Shaken, Stirred, Abraham Lincoln, and the Climate Crisis

Two weeks, three conferences, and thousands of social interactions. It’s good to be home.

Shaken, Yet StirredThat’s how I start off my most recent piece on Hot White Snow. It all started with a full-day conference on the Election of 1864 sponsored by the Lincoln Group of DC. The next day I flew to Vancouver for SETAC, and then after only a couple of days back took off for Gettysburg and the annual Lincoln Forum. Shaken, Yet Stirred relates my need for period recharging during these busy social occasions. Plug me in to an energy source for a while, and I’m all ready to go back into the game.

Climate Crisis Tired of scientists being too technical in describing climate science? The Dake Page reviews a book called The Climate Crisis that attempts to give the basics without all the math. They don’t entirely succeed – it’s still technical enough to not be suitable for non-technical folks – but it is full of color graphics, charts, tables, and photographs documenting every aspect of climate science. Think of it as IPCC-lite.

And then there is Lincoln. We had some great speakers at the Lincoln Group of DC symposium, and two of them also participated in another Lincoln event – the Lincoln Forum held in Gettysburg, PA. I’ll write more about this Forum shortly, but I can report already that I plan to attend next year, and the next, and the next. One cool feature of the Forum is that you’re sure to find more than one Abraham Lincoln wandering the halls. This is my first photo-op with a US President!

Abe and Me

Speaking of the Lincoln Group of DC, please plan to join us on December 16th for a great dinner speaker – Gerard Magliocca. Check back soon for much more…including some upcoming overseas science traveling.

David J. Kent is a lifelong Lincolnophile and is currently working on a book about Abraham Lincoln’s interest in science and technology. He is also the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and an ebook Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time

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Abraham Lincoln and the Election of 1864

In the summer of 1864, the chances of Abraham Lincoln’s reelection looked dim, and he knew it. The election was critical – a Lincoln loss could very well have changed the course of history as the alternative platform was peace at the price of revoking emancipation. The very fact that an election was being held as the country was tearing itself apart was historic.

But Lincoln did win the election. The reasons are many, and the Lincoln Group of DC explored them all on November 8, 2014 – the 150th anniversary to the day – in a full-day symposium “The Election of 1864.”

Thomas Horrocks

An impressive assemblage of Lincoln historians came together to discuss the election. Starting off the day was Thomas Horrocks, Director of the John Hay Library at Brown University. Horrocks recounted the many campaign biographies that helped create a new image for the incumbent president in “The Rail-Splitter as Father Abraham: Campaign Biographies.”

Elizabeth VaronElizabeth Varon, Professor of History at the University of Virginia, then provided some insights on the election from the South in her talk “Catastrophe or Setback? The Election of 1864 in Confederate Eyes.”

 

Jennifer Weber“The Summer of ’64” was a critical time period that significantly impacted the election, said University of Kansas Professor Jennifer Weber, author of Copperheads. Grant’s overland campaign had even die-hard Unionists war weary; Weber explored many reasons how military disasters turned into Union – and Lincoln’s – victories.

 

Jonathan W. WhiteSpeaking of the military, the soldier vote was crucial to Lincoln’s electoral victory in November. Christopher Newport University Professor and historian Jonathan W. White examined voting dynamics that possibly changed the outcome of the election in “Emancipation and the Soldier Vote of 1864.”

 

Michael BurlingameFollowing these great talks was our keynote speaker, noted historian Michael Burlingame, author and editor of numerous books on Abraham Lincoln. In a wide-ranging talk, Burlingame brought us into the opposition Lincoln faced in reelection, including many in his own party. His “Radicals, Abolitionists, and Lincoln’s Reelection” explored the fickleness not just of the public, but of the lawmakers and generals who worked for and against Lincoln.

