Not Frozen Yet

This morning was the first official freeze in Lexington, but not in my neighborhood. The low temperatures were 41 Monday morning and 37 today; aside from some frost on my windshield, the commute to work was normal. It was mainly the out-of-town areas that froze. The rest of the week should be milder anyway, 60s by day, 40s by night, so no snow just yet.

This morning it was 67 degrees upstairs, 69 on the main floor, and 59 in the basement, so now I’m going to hear the heat running for the next few months, instead of the air conditioning.

On the radio I heard that Americans spend more on Halloween than any other holiday, except for Christmas. Well, count me out. As a member of a church in Florida that has a problem with traditional Christian holidays, why should I observe one that doesn’t even pretend to be anything but pagan? I’ll probably turn off the lights and lay low tomorrow night, so the trick-or-treaters think nobody’s home. If you want an alternative day to observe on October 31, it was on that day in 1517 that Martin Luther started the Reformation by nailing 95 theses to the door of his church. The next day was a big church holiday, All Saints Day, so Luther knew a lot of people would see what he wrote. They certainly did; the theses were in Latin, so I doubt that most of the local folks could read them, but enough folks understood the document for copies of it to appear all over Europe within a few months. Therefore I would say that Luther couldn’t have timed it better. Okay everybody, Happy Reformation Day!

Some Fall Color

For a year I’ve had one of those “smart clocks” that sets its own time when you plug it in. I had a little trouble with it last spring, due to the hours of daylight savings time changing this year. Trouble came again this morning, since it was still programmed to go back an hour on the last Sunday of October, though Congress now extends this violation of nature at least a week into November. Consequently I got up thinking it was 7:30, only to find after I went downstairs that it was 8:30. Let the record show that the perfect machine hasn’t been invented yet!

In history-related news, I read today that a Dutch university believes it has a seal that once belonged to Israel’s most infamous queen, Jezebel. They’re 90% sure, not 100%, because part of the top is missing, and all they could read were the letters “Yzbl.” If the broken-off piece was there, presumably we’d have the rest of the owner’s name. I was interested in the Egyptian symbolism on the seal (the sphinx, the ankh, the cobras, etc.), because I know Egypt and Assyria were competing at the time to be the dominant power over the land between them. Seventy years earlier, the Egyptian king named Shishak in the Bible plundered Jerusalem, and then in 854 B.C., near the end of Ahab & Jezebel’s reign, Ahab led a coalition of twelve kings that defeated an Assyrian invasion at the battle of Karkar. Does this mean that in the superpower struggle of the early iron age, Jezebel took the side of the Egyptians?

Scholar claims ancient seal was Queen Jezebel’s

Finally, today we took a trip into the eastern Kentucky mountains to see some real fall color. Going out on the Mountain Parkway, through the Daniel Boone National Forest, was the easy part. Then I got off near the town of Campton, about 60 miles from Lexington, and followed side roads back by way of Beattyville, Crystal, Ravenna, Irvine, Waco and Richmond. Big mistake; Leive got carsick going up and down on those narrow mountain paths, and when I stopped at a gas station near Irvine, I filled up a gas can for our lawn mower and put it in the trunk, so we had to smell gas fumes the rest of the way back. I wonder how long it will be before we look back on that experience and find it funny?

Leive went shutter-happy on the first leg of the trip and took 172 photos of fall colors on the mountains and trees. We saw mostly yellows and oranges; last year there was more red at this time, but apparently that was delayed by the heat wave we had in September. Here are the ten best pictures from the set. Most of them are self-explanatory:

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Hey, hey, hey, what a lot of hay!

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I suppose any New Englanders reading this won’t be impressed by the pictures, but remember we’re a couple of ex-Floridians. In Florida most of the trees stay green all year round; the ones that do drop their leaves usually wait until December or even January to do so. Are you in the mood for Thanksgiving yet?

Delayed Composition

Boy, what a time I had with those pictures in the previous post! That’s why it took me five days to put them up; I used up all the time I had for this blog on Wednesday and Thursday. It seemed that one out of every three pictures wouldn’t upload properly, though I tried more than once, and I don’t know why that happened. WordPress.com says I have 34 megs left for pictures, but maybe I’ve got too many as is.

This reminds me of an experience I had in 2000, when I was looking for a new home for The Xenophile Historian. One of the places I tried was Fortune City, and there I learned that the more space a free host promises, the worse is the service (Anybody remember how bad Xoom.com was?). It took me two weeks to upload the whole website (it was about 15 megs at the time, compared with 60+ now), because I was on dial-up, and because their FTP tool was unreliable; I couldn’t be sure my files arrived there safely. In fact, Fortune City gave me so many problems that by the time I was finished uploading, I was already looking for — and found — a better place for the website. Altogether I only stayed on Fortune City long enough to leave.

Enough tech talk for now. It has definitely gotten colder this week; 50s and 60s in the day, 40s and 50s at night. We might even get our first frost of the season tomorrow night. I believe Friday is when we started running the heat, instead of air conditioning. It takes a day or two for temperatures inside to mimic those outside; no doubt that inertia is intentional.

