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Prof. Boerner's Explorations

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


Tag: Harvard University

Edited by Gerald Boerner


Introductory Comments:

JerryPhoto_thumb2_thumb_thumbToday has witnessed some important events through the past 400 years of our country’s history. There was one very significant event, the founding of Harvard College, as the first higher educational institution in our history. There were two events in Astronomy, one in the Arizona desert, as well as attempts of two heads of state, one of which was successful — the assassination of Czar Alexander II of Russia. In the Los Angeles area, this day witnessed the failure of the St. Francis Dam; the subsequent flood killed over 450 souls and wrecked extensive destruction to property and resources for miles ‘downstream.’ On the lighter side, this day saw the creation of the iconic image of Uncle Sam by Frank Henry Bellew. So, let’s take a closer look at these events.


Taking a closer look at some of these events, today is the birth of the first institution of higher education in these American colonies in 1639, only about 30 years after the first permanent colony was established here. The "new college" in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was later renamed Harvard College after the gift of half of Rev. John Harvard’s estate and his library of 400 books. Of course, Harvard University has emerged as one of the premiere academic institutions in this country. It has produced a number of U.S. Presidents, Supreme Court Justices, and notable congressmen. It is the mecca for the crème de la crème for our top students. It was also the college of choice of some of our most famous dropouts (Bill Gates and Mark Zucherberg)!

This day was also significant in the field of astronomy. In 1781, Sir William Herschel thought he had discover a new comet, but instead identified the planet Uranus. More recently, in this country, Clyde Tombaugh discovered the "dwarf planet" Pluto in the far end of our solar system in 1930. Working at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona fulfilled the prediction of Percival Lowell and William Pickering of a "planet X" in orbit beyond Uranus. Such is the way of science — one discovery leads to the prediction of another, but that discovery must wait for the development of the technology to observe that discovery. We saw this in the mapping of the human genome from the observations of genetic mutations by Mendel or the development of the analog or digital computer from the initial conceptualizations of Charles Babbage.

Uncle Sam Want YouThis day also found the attempt to end the reign of two world heads of state. It was successful in Russia in 1881 with the assassination of Czar Alexander II by a anti-czarist revolutionary group. This was the result of attacks on European monarchies in the aftermath of the French Revolution. In this country, Andrew Johnson, the VP who rose to the presidency following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. The attempt to end the presidency of Johnson, in 1868, did not come as a result of an assassination attempt, but through the impeachment process defined in the U.S. Constitution. The radical Republican House voted Articles of Impeachment against Johnson for his anti-civil rights support of the old Southern power lords; the Senate would NOT convict him of these charges and he would complete his term in office. President Bill Clinton was the only other President against whom Articles of Impeachment were approved by the House. The Senate would also fail to convict him of those charges. Ironically, the charges of sexual misconduct brought against Clinton would have hardly raised eyebrows in Andrew Johnson’s day!

On the tragic side of things, on this day, in 1928, we would witness the St. Francis Dam in the Los Angeles foothills collapsing. This disaster would send torrents of water stored in a reservoir near to the present city of Santa Clarita (Magic Mountain); this reservoir was part of the Los Angeles Aqueduct designed by William Mulholland in the early days of the 20th century. The water released at midnight would result in the death of over 450 residents of the wash below the dam. Property damage was also extensive. We have witnessed more recently the collapse of the Baldwin Hills dam in 1963 killing five and destroying 277 homes. When will we learn? In the latter case, especially, the reservoir was built by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power on an earthquake fault line!


To end on a more positive note, this day, in 1852, witness the creation of the iconic image of Uncle Sam by a graphic artist, Frank Henry Bellew. This graphic was published in the New York Lantern newspaper. This image would be enhanced and come to represent the benevolent nature of this nation. In this day of conflict and ideological divisions within our nation, we need to think of the benevolence of our beloved country and the care and safety net provided by its programs…

We now will proceed to examine some of the events that are associated with day in history... GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2012 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 1605 Words ]


Quotations Related to Uncle (Sam):

[ ]


“It’s my firm conviction that when Uncle Sam calls, by God we go, and we do the best that we can.”
— R. Lee Ermey

