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President Barack Obama meets with staff in the Oval Office, May 13, 2011. Attending the meeting, clockwise from the President, are: Director of Communications Dan Pfeiffer; Deputy Senior Advisor Stephanie Cutter; Jon Favreau, Director of Speechwriting; Jon Lovett, Associate Director of Speechwriting; and Senior Advisor David Plouffe
On this day: Russia in a click
On May 13, 1913, the world's first four-engine airplane, Le Grand took off on its maiden flight in St. Petersburg with the plane's designer Igor Sikorsky at the helm.
Many of aircraft designers throughout the world had already abandoned the idea of making a large craft such as the Le Grand. They repeatedly stated that it was too big and too heavy to rise from the ground. Others claimed that if it actually became airborne, it would be impossible to control if one of its engines failed. Sikorsky’s craft passed this test and made its point.
Sikorsky had already earned popularity for designing and building helicopters, but eventually he had come to sense the advent of the huge multi-engined aircraft to carry passengers and freight over long distances in the near future.
Le Grand, the precursor of many modern bombers and commercial transports, had upstaged all other planes built up to that time. Its wingspan totaled 92 feet, it weighed about 4,500 pounds, and it had four 100-horsepower engines planted between the wings, with two at each side – one in front of the other.
The pilot's and passenger cabins were like nothing ever before seen in the aviation design. A spacious balcony occupied the front part of the fuselage, which permitted passengers to enjoy an open-air stroll. A door connected the balcony with the pilot's cabin, which had two seats and dual controls. Another door opened into the passenger cabin: a luxurious room boasted four seats, a couch, and even a washroom. Sikorsky saw his Le Grand as a pioneer aircraft, and adopted all of the conveniences in anticipation of the promising future of the passenger aviation. These innovative features were not adopted elsewhere until the middle of the 1920s.
Le Grand had a history of 53 flawless flights and a world endurance record of one hour and 54 minutes with eight passengers aboard, performed on August 2, 1913. The aircraft could have served longer if it had not been for a silly accident which had put an end to its career. While Le Grand was participating in an air show, it got damaged by a break-away engine from another craft. It never flew again, but Sikorsky had completed his objective – he proved a four-engine plane could fly successfully, leading the way for a new generation of multi-engined airplanes.
Keep track of bonds and interest rates
The allure of U.S. bonds as proverbial safe havens also seems to have increased thanks to the latest debt woes in Greece and other parts of Europe. Fund tracking firm EPFR Global reported Friday that U.S. bond funds had their highest inflows of the year this past week.
Whether or not bond yields continue to remain this low after the Federal Reserve's second round of quantitative easing, a bond buying binge more commonly referred to as QE2, ends next month is an open question.
Some worry that rates will shoot drastically higher because the Fed will no longer be a buyer of last resort keeping yields as low as they have been.
But James Barnes, senior fixed income portfolio manager with National Penn Investors Trust Company in Reading, Pa., said he thinks the end of QE2 won't cause a massive spike in long-term rates.
Barnes said the 10-year yield could climb as high as 3.75% by the end of the year. While that would be noticeably higher than where rates currently are, they would still be pretty low by historical standards. And he thinks the move to 3.75% will be a steady grind up, not a dramatic pop.
It all comes back to the notion that the bond market just doesn't believe the inflation hype and is far more worried about the economy stalling.
Old Calendar: St. Robert Bellarmine, bishop and doctor Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament
The Blessed Virgin Mary is venerated under this title following apparitions to three shepherd children — Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco — in Portugal in 1917. The message of Fatima includes a call to conversion of heart, repentance from sin and a dedication to the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially through praying the Rosary. This optional memorial is new to the USA liturgical calendar and is inscribed on May 13.
According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Robert Bellarmine. He was famous throughout Europe as a theologian, and as a strenuous defender of the Faith in controversy with Protestants. He joined the Society of Jesus, and was later made Cardinal and Archbishop of Capua. His numerous writings include works of devotion and instruction, as well as of controversy. He died in 1621, and was canonized and declared Doctor of the Church in 1931. His feast in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is celebrated on September 17.