White, Burlingame, Varon, Weber, Horrocks

But wait, there’s more. All five speakers sat en banc for a panel discussion and took questions from the audience packed into the benches of the E. Barrett Prettyman US District Courthouse. Participation was active and informed, and the panelists were challenged to provide additional information expanding on their topics.

If you missed this historic event, you’re in luck. The entire symposium was captured by C-SPAN and will be airing in its entirety on Friday, November 28, 2014 beginning at 8:00 am (and repeated beginning at 8:00 pm). For more information go to www.c-span.org/history.

I’ll post more about the symposium soon, and be sure to check out the Lincoln Group of DC website for more information on upcoming events. Follow us on Twitter, Like us on Facebook, and Link with us on LinkedIn to keep up to date on events and fast facts about Abraham Lincoln.

David J. Kent is a lifelong Lincolnophile and is currently working on a book about Abraham Lincoln’s interest in science and technology. His most recent article, “Lincoln and the Rule of Three,” was published in the September 2014 issue of The Lincolnian. He is also the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and an ebook Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time

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Of Old Friends and Chinese Climate Deals

A busy week science traveling in Vancouver at the annual SETAC conference, on which I’ll write more soon. Check out the cool grass-covered roof.

Vancouver convention center

The conference may be the only time I see in person many old friends. This year an invite to a special “senior resource group” breakfast got me thinking about how old some of those friends have become. It also made me think how much times have changed. Check out Old Friends, Getting Older on Hot White Snow.

China US flags

Meanwhile, the US and China signed a historic climate change agreement this week during President Obama’s Asian trip. With this pact, both of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitting countries show a commitment to reducing carbon emissions, a much needed step in the fight against man-made climate change. Not surprisingly, the partisan misrepresentation of the agreement back home started before the ink was dry. Read why this is such a big deal on The Dake Page. You can also read this “Fact check” article that corrects the misperceptions.

Tesla book in BN Nov 2014

Friends sent me the above photo of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity on display at Barnes and Noble. Apparently we’re now a science classic alongside Stephen Hawking and Ray Bradbury. This is noteworthy because sales have been so strong that the stores are making every effort to keep it available while copies of this printing last. The third printing will be out in February 2015. Meanwhile, my e-book continues to sell on Amazon – look for some exciting news about Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time to be annnounced shortly.

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Science Traveling Vancouver

I’m in Vancouver for the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry conference. The city is very environmentally aware; even the conference center has grass growing on its roof.

The surrounding mountains are beautiful.

Inside the conference center is a huge planet Earth that rotates so you can see from all sides.

There is much more science in this traveling. I’ll have more on the SETAC meeting during the week. Check out the organization at www.SETAC.org.

Odd Tastes in Art, Climate Change Politics, Abe Lincoln Gets Married (and Reelected)

It’s been another busy week, so here’s a quick roundup from Hot White Snow, The Dake Page, and Science Traveler.

The Death of MaratWhat do Picasso’s “Guernica,” David’s “The Death of Marat,” and Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” have in common? They all were posters hanging on my bedroom wall as a teenager. Yes, I was not a normal child. Read more at “An Odd Taste in Art for a Teen.”

 

IPCC reportTwo big events in climate science occurred this week. The most important one (IPCC’s Synthesis Report) was largely ignored while the least important one (Mid-Term Elections) will be talked about for the next two years. Check out why on The Dake Page.

 

Lincoln MemorialSpeaking of elections, Abraham Lincoln was reelected on November 8th, 1865, and 150 years later we are celebrating this milestone event with our Lincoln Group Symposium this Saturday in downtown DC. Only two days to go – sign up now or you can register at the door.

 

Lincoln and Mary ToddMeanwhile, this week also saw the anniversary of Lincoln’s tempestuous marriage to Mary Todd. The sudden wedding caught everyone by surprise; could have been because Mary had seduced old Abe? And why did Mary refuse to be photographed with her husband? Find out here.

