Monthly Archives: May 2013

Happy Birthday, Big Ben

The famous tower clock known as Big Ben, located at the top of the 320-foot-high St. Stephen’s Tower, rings out over the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London, for the first time on this day in 1859.

After a fire destroyed much of the Palace of Westminster–the headquarters of the British Parliament–in October 1834, a standout feature of the design for the new palace was a large clock atop a tower. The royal astronomer, Sir George Airy, wanted the clock to have pinpoint accuracy, including twice-a-day checks with the Royal Greenwich Observatory. While many clockmakers dismissed this goal as impossible, Airy counted on the help of Edmund Beckett Denison, a formidable barrister known for his expertise in horology, or the science of measuring time.

Denison’s design, built by the company E.J. Dent & Co., was completed in 1854; five years later, St. Stephen’s Tower itself was finished. Weighing in at more than 13 tons, its massive bell was dragged to the tower through the streets of London by a team of 16 horses, to the cheers of onlookers. Once it was installed, Big Ben struck its first chimes on May 31, 1859. Just two months later, however, the heavy striker designed by Denison cracked the bell. Three more years passed before a lighter hammer was added and the clock went into service again. The bell was rotated so that the hammer would strike another surface, but the crack was never repaired.

The name “Big Ben” originally just applied to the bell but later came to refer to the clock itself. Two main stories exist about how Big Ben got its name. Many claim it was named after the famously long-winded Sir Benjamin Hall, the London commissioner of works at the time it was built. Another famous story argues that the bell was named for the popular heavyweight boxer Benjamin Caunt, because it was the largest of its kind.

Even after an incendiary bomb destroyed the chamber of the House of Commons during the Second World War, St. Stephen’s Tower survived, and Big Ben continued to function. Its famously accurate timekeeping is regulated by a stack of coins placed on the clock’s huge pendulum, ensuring a steady movement of the clock hands at all times. At night, all four of the clock’s faces, each one 23 feet across, are illuminated. A light above Big Ben is also lit to let the public know when Parliament is in session.

Redneck Space Shuttle

Redneck Space Shuttle

Lesson in Irony

Today’s lesson in irony

The Food Stamp Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is proud to be distributing this year the greatest number of free Meals and Food Stamps ever to 46 million people.

Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us “Please Do Not Feed the Animals.” Their stated reason for the policy is because “The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.”

Thus, ends today’s lesson in irony.

Happy Birthday, Ian Fleming!

 

Ian Fleming

Ian Lancaster Fleming (May 28, 1908 – August 12, 1964)

Ian Lancaster Fleming  was an English author and journalist, best remembered for writing the James Bond series of novels as well as the children’s story, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Wikipedia Link

Happy Memorial Day!

Flag at Half Mast

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in the military service. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War (it is celebrated near the day of reunification after the civil war), it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action.

It Has Always Been The Soldier

Veteran

A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to his country for an amount of ‘up to and including my life.’

Happy Birthday, Bocephus!

Hank Williams, Jr. is an American country and southern rock artist, son of country music pioneer Hank Williams and father of Hank III and Holly Williams.

Known by the nickname Bocephus (a name given to him by his father because he thought his son as a baby resembled a TV ventriloquist dummy named Bocephus), he was raised by his mother Audrey after his father’s death in 1953. He was destined for fame, being taught how to play piano by Jerry Lee Lewis and guitar by Johnny Cash. He began performing when eight years old.

Hank Williams, Jr.

Hank Williams, Jr. (May 26, 1949 – )

Wikipedia Link

Anniversary of Star Wars

Star Wars

On this day in 1977, Memorial Day weekend opens with an intergalactic bang as the first of George Lucas’ blockbuster Star Wars movies hits American theaters.

Wikipedia Link

Towel Day

Towel Day

Today is Towel Day, a day of remembrance for Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy. Observe it by carrying a towel all day.

Link

Star trails over Jet Star rollercoaster

Stars streak over the Jet Star rollercoaster in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, as it awaits removal from the Atlantic Ocean. Credit and copyright: Jack Fusco.