Today is also the feast of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament. This title was given to our Blessed Mother in May 1868 by Saint Peter Julian Eymard to honor her relationship to the Holy Eucharist and to place her before us as a model in our duties and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
Our Lady of Fatima
The famous apparitions of the Virgin Mary to the children of Fatima took place during the First World War, in the summer of 1917. The inhabitants of this tiny village in the diocese of Leiria (Portugal) were mostly poor people, many of them small farmers who went out by day to tend their fields and animals. Children traditionally were assigned the task of herding the sheep.
The three children who received the apparitions had been brought up in an atmosphere of genuine piety: Lucia dos Santos (ten years old) and her two younger cousins, Francisco and Jacinta. Together they tended the sheep and, with Lucy in charge, would often pray the Rosary kneeling in the open. In the summer of 1916 an Angel appeared to them several times and taught them a prayer to the Blessed Trinity.
On Sunday, May 13, 1917, toward noon, a flash of lightning drew the attention of the children, and they saw a brilliant figure appearing over the trees of the Cova da Iria. The "Lady" asked them to pray for the conversion of sinners and an end to the war, and to come back every month, on the 13th.
Further apparitions took place on June 13 and July 13. On August 13 the children were prevented by local authorities from going to the Cova da Iria, but they saw the apparition on the 19th. On September 13 the Lady requested recitation of the Rosary for an end to the war. Finally, on October 13, the "Lady" identified herself as "Our Lady of the Rosary" and again called for prayer and penitence.
On that day a celestial phenomenon also took place: the sun seemed to tumble from the sky and crash toward earth. The children had been forewarned of it as early as May 13, the first apparition. The large crowd (estimated at 30,000 by reporters) that had gathered around the children saw the phenomenon and came away astounded.
Official recognition of the "visions" which the children had at the Cova da Iria came on October 13, 1930, when the bishop of Leiria - after long inquiry - authorized the cult of Our Lady of the Rosary at the site. The two younger children had died: Francisco (who saw the apparition but did not hear the words) on April 4, 1919, and his sister Jacinta on February 20, 1920. Sister Lucia died on February 13, 2005, at her Carmelite convent in Coimbra, Portugal, after a long illness.
— Excerpted from Dictionary of Mary, Catholic Book Publishing Company.
The Message of Fatima
The public message of Fatima recalls that of Lourdes. Through the children Mary urges prayer for sinners, recitation of the Rosary, and works of penance. On October 13 she said: "I have come to exhort the faithful to change their lives, to avoid grieving Our Lord by sin to pray the Rosary. I desire in this place a chapel in my honor. If people mend their ways, the war will soon be over."
But Mary also confided several "secrets" to the children, some of which Lucy subsequently transmitted. Presumably there was prediction of another war in the near future and a request for special veneration of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The final secret Lucy is thought to have entrusted to Pope John XXIII.
As at Lourdes, the "apparitions" of Fatima have brought crowds of visitors. Pilgrimages, which began in the summer of 1917, have experienced growing success, not only among the Portuguese themselves but also among people from other countries, including the United States. The national pilgrimage following ecclesiastical recognition of the apparitions (May 13, 1931) is said to have drawn more than a million participants.
Popes have shown exceptional favor toward Fatima, Pius XII, Paul VI, and John Paul II in particular making a visit to the shrine. The papal interest and the basilica built at the site of the apparitions has helped to swell the summer pilgrimages to Fatima. Crowds comparable to, and sometimes larger than, those at Lourdes are not uncommon. In a rustic setting, pilgrims hear the message repeated that Mary spoke to the children: prayer, works of penance, recourse to her Immaculate Heart.
— Excerpted from Dictionary of Mary, Catholic Book Publishing Company.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament
This title penetrates the mystery itself of the Eucharist, and when well understood, manifests to us the most important part granted to Mary in the economy of the Holy Eucharist.
