Skip to content

Prof. Boerner's Explorations

Thoughts and Essays that explore the world of Technology, Computers, Photography, History and Family.

Archive

Archive for February, 2011
Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhoto_thumb[2]Science is on a continuing quest to explain the mechanisms that make the the world run. This applies to both the physical and biological worlds. One of these quest was successfully explained in the the mid-20th century at Cambridge University in England. Two researchers, James Watson and Francis Crick, who were trying to understand how genetic information was was transferred from parents to their offspring. They knew that DNA was involved, but the mechanism by which it was accomplished.

Using data from X-ray defraction studies of isolated strands of this DNA in the labs at King’s College, London, to develop a model of this complex molecule. The breakthrough came when they hypothesized a pair of helix structures that combined via some definable chemical bonds. The resulting double helix structure enabled biologists to explain how genetic material from each parent could recombine to reproduce to yield a range of physical characteristics.

TrinityCollegeCamGreatCourt_thumb[10]

I remember being assigned to read a number of books during my first semester in graduate school. One of the books was Watson’s “The Double Helix” the followed this discovery. It was fascinating reading! In 1962, Watson, Crick, and Wilkins received the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine for this discovery of the Double Helix; another collaborator, Rosalind Franklin, would have been a party of this award if she were still alive. This is but one of the findings that makes the history of science so fascinating.

But, now is the time to move on to the exploration of today’s topic…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4117 Words ]

   

Quotations Related to DNA:

    

“If you can write DNA, you’re no longer limited to ‘what is’ but to what you could make.”
— Drew Endy

“The O.J. Simpson case, they had no understanding of that DNA evidence, and didn’t want to.”
— Joseph Wambaugh

“It was very interesting for me because DNA made music without much technical knowledge at all.”
— Arto Lindsay

continue reading…

Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoThe high point of the New Orleans’ social calendar is Mardi Gras which is held on the last day before the start of Lent each year. This is an excuse to stroll along the streets of the French Quarter, especially down Bourbon Street. Ones joins other revelers who wear special masks and dress outrageously. And then there are the floats sponsored by the various Krewe social clubs. Special beads are tossed to the crowd, often after the flashing of female “assets”!

This Mardi Gras celebration evolved as part of the religious observation of the Catholic Church leading up to Holy Week. This celebration is found around the world with the most notable ones located in Nice, France, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and New Orleans, Louisiana. This celebration may be called Carnival instead of Mardi Gras and the first celebration in the United States was held in 1703 in Mobile, Alabama; New Orleans first observed this in 1827.

SpanishKreweTLH

While I have not been in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, I was there on Halloween night several years ago. Halloween evening is the second biggest celebration compared to Mardi Gras. I can tell you that it is wild, really wild. The attire, behaviors, and general level of carefreeness I have not seen before. Given this experience, I can only imagine the level of “debauchery” on Mardi Gras! Whether the participants in this celebration observe the abstinences of Lent or not cannot be readily determined, but celebrate they do.

So let’s jump into the exploration of this event without any further delay…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4216 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to MARDI GRAS:

    

“Even if they had it in the streets, I wouldn’t go.” [On Mardi Gras] 
— Samuel Goldwyn

“This is good. It brings back the Mardi Gras spirit.”
— David Spears

“Just wait ’til we get the Mardi Gras music going.”
— Annie Lewis

continue reading…

Edited by Gerald Boerner

    

Commentary:

JerryPhotoWe explore one of the “secret” maneuvers of the Germans during World War I. Woodrow Wilson, our President during  this war, attempted to keep the U.S. out of the conflict. The Legislature, especially the Senate, took a strong position against involvement. But in 1917 two events led to our declaration of war against the German Axis. The first of these was the sinking of the HMS Lusitania in Germany’s “unrestricted” submarine warfare against the Allies and their ships. The second was the Zimmermann Telegram.

The Zimmermann Telegram was a communication from Arthur Zimmermann, the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the German Empire, to the German Ambassador in Mexico via the German Ambassador in Washington, D.C. This was an encrypted message that the Royal code breakers in London broke. The essential message was to try to get the Mexican government to enter an Alliance with Germany to break the embargo that the Allies had set up and fight the U.S., if necessary. In exchange for doing so, the Germans would provide support for their efforts and return the stated of New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas to Mexico.