Stars streak over the Jet Star rollercoaster in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, as it awaits removal from the Atlantic Ocean. Credit and copyright: Jack Fusco.

Sun rising over the Jet Star roller coaster

The sun rises behind Jet Star roller coaster submerged in the Atlantic Ocean near the ruined Casino Pier in Seaside Heights more than one month after Hurricane Sandy destroyed areas of the Jersey Shore. Owners of Casino Pier are in talks to remove what remains of the destroyed attraction. (Video by Andre Malok / The Star-Ledger)

Evolution (Bacon)

Evolution (Bacon)

Dilbert – Idea Squirrel

Dilbert - Idea Squirrel

Brian Urlacher to retire…

After 13 seasons with the Bears, Brian Urlacher is walking off into the sunset:

Brian Urlacher walking away

“After spending a lot of time this spring thinking about my NFL future, I have made a decision to retire,” Urlacher said in a statement he posted on Twitter. “Although I could continue playing, I’m not sure I would bring a level of performance or passion that’s up to my standards. When considering this along with the fact I could retire after a 13-year career wearing only one jersey for such a storied franchise, my decision became pretty clear.”

Brian Urlacher

I watched Brian, and another 54, Tedy Bruschi of the Patriots, for years.  They were two of my favorite players to watch, and I believe every time they walked on the field, play after play, they were giving 110%.

Thanks for years of entertainment.

Politics

Politics

Navy dolphins make amazing discovery

They discovered a rare 19th-century device that is one of only two in existence.

The discovery itself is notable enough: Navy specialists found a rare torpedo off the San Diego coast, an 11-foot brass gem called the Howell that dates back 130 years or so and was one of the first torpedoes to propel itself.

Only 50 were made, and only one other one still exists. But what makes the story even better is that the Navy specialists who found it were trained dolphins, reports the Los Angeles Times.

“Dolphins naturally possess the most sophisticated sonar known to man,” explains a specialist at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific. “We’ve never found anything like this,” says the head of the Navy’s marine mammal program. “Never.”

Give credit to dolphins Ten and Spetz for finding the torpedo, stamped “USN No. 24,” and then directing human divers to the spot.

The torpedo, rendered inoperable by its long stay in the ocean, is now being cleaned and readied for display at the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington.

“It was the first torpedo that could be released into the ocean and follow a track,” says another official at the warfare systems center, and that made it a state-of-the-art weapon in its day.

Offended You Are

Offended You Are

It’s Dangerous To Go Alone!

It's Dangerous To Go Alone

RIP Ronnie James Dio

Ronald James Padavona (July 10, 1942 – May 16, 2010), better known as Ronnie James Dio, was an Italian-American heavy metal vocalist and songwriter. He performed with, amongst others, Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Heaven & Hell, and his own band Dio. He was widely hailed as the most powerful singer in heavy metal, renowned for his consistently powerful voice. He consistently ranks as one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time in various online polls and lists. He is credited with popularizing the “devil horns” hand gesture in metal culture. Prior to his death, he was collaborating on a project with former Black Sabbath bandmates Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Vinny Appice, under the moniker Heaven & Hell, whose first studio album, The Devil You Know, was released on April 28, 2009. Dio died of stomach cancer on May 16, 2010. One of the last songs he recorded was titled “Metal Will Never Die”.

Ronnie James Dio

Ronald James Padavona (July 10, 1942 – May 16, 2010), better known as Ronnie James Dio.

RIP Jim Henson

James Maury Henson (September 24, 1936 – May 16, 1990) was the most widely known American puppeteer in modern American television history.

He was the creator of The Muppets and the leading force behind their long creative run. Henson brought an engaging cast of characters, innovative ideas, and a sense of timing and humor to millions of people. He is also widely acknowledged for the ongoing vision of faith, friendship, magic, and love which was infused in nearly all of his work.

Jim Henson

Statue of Jim Henson and Kermit the Frog, on display outside of Adele H. Stamp Student Union in College Park, Maryland.