If we have thoroughly seized Pierre Eymard's thought we understand that she is, first, the Mother of Jesus, giving to the Word her most pure blood, which was changed on the day of the Incarnation into His own Body, into His own Blood, in order to consecrate it later, on the night of the Last Supper, into His Sacrament of Love.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament is Mary receiving in quality of universal dispensatrix of grace, the full and absolute disposition of the Eucharist and the graces that It contains, because this Sacrament is the most efficacious means of salvation, the fruit par excellence of the Redemption of Jesus Christ. To her, consequently, it belongs to make Jesus in the Sacrament known and loved to her it belongs to spread the Eucharist throughout the world, to multiply churches, to raise them in infidel lands, and to defend faith in the Eucharist against heretics and the impious to her it belongs to prepare souls for Communion, to rouse them to make frequent visits to Jesus, and to assist zealously at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. She is the treasure-house of all the graces comprised in the Eucharist, both those that prepare the soul for It and those that flow from It.
— Month of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament by St. Peter Julian Eymard
The Great Heat Wave of 1936 Hottest Summer in U.S. on Record
As the eastern two-thirds of the United States continues to swelter under some of the hottest temperatures seen in recent years I thought it opportune to look back at the nation’s worst heat wave and hottest summer in history, that of 1936.
1936 A Year of Extremes
The climatological summer (June-August) of 1936 was the warmest nationwide on record (since 1895) with an average temperature of 74.6° (2nd warmest summer was that of 2006 with an average of 74.4°) and July of 1936 was the single warmest month ever measured with an average of 77.4° (beating out July 2006 by .1°). Ironically, February of 1936 was the coldest such on record with an average nationwide temperature of 26.0° (single coldest month on record was January 1977 with a 23.6° average). In February of 1936 temperatures fell as low as -60° in North Dakota, an all-time state record and Turtle Lake, North Dakota averaged -19.4° for the entire month, the coldest average monthly temperature ever recorded in the United States outside of Alaska. One town in North Dakota, Langdon, went for 41 consecutive days below zero (from January 11 to February 20), the longest stretch of below zero (including maximum temperatures) ever endured at any site in the lower 48.
With this in mind, it is truly astonishing what occurred the following summer. The temperature in North Dakota that had reached -60° on February 15 at Parshall rose to 121° at Steele by July 6, 1936. The two towns are just 110 miles from one another!
June of 1936 saw unusual heat build initially in two nodes, one centered over the Southeast and another over the Rocky Mountains and western Plains. This differs from the current heat wave that began mostly over Texas and the Deep South.
By the end of June 1936 all-time state monthly records for heat had been established in Arkansas (113° at Corning on June 20th), Indiana (111° at Seymore on June 29th), Kentucky (110° at St. John on June 29th), Louisiana (110° at Dodson on June 20th), Mississippi (111° at Greenwood on June 20th), Missouri (112° at Doniphan on June 20th), Nebraska (114° at Franklin on June 26th), and Tennessee (110° at Etowah on June 29th). A total of 8 states and all these monthly records are still standing.
By July the dome of heat locked in place over the central and northern Great Plains and remained there for the entire month.
Around July 8-10 the ridge briefly extended all the way to the East Coast when virtually every absolute maximum temperature record was broken from Virginia to New York. This held true for most sites in the Ohio Valley, Upper Midwest, and Great Plains as well. There are so many superlatives that it is impossible to list them all. In short the following states broke or tied their all-time maximum temperatures that July:
Add to the above list a 120° reading at Gann Valley, South Dakota on July 5th. Unfortunately I am unable to update the table with this record since it would involve rewriting and posting the table (not an easy task!). Sorry for the omission!
Some of the many major cities to record their all-time maximum temperatures during July 1936 included:
On July 15th the average high temperature for all 113 weather stations in Iowa measured 108.7°. Similar to the current heat wave the nighttime low temperatures were also remarkably warm. Bismarck recorded a low of just 83° on July 11th. Milwaukee, Wisconsin endured five consecutive nights above 80° from July 8-13. Even near the normally cool shores of Lake Erie amazing temperatures were recorded such as the low of 85° and high of 110° at Corry, Pennsylvania on July 14th. And most amazing of all was the low of 91° at Lincoln, Nebraska on the night of July 24-25th warming to an all-time record of 115° on the 25th.
Residents of Lincoln, Nebraska spend the night on the lawn of the state capital on July 25, 1936. The temperature that night never fell below 91°, perhaps the warmest night ever recorded anywhere in the United States outside of the desert Southwest. Photo from the Nebraska State Historical Society.
By August the heat dome shifted a bit further south from its position over the northern Plains and became anchored over the southern Plains.
