at Baylor University, agrees with me.

In a thoughtful piece for The American Conservative today, he explains that he doesn’t take issue with the scientific consensus “that the world’s temperature is in a serious upward trend,” and that it could have significant consequences for life on earth. And he’s in favor of developing new technology that depends more on renewable energy resources.

As a historian, however, he has a few issues “with defining the limits of our climate consensus, and how these issues are reported in popular media and political debate.”

For one, writes Jenkins, “[T]he correlation between emissions and temperatures is none too close. Rising temperatures do not correlate with any degree of neatness to overall levels of emissions.”

Also, Jenkins notes that assertions that modern climate change is “catastrophic and unprecedented” are amusing to historians:

“[Historians and archaeologists] are very well used to quite dramatic climate changes through history, notably theMedieval Warm Period and the succeeding Little Ice Age. That latter era, which prevailed from the 14th century through the 19th, is a well-studied and universally acknowledged fact, and its traumatic effects are often cited.”

And there seems to be a lack of precision when it comes to defining what constitutes a “normal” temperature for the earth. The 2015 Paris Conference said it hoped to restrict “the increase in global temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to… limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels”—and did not provide further clarification. But as Jenkins asks,

“[W]hat on earth is intended here? Which pre-industrial levels are we talking about? The levels of AD 900, of 1150, of 1350, of 1680, of 1740? All those eras were assuredly pre-industrial, but the levels were significantly different in each of those years.”

These all seem like reasonable points to raise, though it’s difficult to do so in today’s political “climate” without being immediately shouted down.

http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/one-thing-about-%E2%80%98climate-change%E2%80%99-%E2%80%99s-always-bothered-me

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Today is the 272nd birthday of the author of the Declaration of Independence, and the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson!

thomas-jefferson

Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

________________________________

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
Georgia:
Button Gwinnett
Lyman Hall
George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
William Hooper
Joseph Hewes
John Penn
South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge
Thomas Heyward, Jr.
Thomas Lynch, Jr.
Arthur Middleton

Column 3
Massachusetts:
John Hancock
Maryland:
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
Virginia:
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris
Benjamin Rush
Benjamin Franklin
John Morton
George Clymer
James Smith
George Taylor
James Wilson
George Ross
Delaware:
Caesar Rodney
George Read
Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
William Floyd
Philip Livingston
Francis Lewis
Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
Richard Stockton
John Witherspoon
Francis Hopkinson
John Hart
Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett
William Whipple
Massachusetts:
Samuel Adams
John Adams
Robert Treat Paine
Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins
William Ellery
Connecticut:
Roger Sherman
Samuel Huntington
William Williams
Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
Matthew Thornton

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Former spy and Nazi treasure hunter to share his experiences in Ridgewood

Germany Kristallnacht_Nich

Germany Kristallnacht_Nich

Former spy and Nazi treasure hunter to share his experiences in Ridgewood

MARCH 26, 2015    LAST UPDATED: THURSDAY, MARCH 26, 2015, 1:20 AM
BY JOHN PETRICK
STAFF WRITER |
THE RECORD

WHO: Yaron Svoray shares his adventures putting neo-Nazis behind bars and recovering Nazi treasures from France and Germany.

WHEN: 4:30 p.m. Sunday. There will be a reception with wine and light fare shortly before the lecture, sponsored by Joan and Daniel Silna of Saddle River.

WHERE: Temple Israel, 475 Grove St., Ridgewood; ssnj.org or 201-337-1111, ext. 208.

HOW MUCH: $35, students $25.

It might sound like a life of adventure: traveling the world, uncovering stolen Nazi treasures, going undercover to infiltrate underground networks of terror and bringing their leaders to justice.

But if there’s one thing that makes Yaron Svoray cringe, it’s anything that even remotely suggests his life is glamorous. To the general public, Svoray might be best known for his hunt of Nazi-era diamonds. Svoray’s search was documented on the History Channel’s special, “Blood From a Stone,” based on his book of the same title. But his recovery of Nazi treasures in France and Germany should not be overblown, he said.

http://www.northjersey.com/arts-and-entertainment/entertainment-news/tracking-treasures-stolen-by-nazis-1.1296270