 

Bonus! Sales of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity have remained strong since the second printing went back into Barnes and Noble this summer. More than 25,000 copies have been sold so far, and the publisher has ordered a third printing for February 2015. Meanwhile, my e-book continues to sell on Amazon – look for some exciting news about Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time to be annnounced shortly.

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Today is the Wedding Anniversary of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln

Abraham and Mary Todd LincolnOn November 4, 1842, Abraham Lincoln rushed around to his friends and invited them to his one-day’s notice wedding to Mary Todd. The sudden marriage came as a shock to their family and friends, many of whom weren’t aware the couple had resumed their courtship almost two years after the ignominious “fatal first” that ended their prior engagement.

Even Lincoln seemed a bit shell shocked when a week later he wrote to a friend. Mostly a dry letter dealing with legal issues, Lincoln’s last line was “Nothing new here, except my marrying, which to me, is a matter of profound wonder.” Some have argued that Mary seduced him into premarital sex, thus forcing Lincoln into a quick marriage. Friends reported that he went to the altar muttering he was going to hell. In any case, their first son Robert was born on August 1, 1843, a mere 8 months, 3 weeks, and 4 days after the wedding.

As I’ve noted in a prior post, though an odd couple in a ofttimes tempestuous marriage, the two remained together for more than two decades, ending only at the hands of an assassin.

One note about the image used above. It never happened. Lincoln was 6’4″ in height, so the 5’2″ Mary refused to have any photographs taken with her towering husband. Despite many photographs of Lincoln and Mary independently, none appear to exist with the two of them together. She wouldn’t even consent to a photo similar to the image above where he is sitting and she is standing. There are many etchings and paintings done after the fact, but no actual photographs. And then there is this:

AL and MTL

This photograph purporting to show them together is not what it seems. It is actually a cropped closeup of two separate photos, one of him and one of her, that have been cut out, partially reversed, retouched, and rephotographed together along with a photo of the White House. Think of it as the 19th century version of Photoshop. art11026.14576.widea.0Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln

So happy 172nd anniversary to Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. May your memories live on forever.

[BTW, Don’t miss the Lincoln Group Symposium “The Election of 1864,” happening Saturday, November 8, 2014 in Washington D.C. Click here for more information]

David J. Kent is a lifelong Lincolnophile and is currently working on a book about Abraham Lincoln’s interest in science and technology. His most recent article, “Lincoln and the Rule of Three,” was published in the September 2014 issue of The Lincolnian. He is also the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and an ebook Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time

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Last Chance to Join the Election of 1864 Symposium (The Reelection of Abraham Lincoln)

1864-poster.gifAbraham Lincoln was reelected for a second term in 1864, which surprised everyone, including Lincoln. After three years of a brutal war pitting American against American, many people were ready for a change. But “changing horses in the middle of the stream,” as Lincoln once noted, would lead to the destruction of the United States.

Find out why the election was so critical during the Lincoln Group of DC’s full-day symposium on Saturday, November 8, 2014 at the E. Barrett Prettyman District Courthouse in downtown Washington, D.C. Some of the most prominent Lincoln scholars will be explaining just how critical this election was, and how it went from a surefire Lincoln loss to his victory. Featured presenters are:

Michael Burlingame: One of the most respected Lincoln experts in the world, Burlingame holds the Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield. Author and editor of many books on Lincoln, his topic for the symposium is “Radicals, Abolitionists, and Lincoln’s Reelection.”

Thomas Horrocks: Director of special collections and the John Hay Library at Brown University, Horrocks is the author/editor for multiple Lincoln books and will speak on “The Rail Splitter as Father Abraham: Lincoln’s 1864 Campaign Biographies.”

Elizabeth R. Varon is the Langbourne M. Williams Professor of History at the University of Virginia and author of several books, including her latest: Appomattox: Victory, Defeat, and Freedom at the End of the Civil War. Her topic for the symposium is “Catastrophe or Setback? The Election of 1864 in Confederate Eyes.”

