The Imaginary Realms of
Gilbert M. Stack



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Today in History: The Republican Party Is Born

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 20, 2018 at 4:45 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March 20) in 1854 the Republican Party was organized in the United States in opposition to the Democratic Party. Early Republicans were drawn from anti-slavery advocates, modernizers, ex-Whigs (who had pushed westward expansion during the 1840s but collapsed over the slavery issue), and ex free soilers (a single issue party opposed to the expansion of slavery into the western territories). Their original slogan--free labor, free land, and free men--summed up their early focus on ending the corrupt economic system then dominating the southern economy and southern politics. They successfully burst out onto the national stage with the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency in 1860.

Today in History: Daylight Savings Time

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 19, 2018 at 4:40 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March 19) in 1918, the U.S. Congress established time zones across the United States and began the practicing of adjusting the clocks for Daylight Savings Time. The idea was first proposed by George Hudson in 1895 as a way of maximizing sunlight in the evenings so that industrial workers would be able to enjoy daylight at the end of their workdays.

Today in History: The Hawaii Admission Act

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 18, 2018 at 5:55 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March Eighteen) in 1959 the Hawaii Admission Act was signed by President Eisenhower. The Act followed a referendum in Hawaii on whether to make the islands into a state. Out of a population of 600,000 people, 155,000 were registered to vote and 140,000 voted in favor of statehood.

Today in History: St. Patrick

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 17, 2018 at 5:50 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March 17) sometime in the fifth century, St. Patrick is believed to have died. He was born into a wealthy Romano-British family in Britain, the son of a deacon and the grandson of a priest. (Priests were permitted to get married for the first millennia of Christianity.) At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and sold into slavery in Ireland where over the next six years he learned to speak Gaelic. At the age of 22 he believed that God directed him to flee to the coast where he convinced sailors to return him to Britain, but he didn’t stay there. After becoming a priest, he returned to Ireland where his fluency in the local language made him a much more effective missionary than those who had preceded him. He converted thousands starting a process which eventually drove the druids (i.e. the snakes) out of Ireland.

Today in History: West Point

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 16, 2018 at 5:25 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March 16) in 1802, Thomas Jefferson signed the Military Peace Establishment Act to define the number of officers and military personnel that the United States would maintain in times of peace. The Act was actually driven by Jefferson’s distrust of the military and fear that it was dominated by the Federalist Party and he used it not only to shrink the army but to purge it of the officers he considered to be the most partisan Federalists. The Act also established the Military Academy at West Point to train engineers so that the U.S. military would not be dependent on foreign engineers.

Today in History: A Hero Passes

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 15, 2018 at 4:55 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March 15) in 2009, my father-in-law, Mike Makoe, passed away. He was a very good man who served his country in Vietnam where he was exposed to Agent Orange which eventually killed him. He worked hard his whole life and got a raw deal in the end—lung cancer is a very difficult way to go. Yet even at the worst of times, he had a joke to tell, a story to relate, a little humanity to share. We all miss him.

Today in History: The Cotton Gin

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 14, 2018 at 4:45 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March 14) in 1794 Eli Whitney received a patent for his cotton gin. This invention changed the course of American History because it made growing cotton much more profitable thus increasing the demand for slaves at a time in which many historians believe that slavery was losing its economic viability. Cotton blooms contains thirty to forty sticky seeds which had to be separated from the cotton fiber before they could be turned into cloth. One slave, working by hand, could clean approximately one pound of cotton per day. The cotton gin permitted one person to clean more than fifty pounds of cotton a day. Whitney’s “cotton engine” greatly enhanced the value of cotton farming and the need of slaves to work the cotton fields.

Today in History: Uranus

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 13, 2018 at 4:50 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March 13) in 1872 Sir William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus—except he wasn’t actually the first person to sight it. In 128 BCE Hipparchos included Uranus in his star catalogue and Ptolemy incorporated it from Hipparchos’s work into his own Almagest. In 1690, John Flamsteed observed it six times cataloguing it as 34 Tauri. Pierre Charles Le Monnier observed it at least twelve times between 1750 and 1769. None of these people, however, realized they were looking at a planet. Even Sir William Herschel originally identified it as a comet. It was other astronomers who realized that Herschel’s comet was actually a planet.

Today in History: The Girl Guides

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 12, 2018 at 4:35 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March 12) in 1912 the Girl Guides were founded in the United States. You may know them better as the Girl Scouts. The Girl Guides were a direct response to young girls being prevented from joining the new Boy Scouts organization. The Boy Scouts justified their ban on girl by pointing to cultural expectations of girls in their 1909 manual: “If a girl is not allowed to run, or even hurry, to swim, ride a bike, or raise her arms above her head, how can she become a Scout?” After receiving intense negative publicity for his anti-girl stand, Boy Scouts founder, Robert Baden-Powell, asked his sister, Agnes, to form the Girl Guides to give young women the same opportunities that Boy Scouts gave to young men.

Today in History: Assassination!

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 11, 2018 at 6:00 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March 11) in the year 222, Roman Emperor Elagabalus was assassinated by his own Praetorian Guard (who were charged with keeping him alive). He had been put on the throne through the machinations of his grandmother, Julia Maesa, who arranged the assassination of her nephew to make way for the then 14 year old Elagabalus. Born in Syria and culturally Eastern, he was not a good match for the Romans. He was transgendered and preferred sexual liaisons with men, instead of women (although he did marry five times during his four year reign). Romans were not opposed to homosexuality, but they believed the only “respectable” position in the relationship was as the “active” partner emulating the male in a traditional male/female relationship. Elagabalus enjoyed calling himself the “queen” and the “wife” of his lover, Hierocles, and this was a bit too much for the Romans. Apparently he also enjoyed a game in which he play-acted “prostituting” himself to men passing through the halls of his residence. As his reputation sank his grandmother (the same woman who had put him on the throne four years earlier) arranged his assassination so she could try again with another grandson.