More all-time state records were broken or tied:
Oklahoma City also broke its all-time heat record with a high of 113° on August 11th as did Kansas City also with 113° on August 14th and Wichita with 114° on the 12th. The list just goes on and on.
All in all, nothing like this heat wave has before or since occurred. It is hard to believe how people fared without air-conditioning, although there were some rudimentary forms of such:
When the temperature peaked at an all-time high of 108° in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the want-ad staff at the 'St. Paul Daily News' was provided with 400 pounds of ice and two electric fans to cool the air in the press room. Photo from the Minnesota Historical Society.
The only saving grace was that, unlike the current heat wave, humidities were low as a result of the ongoing and prolonged drought which had been affecting almost all of the central part of the country for several years come the summer of 1936. This is also probably one of the reasons that such anomalous extreme high temperatures were recorded.
Seventeen states broke or equaled their all-time record absolute maximum temperatures during the summer of 1936 (still standing records).
Below is a map reproduced from my book Extreme Weather: A Guide and Record Book that summarizes some of the records broken during the summer of 1936:
The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.
Timeline: The May 22, 2011 Joplin tornado
The events of May 22, 2011 scarred Joplin, Mo. physically and took an unimaginable emotional toll on its people. As the community marks the progress five year's later, here is a look back at how the storm played out.
"The Joplin tornado is the deadliest single tornado since modern recordkeeping began in 1950 and is ranked as the 7th deadliest in U.S. history." -- National Weather Service
The National Weather Service (NWS) Storm Prediction Center highlighted southwest Missouri for the potential for severe weather several days prior to Sunday's storm. It had also issued a tornado watch more than four hours in advance of the tornado touching down.
TIMELINE (Source: National Weather Service)
5:11 p.m. Initial 3 minute siren alert sounded for Jasper County and Joplin.
5:17 p.m. The NWS Springfield, Mo., Weather Forecast Office issued a tornado warning with 17 minutes of lead time for touchdown and 19 minutes lead time before the tornado entered Joplin.
5:34 p.m. Approximate initial Tornado touchdown is about half a mile southwest of JJ Highway and Newton Road (southwest of Joplin City limits).
5:41 p.m. The local storm report stated: “NUMEROUS REPORTS OF TORNADO ON THE GROUND WEST OF JOPLIN AND POWER FLASHES.”
The EF-5 Joplin tornado had winds in excess of 200 mph, was nearly a mile wide, and had a track lasting six miles. It left an estimated 161 people dead and damaged some 8,000 structures.
7:30 p.m. A first report of confirmed dead comes in, estimated at 24 people. Communications are difficult with power lines and phone lines down from the storm. Interstate 44 is closed due to overturned tractor trailers. (Source: helpjoplin.com)
Click on the icons to see structures and landmarks damaged or destroyed on May 22, 2011
National Apple Pie Day timeline
Pies don’t contain any sugar and the pastry shell is not generally eaten but serves more as a container for the pie’s contents.
English poet Robert Greene praises a lady with a piece of prose called “Arcadia,” in which he writes, “Their breath is like the steame of apple-pyes.”
With the main difference being the addition of eggs, Marlborough pudding and apple pudding are very similar to apple pie.
Amelia Simmons’ cookbook “The American Cookery” includes two recipes for apple pie.
Throughout our history, religious leaders and organizations have claimed that their holy books provide accurate prophecies about the End Of The World. The examples shown in this video are (relatively) fringe organizations, but despite their overt activism and cult-like behavior, organizations like FamilyRadio.com provide a glimpse into what the more mainstream religions adhere to and believe.
Pastors, priests, apologists, ministers, religious philosophers and leaders of every kind, from every generation, have quoted from the books of Daniel and Revelation about the End of Days. Are their claims any less ridiculous? And should they be held any less accountable?
First, Harold Camping is a good reason why our schools need to do a better job teaching mathematics.
Second, how does Harold Camping know that god hasn't already raptured his true believers, leaving him and his pals behind, along with all of us non-believing hedonists and failed religious people?
Third, what happened to Earth's date with divine destiny on 21 December 2012? Or was that Hollywood film wrong?