Doomed_Lusitania

Mexico rejected this offer because it would not be in Mexico’s national interests. It would likely trigger another war with the U.S. which Mexico would not win. Plus the aid offered would not be sufficient. But the discovery of this communiqué led to a major diplomatic  embarrassment for Germany. Zimmermann resigned his post and the Germans plans for expanded submarine warfare was revealed. So Germany was the big loser and Mexico acted wisely.

But its time to proceed with our exploration of this event…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 3945 Words ]

   

Quotations Related to WOODROW WILSON:

    

“Prosperity is necessarily the first theme of a political campaign.”
— Woodrow Wilson

“The American Revolution was a beginning, not a consummation.”
— Woodrow Wilson

“The history of liberty is a history of resistance.”
— Woodrow Wilson

continue reading…

Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoJ.P. Morgan, like the other so-called “Robber Barons” of the early 1900s, established and controlled one of the major industries that produced one of the components of our industrialized society — steel. But it went beyond just steel; it came to the control of the raw products, iron ore and coal. And then came the control of the railroads the moved these raw products to the steel-making plants in the north.

His company, U.S..Steel, resulted from the merger of several smaller companies, thus reducing competition. Through this process, Morgan created the first company valued at one billion U.S. dollars. His success in business made him a target of President Teddy Roosevelt’s “Trust Busting” crusade. The net effect was the break-up of U.S. Steel into more competitive units.

VysokePece1

Another area in which J.P. Morgan became involved was the banking sector. With his large profits, he started to invest in the banks. However, the lack of a National Bank, the previous National Bank’s charter was allowed to expire by Andrew Jackson, provided a lack of stability in the banking system. This resulted in the Panic of 1907. Morgan then pushed for the creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1913 to regulate the industry. Since a majority of the commission that designed the Fed were supporters of J.P. Morgan’s philosophy, the system worked well until recently. But that’s the subject for a future exploration.

So, let’s get to our exploration of J.P. Morgan and U.S. Steel…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 3720 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to J.P. Morgan:

    

“If you have to ask how much it costs, you can’t afford it.”
— J. P. Morgan

“Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see farther.”
— J. P. Morgan

“When you expect things to happen – strangely enough – they do happen.”
— J. P. Morgan

continue reading…

Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoYesterday we explored the circumstances under which the Battle of the Alamo was fought. It was the opening skirmish in the war for an independent Republic of Texas. After Mexico became an independent country and free fron the Spanish new world empire, it defined new state boundaries; Tejas was combined with the territory of Coahuila. The capitol of this state was located in Saltillo, about 500 miles from the center of Texas decision-making, San Antonio. This made Texas essentially the “step-sister” of Coahuila.

The Mexican assault against the rebellious Texians was led by Mexico’s President – Dictator, Santa Anna. The Texians were led by Sam Houston who sent William Travis, Jim Bowie, and Davy Crockett to lead the resistance in the Alamo Mission on the outskirts of San Antonio. Most of the troops assigned to protect the mission were lost in that 13 day battle. But Houston would rally another force that defeated Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto.

Fall-of-the-alamo-gentilz_1844

What can we learn from these brave frontiersmen who tamed the wilds of Texas, won its independence from Mexico, formed the Republic of Texas before becoming part of the the United States? We learn that men with a quest for freedom can tame a wild land and create a civil society, consistent with John Locke and our Founding Fathers. We need to study the passions upon which our country was founded and apply them to our political polarities that are crippling our government today.

Let’s proceed in our exploration of the combatants involved in the Battle of the Alamo…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4234 Words ]

   

Quotations Related to SAM HOUSTON:

    

“Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may.”
— Sam Houston

“Whether his policy was right or wrong, he built up the glory of the nation.”
— Sam Houston

“A leader is someone who helps improve the lives of other people or improve the system they live under.”
— Sam Houston

continue reading…

Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoIn 1836, less than 200 settlers from the U. S. in the Mexican area of Texas faced a force of 1500 soldiers under the direction of President Santa Anna. This stand took place in the Alamo Mission outside of today’s San Antonio. over a thirteen day period, the brave American expatriates held off the larger force of soldiers valiantly before being overrun and going down to defeat; all but a small group of women and children were killed, including Jim Bowie, Davy Crocket, and William Travis.

