“…branding on my forehead: SLAVE”

I’ve finished reading the book Bruce Levine’s book “The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South”. It’s excellent. I find it especially curious how the plantation-slaveowner elite reacted to the war. It was a war waged on their behalf, a war waged so that they could continue owning slaves. But after the first few months to a year, they could not be bothered to do much to support the war effort, something that some Confederates themselves found rather odd.

They exempted their sons from the military draft with the “Twenty Negro Law”, they were not willing to grow much grain or sell it at low prices, and they were not very willing to hire out their slaves for tasks like building fortifications. The poorer Confederate citizens ended up grumbling that they were fighting for people who were clearly not doing as much as they could. “A rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.” That sentiment was especially strong in parts of the South with relatively few slaves. Western Virginians succeeded in seceding from their state, but eastern Tennesseeans’ attempt to do so was crushed by the Confederate Army.

Consider the case of South Carolina plantation owner, politician, and slavery defender James Henry Hammond. He argued that the slaves were very suited for doing the work that they were made to do, that they were better off enslaved than free, and that higher civilization rests on the labors of an underclass of people that never get much for their labor — the “mudsill theory” of society. But when a Confederate army officer stopped by to requisition some grain, he tore up the requisition order, tossed it out a window, and wrote about it that it compensated him too little, and that it was like

branding on my forehead

SLAVE

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Transgender-Identity Infographic

I have composed an infographic that depicts my understanding of transgender identity and what I think is a mistake that some transpeople make. It is after the fold for brevity in the main page.

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Ireland moves toward legalizing abortion

Republic votes to remove constitutional ban on abortion by resounding two-thirds majority — 66% of the vote.

These people repealed the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, a part of it that forbade abortion. But abortion is still not legal yet. The Irish legislature will have to pass a law legalizing it. But it is a step forward, and a sign of the weakening power of the Catholic Church in that nation.

As I mentioned earlier, early in 1879, a certain Anne Purcell decides that having five children is enough. So she gets an abortion. Here is who she would have aborted:

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Look Who Would Be Aborted: Who’s Who

In “Look Who Would Be Aborted”, I posted a list of women who could have have gotten abortions at some time. In this post, I will list who would have gotten aborted. I selected people that many anti-abortionists would consider great villains, so as to pose a very awkward dilemma for them. But before that, one more:

Early in 1879, Anne Purcell decides that having five children is enough. So she gets an abortion.

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Look Who Would Be Aborted!

Jim Bakker: God Gave Us Scientists to Cure Cancer, But They “Were Aborted” – Friendly Atheist

“I believe America is cursed if we keep murdering our babies,” Bakker said. “I believe we are doomed as a nation — whatever you think, I don’t care, because I believe God says, ‘Thou shall not kill.’ And to murder our unborn babies, I don’t believe God can look [the other way].”

“This program could be an important cog to stop abortion in this country,” he added. “The thing we have done in America, we have killed our babies. We have killed the future of America. I told you the other day about a story, someone said they asked God, ‘Why haven’t we had a cure for cancer?’ And He said back, ‘I gave you two scientists that had the cure and both of them were aborted.’”

That is a version of the Great Beethoven fallacy – RationalWiki, referring to the possible abortion of classical-music composer Ludwig van Beethoven.

However, if a good person can be aborted, then a bad person can also be aborted. After the fold is some examples of that.

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Happy Yule, everybody!

Happy Yule! Or Christmas or Hanukkah or Saturnalia or Hanukkah or HumanLight or Kwanzaa or Festivus or whatever you might to celebrate around this time.

Yule is from the old-time Germanic name for celebrations at this time of year, a name that Scandinavians still use. I don’t have a Yule log to burn, but with the help of wiktionary.org, I’ve composed some proto-Germanic, spoken some 2000 – 2500 years ago in what is now northern Germany and southern Scandinavia:

Gôdan Yehulan! Gôdô sunnôn-standingô! Hampan allaimaz mannumaz — allaimaz gumammaz andi kwenômaz.

Good Yule! Good sun-standing (solstice). Happiness to all people — to all men and women.

Solstice: the word is a borrowing from Old French solstice, in turn from Latin solstitium, “sun-standing”

Why celebrate at this time of year? Because in the northern hemisphere, the Sun seems like it is returning from having gone southward. Why lights? Because light is what the northern hemisphere is short of. Why evergreen trees? Because they seem like they are still alive. The traditional song “O Tannenbaum” / “O Christmas Tree” celebrates how that tree does not seem to die, as many other trees seem to.

As I’d noted in <a href=”https://nexuszine.wordpress.com/2010/12/26/the-reason-for-the-season-7000-years-ago/&#8221; title=”The Reason for the Season 7000 Years Ago”>The Reason for the Season 7000 Years Ago</a>, people have been marking out the solstices for centuries before Jesus Christ was born, and centuries before the first record of his ethnicity.

Sixty Years after Sputnik

On 4 October 1957, the Russians launched Sputnik 1 (“Satellite 1”) into orbit. Its full name was Prosteyshiy Sputnik 1, “Elementary Satellite 1”.

It was 58 cm / 23 in across, about the size of a beach ball, and it weighed 83.6 kg / 184 lb. It had four antennas sticking out of it, and a battery-powered radio transmitter with power 1 watt.

It went into orbit atop a modified R-7 ICBM, going into low Earth orbit: 215 km / 134 mi by 939 km / 583 mi with a period of 96.2 minutes.

It transmitted for 21 days, until 26 October 1957, and it stayed in orbit until it burned up in the atmosphere on 4 January 1958.

Its broadcasts, an endlessly repeated beep, were picked up all over the world by amateur radio operators, though the satellite itself was only borderline visible without a telescope.

It wasn’t much, but it was startling. Large numbers of people watched this first artificial satellite and also listened to it. Many Americans came to believe that their nation was getting behind in the Cold War, since the Russians could now send their nuclear bombs to anywhere in the world in less than an hour.

It also did not help that the Russians successfully launched a second satellite a month later, on 3 November 1957. It carried a passenger, the dog Laika, though that dog soon died. It certainly did not help that the US’s attempt to launch a satellite into orbit on 6 December 1957 was a spectacular failure. But the US succeeded in doing so on 31 January 1958.

However, President Eisenhower and his aides stayed cool. They were following the Russians’ rocketry developments with pictures taken from U-2 spyplanes that flew high above the Soviet Union. So they were not very surprised when the Soviet Union got a satellite into orbit.

I’ve even seen the theory that Eisenhower had a reason for liking the Russians going first. He wanted to establish a principle of international law, that outer space is like international waters rather than sovereign territory, like airspace. He was concerned that if the US went first, the Russians would consider a US satellite flying over their territory to be a violation of their sovereignty, just like a US spyplane doing so. So when Sputnik 1 traveled over US territory, he decided to accept it.

The US increased funding for scientific research, adding to the National Science Foundation’s funding and starting the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA, now DARPA with Defense in front), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The US also made efforts to improve education, with its National Defense Education Act.

The “New Math” also came out of that period, but it was an abysmal flop. It introduced a lot of abstraction far too early, IMO. Though mathematicians love abstraction, non-mathematicians often find it difficult, and math curricula should be designed with that in mind.

The US has faced challenges that some people have compared to Sputnik, like Japan in the 1980’s, but those challenges did not present the visceral level of threat that Sputnik did. Sputnik was a demonstration that the Soviet Union could send nuclear bombs to anywhere in the US in half an hour. Japan did not pose nearly that level of threat. It was at most “We will dig your graves” rather than “we will destroy you”, those two interpretations of Nikita Khrushchev’s “We will bury you”.