May 13, 1637: Cardinal Richelieu Makes His Point
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1637: Perhaps weary of watching dinner guests picking their teeth with the points of their daggers, Cardinal Richelieu orders the blades of his dinnerware to be ground down and rounded off. Et voilà, the modern dinner knife is born.
Prior to Richelieu's flash of inspiration (or simple revulsion at bad manners), diners typically used hunting daggers to spear their morsels, which were then conveyed to the mouth by hand or with the help of a spoon. The fork, the implement that really revolutionized chowing down, had existed since biblical times. Despite its utility, however, the fork remained a relative rarity in the West until the 17th century, even among the French royals whom Richelieu served with unswerving devotion.
Richelieu's knives became the rage among the court, and soon everyone who was anyone in France had a set. The dinner knife became commonplace throughout France after Louis XIV -- who, like most kings, had his own reasons for not wanting sharp blades and pointed tips around -- decreed its universality. Soon afterward, the dinner knife found its way throughout continental Europe to England and, eventually, the American colonies.
It's fitting that the table knife helped refine table manners at the French court. If the French didn't invent good manners (and they didn't: the ancient Egyptians instituted a code of behavior during the Fifth Dynasty), they at least gave the world étiquette, the 5-franc word that's synonymous with refined behavior.
Cardinal Richelieu, of course, was more than a simple cutler. As Louis XIII's chief minister, he was no stranger to using sharp implements to influence geopolitical events.
His policies transformed France into a powerful state, bringing it into direct conflict with the House of Hapsburg and the Holy Roman emperors. Allying Catholic France with the Protestant Swedes in the Thirty Years' War, Richelieu looked on as sword-wielding mercenaries laid waste the tiny neighboring German states, helping fuel the grudges that set the stage for modern European history.
May Day: America's traditional, radical, complicated holiday, Part 1
Although England's May Day celebrations suffered a slight setback when Parliament temporarily banned maypoles during the English Civil War, the holiday returned in full force with the restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660. Still, May Day initially received a chilly reception in colonial America. Puritan colonists in New England frowned on the spring holiday and its maypole, criticizing the latter as thinly veiled form of idolatry. When the Anglican merchant Thomas Morton erected a maypole on Merry Mount plantation in 1627, officials from the neighboring Puritan town broke up the celebration, chopped down the pole, and promptly sent the merchant back to England. Morton described his May Day accident in his 1637 book, the New English Canaan, and the story later became the inspiration for Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story The May-Pole of Merry Mount.
May Day might have remained an obscure holiday in the United States if not for the work of two very different groups of reformers in the late 1800s, both of whom were concerned about the welfare of America's working classes. The first group were social reformers plucked from the nation's wealthiest and most powerful families, a group that historian David Glassberg memorably describes as the nation's "genteel intellectuals."
In the late 1800s, migrants and immigrants from around the world were flocking to U.S. cities to find jobs in the nation's booming industries from their vantage point at the top of the social ladder, America's genteel intellectuals looked down at these teeming masses with trepidation. Many feared that workers, exhausted as they were from factory work and the stresses of urban life, would fall victim to the cheap commercial amusements of the day&mdashcarnivals, penny arcades, and amusement parks, entertainments that (so the argument went) stimulated the body but did little to educate the mind or instill "traditional" American values.
For wealthy reformers, the solution was to give workers more opportunities for wholesome play, particularly play that was steeped in the nation's white Anglo-Saxon past. May Day, after languishing in the background of the American psyche for centuries, stood out as an ideal candidate for a revival. The resurgence of May Day traditions began in the 1870s on women's college campuses, where the children of wealthy families donned white outfits, danced traditional folk dances and, in many cases, performed dramatic retellings of the story of Thomas Morton and his doomed maypole. To popularize May Day among the masses, wealthy reformers also introduced the traditions of "a-maying" to American schoolchildren. Generations of students in public and private schools, many of whom came from immigrant families, were taught to gather flowers and dance around the maypole on the first of May.
Click this link to continue to part two in the series. Learn how a contemporaneous group of reformers &mdashlabor leaders&mdash tried to redefine May 1 as a holiday where America&rsquos workers could agitate for better treatment and working conditions.
Jordan Grant is a New Media assistant working with the American Enterprise exhibition, located in the Mars Hall of American Business.