Santa Anna’s forces were eventually defeated at the Battle of San Jacinto. Sam Houston and the Texans rallied to the battle cry we remember so well: “Remember the Alamo…”. Texas won their independence from Mexico and created the separate country of the Republic of Texas. It would eventually become a state as part of the great United States of America!

Alamo Memorial-5478

What can we learn from this series of events? The main lesson is that a dedicated, brave group of patriots can stand successfully against a larger, well-armed opponent. We saw this repeatedly during World War II, and we remember the names of these brave men when we read the names of soldiers who earned the Congressional Metal of Honor. I feel this every time that I visit the Metal of Honor at our local Riverside National Cemetery. These names represent men who gave their all, often including their own lives, during their defense of our freedom.

We have rallied to many battle cries during the life of our country. These include: “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death…”, “Remember the Alamo…”, “Remember the Maine…”, and “Remember Pearl Harbor…”. May we always stand together to defend our liberties!

So let’s explore the Battle of the Alamo…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4645 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to DAVY CROCKETT:

    

“Be always sure you are right – then go ahead.”
— Davy Crockett

“I have always supported measures and principles and not men.”
— Davy Crockett

“I would rather be beaten, and be a man, than to be elected and be a little puppy dog.”
— Davy Crockett

continue reading…

Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoAfter the end of the Revolutionary War, the Treaty of Paris of 1783 gave the new American Nation was given territorial borders occupying most of the land east of the Mississippi River. This included the land that extended from the St. Lawrence River/Great Lakes in North, the Mississippi River on the West, The Atlantic Ocean on the East, and the Spanish territory on the South. The most ambiguous of these borders were those in the South.

From the time of the Spanish conquest of the new world, Spain concentrated its efforts on the lands of the Aztecs and Incas where large hordes of treasures were found. In addition, they took control of the Caribbean islands, especially Cuba. Ponce de Leon had claimed Florida for the King of Spain, but it did not have the gold that was so important to the Spanish. There were half-hearted efforts to start settlement there to keep it out of the hands of both the British and the French. After all, it was a buffer between the gold-rich regions and the lands of these other European powers.

Pinelandshoreline

After the conclusion of the Seven-Years war, or as we know it, the French and Indian War, The Spanish gave West Florida to the British in exchange for Cuba. Later, the Spanish re-established ownership of the territory. In the early years of the United States there were a continuing series of conflicts over where the boundary was between the two countries.

As the French became more established in Louisiana, the Spanish wanted to protect their Texas territory, so they negotiated the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819. This treaty gave the U. S. sovereignty over Spanish lads between the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River. This acquisition led to the statehood for Florida and included the entire Eastern seaboard into our nation.

So, let’s start our exploration of today’s topic…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 3788 Words ]
    

   

Quotations Related to FLORIDA:

    

“If you want to be angry at Gore, be angry at him for not fighting harder in Florida.”
— James Carville

“My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned sixty and that’s the law.”
— Jerry Seinfeld

“I’ve just opened a show in Florida, although I also have many pieces on display around the world.”
— Tony Curtis

continue reading…

Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoTo many in the white middle class, the racial unrest experienced by this country during the 1960s was a holistic movement. But this perception was wrong! Just like there were gradations in the extremist white groups, there were gradations among the black groups. To look at all black activists from a single viewpoint would have been an injustice.

These divergent viewpoints became very clear during the 1965 Watts Riots in south-central LA. My father worked with a number of men who lived in the Watts area; they told my father that they would return home after work and would lock their families in their houses for safety. The more radical groups had taken over the streets.

MLK_and_Malcolm_X_USNWR_cropped

Likewise, the civil rights marches during Martin Luther King, Jr.’s campaigns reflect the same type of amalgam. There were radical white groups that reacted to these marches in the same way that there were radical black groups like the Nation of Islam that wanted to force extreme confrontations rather than employ MLK’s passive resistance. These extremes on both sides sought power, not necessarily progress. When Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam for the more conventional Sunni Muslim beliefs and behaviors, he became a target of the group he had formerly led.