“Wherever on this planet ideals of personal freedom and dignity apply, there you will find the cultural inheritance of England.”
— Karel Capek

“Right now, I’m worth a million dollars, and I owe Uncle Sam a million-and-a-half dollars, and I made a deal with him. I said, ‘Uncle Sam, I’m going to pay you 25 grand a month.’”
— Robert Blake

“Beware how you trifle with your marvelous inheritance, this great land of ordered liberty, for if we stumble and fall, freedom and civilization everywhere will go down in ruin.”
— Henry Cabot Lodge

“Men always talk about the most important things to perfect strangers. In the perfect stranger we perceive man himself; the image of a God is not disguised by resemblances to an uncle or doubts of wisdom of a mustache.”
— Gilbert K. Chesterton

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Edited by Gerald Boerner


Introductory Comments:

JerryPhoto_thumb2_thumb_thumbToday has been associated with major athletic events, entertainment figures and political figures. It is a day on which several noteworthy events occurred that had an noticeable effect of our present times. Who today would think of watching a film of a press conference? Who would think of a world without women heads of state? Ours is a time of speed and immediacy and the events of this day foreshadowed these times.

Hughes H-1 Racer

As far as the athletic events are concerned, today saw the first bicycle race, Le Tour de France (the Tour de France) in 1903. It is also the day that saw the oldest athletic rivalry start, Brown University vs. Harvard University in Ice Hockey; Brown won that first contest in 1898 by a score of 6-0. More recently, the shot made by a Notre Dame guard went in with less than 30 seconds to go in a game against the John Wooden-led UCLA Bruins; this was the first loss for the Bruins in 88 games, an NCAA Division 1 record.

On this day we also saw Lucille Ball deliver her first son live on TV on the “I Love Lucy” show in 1953. It is also the day that the Hollywood actor, director, industrialist, and aviator, Howard Hughes, set the cross country speed record, covering the distance from Los Angeles to New York City averaging 322 miles per hour in 1937. This broke the previous record set by the famed Aviator, Charles Lindbergh.

This was also the day on which the 18th century Statesman and Orator, Daniel Webster, was born in 1782. He had a significant impact on American politics in the mid-1800s. In 1955, President Dwight D. Eisenhower held the first Presidential Press Conference on live TV; it was also filmed as a precaution of something going wrong. Finally, this day saw the naming Indira Gandhi to be the Prime Minister of India; she was the first woman to hold that position. This is a significant range of events that have had impact on several areas of our lives.

It is interesting looking at the origin of bicycle racing in 1903 in France. Interesting not because it was novel, which it was not, but interesting because of the motivation behind it. The French newspaper, L’Auto, created the Tour de France in order to sell more newspapers. This race would course through most regions of France, which would catch the fancy of Frenchmen everywhere. And once this interest was captured, it was hoped that they would continue to buy the paper to follow the progress of the race. This race is still an exciting and captivating event for us because it represents an extreme, multi-faceted challenge to the cyclists. While the Olympics occur only once every four years, the Tour de France is an annual event.


The selection of Indira Gandhi to be India’s Prime Minister in 1966 marked a milestone for women in that country of poverty. While India obtained its independence from British rule in 1948, it went through an upheaval while carrying out the partitioning of the country to move the Muslims to the Pakistan state and the Hindus to India. Much conflict arose during this process which has continued to the present day. Gandhi was well-prepared for the task, being the daughter of the former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and related to Mahatma Gandhi who was instrumental in obtaining independence for his beloved India. She successfully led the country until she was assassinated by Sikh bodyguards in 1984.

So let’s get on with our overview of the events of January 19th… GLB

These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2012 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved

[ 1146 Words ]


Quotations Related to Indira Gandhi:

[ ]


“People tend to forget their duties but remember their rights.”
— Indira Gandhi

“One must beware of ministers who can do nothing without money, and those who want to do everything with money.”
— Indira Gandhi

“You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose.”
— Indira Gandhi

“There exists no politician in India daring enough to attempt to explain to the masses that cows can be eaten.”
— Indira Gandhi

“There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.”
— Indira Gandhi

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