Jennifer Weber is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Kansas and specializes in Civil War studies. Her book Copperheads was widely acclaimed. Dr. Weber will speak on “The Summer of ’64.”

Jonathan W. White: Assistant Professor of American Studies at Christopher Newport University and the author of Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln. He will speak on “Emancipation and the Soldier Vote of 1864.”

More details on the speakers and the program can be found on the website of the Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia.

Time is running out so go to the link above to register to attend. You can also register at the door. The symposium is Saturday, November 8, 2014 and runs from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm.

You don’t want to miss this event (or any of the other 150th anniversary events the Lincoln Group has coming up). Join us now!

David J. Kent is a lifelong Lincolnophile and is currently working on a book about Abraham Lincoln’s interest in science and technology. His most recent article, “Lincoln and the Rule of Three,” was published in the September 2014 issue of The Lincolnian. He is also the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and an ebook Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time

Follow me by subscribing by email on the home page.  And feel free to “Like” my Facebook author’s page and connect on LinkedIn.  Share with your friends using the buttons below.

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Happy Halloween, Remembering Vietnam, Chinese Warriors, Climate Denial, and Learning from Peasants

It has been a very busy week, which culminates in a Friday night ghouling spectacular. Starting here on Science Traveler with the Terra Cotta Warriors of Xi’an, China.

Terra cotta warriors Xi'an

Haven’t experienced the terra cotta warriors yet? Now is your chance. Part I introduces you to Xi’an in central China and the thousands of clay warriors, officers, infantry, archers, and even horses that make up one of the most amazing funerary art in the world. Part II delves deeper into the reconstruction of these life-size pieces, along with some surprises about the vibrant colors originally displayed.

VietnamMemorialwall

Meanwhile, Hot White Snow brought out memories of Arthur Hardy, a hometown boy I never met but miss deeply. Hardy was shot down in Laos during the Vietnam War, an event that is still remembered to this day by everyone in our small town. I have a rubbing from the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial (aka, “The Wall”) here in DC. A second rubbing was given by my Mom to his Mom in a very emotional meeting.

5 stages of denial

The Dake Page continues its series exposing climate denialism. Recent  posts include an examination of why climate deniers diss the IPCC, one of many scientific bodies who compile and summarize climate science, and why deniers rely on abusive language to attack scientists and anyone else who acknowledges the science.

learn-from-peasants

The Cultural Revolution sounds like a good thing, right? Not so much, Ru says, as she continues her series on a blog she aptly named Ru… on which she writes about her family history in China. Her latest post looks at how Mao Zedong forced people from cities into the countryside to “learn from the peasants.” This began a decade in which education was considered “bourgeois” and hard labor was the path to the future. Not surprisingly, it didn’t work out as planned.

The Birds

Happy Halloween! By some unnatural glitch in the time-space continuum we’ve somehow made it to the end of October, seemingly skipping over many of the months that usually occur between spring and autumn. Enjoy the foliage while you can as the ghouls and goblins roam the streets in sugar-induced frenzies.

Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity Nikola Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity

 

 

 

 

This past week my 82- and 87-year-old parents flew down for a visit, which among other things included going up into the Washington Monument for the first time (more on that soon). Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity has sold over 25,000 copies so far, with a third printing due out in February. Meanwhile, my e-book continues to sell on Amazon – look for some exciting news about Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time to be annnounced shortly.

Up next is a meeting with a famous author, a Lincoln Group symposium you don’t want to miss on the nation-saving “Election of 1864″ (see Lincoln Group for more details), more travel, more Tesla, more excitement…

More Science Traveler coming soon!

David J. Kent is an avid traveler and is currently working on a book about his experiences traveling in Argentina. He is also the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the e-book Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time.

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The Terra Cotta Warriors of Xi’an – Part II

This is Part II of experiencing the terra cotta warriors of Xi’an. You can read Part I here. Part I highlights the discovery of the warriors and gives some amazing views of the extent of the site. Part II takes a closer look at how the figures have been restored. The largest of the three pits housing these magnificant funerary art forms is mind-boggling in expanse and impressive in the sheer numbers of figures.