Assassinations occur from the elevated feelings of threat and/or betrayal within or between groups. We can see this in the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and Robert Kennedy during the decade of the 1960s. We need to learn from these ventures into extremism to create a more civil society. Rodney King’s appeal “can’t we all just get along?” becomes a good guiding principle.

So let’s get started on today’s exploration into Malcolm X’s assassination…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4148 Words ]

   

Quotations Related to MALCOLM X:

    

“History is a people’s memory, and without a memory, man is demoted to the lower animals.”
— Malcom X

“You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”
— Malcom X

“I believe in the brotherhood of all men, but I don’t believe in wasting brotherhood on anyone who doesn’t want to practice it with me. Brotherhood is a two-way street.”
— Malcom X

continue reading…

Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoWe examine today the definition of what is constitutional under the U. S. Constitution. Most of these basic issues were decided by the Supreme Court under the leadership of Chief Justice, John Marshall. Marshall received his appointment to the court on the eve of Jefferson’s Presidency. He occupied that role for thirty-four years from 1801 to 1835.

During his leadership, the Court made several decisions that defined the relationship between the States and Federal government, among the three braches of the Federal government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial), and the “Implied Powers” of the U. S. Constitution. Furthermore, the court adopted a Unified Majority Opinion policy that allowed Court rulings to become the definition of legal principles.

Supreme_Court_1998_new

Since then, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has put their “stamp” the decision of the court during their tenure in office. We remember some of the major decisions. The Warren Court handed down the Brown v. Board of Education (1954; Desegregation of schools) and Miranda v. Arizona (1966; Rights of Suspects). The Burger Court handed down Miller v. California (1973; definition of pornography) and United States v. Nixon (1974; President is not above the law). These decisions helped define the legal interpretation of laws and administrative regulations.

So let’s get on with our exploration of today’s topic — the role of the Supreme Court in defining the relationships among governmental units…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4197 Words ]

   

Quotations Related to SUPREME COURT:

    

“A decision by the Supreme Court to subject Guantanamo to judicial review would eliminate these advantage.”
— John Yoo

“Catholicism is a wide tent in terms of political and legal positions. We could have nine Catholics on the Supreme Court and a great deal of diversity toward the law.”
— Cass Sunstein

“Bullying wasn’t okay in elementary school and it isn’t okay now, especially when it comes in the form of a U.S. Supreme Court decision.”
— John Doolittle

continue reading…

Edited by Gerald Boerner

 

Commentary:

JerryPhotoThe winter plight of the Donner Party during that fateful winter of 1846-47 has been relived in movies, on TV, and in print. It is at least of the same order of suffering as that endured by Washington’s troops while in Valley Forge. This large group of emigrants and young men were making their way to a new life in California. They were attracted to the land and opportunities available in this new country.

Little did they know what was coming. While most groups traveled via the traditional route over the Oregon trail to Oregon and then traveled south to Yerba Buena (San Francisco). However, with the extra miles required by the regular Oregon Trail route, an entrepreneur who developed a shortcut from Fort Bridger to Sacramento through the Utah and Nevada deserts before crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountains at Truckee.

Donner_route_map

The group set out via this shortcut without a guide. As they progressed along the route, they confronted one challenge after another. The greatest challenge was probably the early, severe winter weather that blocked their way. One group, lead by James Reed, made it to Sacramento; the organized three separate rescue attempts. A total of 48 members out of the original 87 survived the ordeal.

But, now is the time to explore this fateful group’s journey in their quest of their own manifest destiny…  GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2011 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 4686 Words ]

   

Quotations Related to MIGRATION:

    

“As always on this boulevard, the faces were young, coming annually in an endless migration from every country, every continent, to alight here once in the long journey of their lives.”
— Brian Moore

“We must force the government to stop the bird migration. We must shoot all birds, field all our men and troops… and force migratory birds to stay where they are.”
— Vladimir Zhirinovsky

“Electronic aids, particularly domestic computers, will help the inner migration, the opting out of reality. Reality is no longer going to be the stuff out there, but the stuff inside your head. It’s going to be commercial and nasty at the same time.”
— J. G. Ballard

continue reading…