Xi'an terra cotta warriors

Getting to this point wasn’t easy. When the corridors were unearthed, most of the figures had been smashed. The painstaking work of reconstruction begins by excavating the spaces and systematically collecting the broken terra cotta shards.

Xi'an terra cotta warriors

From there the pieces are brought to a laboratory area where workers combining the skills of artists, surgeons, and masons carefully rebuild each individual warrior. Supporting pieces, like legs and hands, are solid clay, while the upper bodies and heads are usually hollow for lightness.

Xi'an terra cotta warriors

Almost done, some only have to wait for heads.

Xi'an terra cotta warriors

At a first cursory glance of the reconstructed figures they look exquisitely plain. This is misleading. Originally, the figures were coated in wondrous color, which immediately began to fade to the gray you see now as a result of oxidation and mold when the pits were exposed to the moist air. If you look closely at some of the figures, such as this pair of horses, you can seen hints of what they may have looked like when they were created.

Xi'an terra cotta warriors

Even these don’t do them justice. These fallen (or perhaps resting) warriors show the full range of color that graced the terra cotta. Among the colors are purples composed of barium copper silicate, as well as pink, red, white, and lilac.

Xi'an terra cotta warriors

But still the figures are awe-inspiring. What they have lost in color they retain in sheer numbers and the knowledge of how much effort was involved in creating the thousands of figures. One can’t help but be equally impressed by the effort being made to restore the figures and the site.

Xi’an takes some planning to get to from Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong, but it’s well worth the effort. And if you haven’t already, check out Part I of the terra cotta warriors of Xi’an here.

David J. Kent is an avid traveler and is currently working on a book about his experiences traveling in Argentina. He is also the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and the ebook Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time.

Abraham Lincoln and the Election of 1864

th_LincolnAs the Civil War raged on, things weren’t looking so good for the reelection of Abraham Lincoln. In August 1864 Lincoln asked his entire cabinet to sign the back of what became the “blind memorandum,” essentially a promise to work with whomever wins the November elections to save the Union before the new president would be sworn into office.

 

And yet Lincoln was reelected, by a wide margin in fact. How did this happen?

Find out on the 150th anniversary of that election, on November 8th, 2014 at the E. Barrett Prettyman District Courthouse in Washington, DC. That’s when the Lincoln Group of DC is sponsoring a full day of expert historians examining The Election of 1864.

1864-banner

At the symposium you’ll find out why Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee tried so hard to disrupt the northern elections. You’ll find out how Lincoln prepared for what appeared to be a looming defeat. And you’ll find out what changed all that, from critical military victories to strategic political maneuvering. The result was the reelection of Abraham Lincoln and the saving of the Union.

Join distinguished Lincoln experts Michael Burlingame*, Thomas Horrocks, Elizabeth Varon, Jennifer Weber, and Jonathan W. White as they explore every facet of an election that is without a doubt one of the most important elections in our nation’s history. The very fact that it occurred at all during a Civil War is significant; even more so because a different result would likely have split our nation apart.

It’s not too late to register for the event. Click to go to the Lincoln Group website and join us for what is guaranteed to be a highlight of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Also, Like our Facebook page to keep up to date on Lincoln Group events and information on our sixteenth president.

[*Note: Michael Burlingame has graciously agreed to stand in for our scheduled keynote speaker, Dr. Allen Guelzo, who has had to withdraw for personal reasons. Watch for Dr. Guelzo to join us next March at the Lincoln Inaugural reenactment and gala.]

David J. Kent is a lifelong Lincolnophile and is currently working on a book about Abraham Lincoln’s interest in science and technology. His most recent article, “Lincoln and the Rule of Three,” was published in the September 2014 issue of The Lincolnian. He is also the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity and an ebook Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time.