The University of Kentucky lost their football game with Florida last week, so today they’re trying to come back with a win against Mississippi state. There is also talk on the local radio about the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants playing in London today, in the first regular season NFL game to be held outside the United States. Why bother introducing foreign sports like soccer here? It looks like the rest of the world is just as willing to try our favorite pastimes.

This is an election year for Kentucky, so we’ll be voting in a week and a half. A handful of state positions on the ballot, with the main one being the gubernatorial race between Republican Ernie Fletcher (the incumbent) and Democrat Steve Beshear. The polls all say Beshear has a double-digit lead, but after a year in Kentucky, I still know almost nothing about the local politics. I probably would vote for Fletcher anyway, since life has been good for me since my arrival, but what decided it for sure was the news that Beshear is for casino gambling. How often does that issue come up in Kentucky? In Florida the casino issue is like the monster from a horror movie; it comes out of the grave to appear on the ballot every 8-10 years, and the voters have to kill it again. Casinos overwhelmingly lost in 1978, 1986 and 1994, and a 2004 proposal to put slot machines in dog racing tracks in two counties passed by a margin of less than 1%. The gambling lobby never seemed to get the message, that they’re unwanted. Let’s hope and pray they do no better here.

The Ashland Estate, Henry Clay’s House

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(Note: To keep the various links in the left-hand margin of this blog, your browser will cut off the right edge of each picture. I guess horizontal scrolling is not permitted here. Click on any picture to see the whole thing.)

I think I told you that before I moved to Lexington, the only thing I knew about the city was that Henry Clay once lived there. I found his house on my very first day in town, and since moving here, have lived no more than four miles away. I even wrote about Mr. Clay at length in the American History paper I finished last February. Thus, I’m surprised that I waited nearly a year and a half to visit the estate.

The house is a three-story brick structure with two wings, located within walking distance of both Richmond Road and the nearest downtown buildings. In its heyday, the Clays also owned six hundred acres of surrounding property, which they used as a successful farm (the guide told me that eleven Kentucky Derby winners can trace their ancestry to horses that were raised by Mr. Clay). What I saw came from several generations, because the original house developed cracks shortly after Mr. Clay’s death, and his sons had to knock it down and rebuild it. It remained their home for three more generations, until the last great-grand-daughter died in 1948. At that time the University of Kentucky bought the place and started turning it into a museum, but some members of the family continued to live upstairs until 1959. Here is where I went in, on the southwest side.

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Here is Ashland Estate from the front. The front faces northwest, toward downtown Lexington.

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And here is the back (southeast) side of the house.

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This is the foyer behind the main entrance. On the left is a mirror that makes it look like there are two halls going in that direction. The fake hall is so realistic that some visitors have bumped into the mirror, so now there’s a bust of Henry Clay blocking the way.

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This “conversation chair” was in the drawing room, along with the piano and some fine couches. Got a couple you’d like to see sitting in it? I nominate Gene and Rezia. After I took the picture I was told by another tourist that no photography is allowed inside, so go to the estate’s website for more indoor pictures.

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The area behind the house is quite large, with many trees, especially ash (hence the name “Ashland”). The locals like to jog and walk their dogs here. You will also find this marker, commemorating a skirmish fought between Union and Confederate troops on this spot, in October 1862.

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There is a nice walled garden near the house. I took several pictures there, for Leive’s benefit.

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I remember lantanas in Florida, but here’s one in Kentucky. It doesn’t seem right for the same kind of plant to grow in both states, the climate is so different. This one would have looked dark red if my flash hadn’t gone off. They also had three citrus trees, (a lemon, a tangerine and an orange) but since they’re in pots, it’s easy to explain how they can grow here.

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Would you believe there’s such a thing as a holly tree? Here’s one.

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Aye yi yi, mushroom people!

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And here’s the gardener’s cottage nearby.

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These two cone-shaped buildings are the most unusual structures I saw. Called ice houses, they are brick-lined pits dug 15-30 feet into the ground, and when they are filled with ice in the winter, it takes months (usually until October) for the ice to melt. These ice houses worked so well that before the invention of the refrigerator, this was almost the only place in Kentucky where you could go to get ice cream. The door next to them leads to a cellar used for storing dairy products, that worked the same way.

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The stairway down into the dairy cellar cellar is treacherous, and there’s not much to see if you take it to the bottom.

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And finally, here’s a look into one of the ice houses. This is a dreary dark hole as well, but to my surprise, there’s just enough light for some ferns to grow in the walls.

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Thank God for Blustery Days

It has been raining almost constantly since Monday afternoon. A low pressure area, loaded with moisture, came out of the Gulf of Mexico, and it’s not passing over us very fast; we’ve got rain in the forecast until Friday, at least. According to the radio, we got three inches of the wet stuff just for today. And the red line on the thermometer is dropping, too. It doesn’t seem right to go to work before the sun comes up, and learn that you’ve just experienced the highest temperature of the day.

Nobody’s complaining, though! After five months of drought, we definitely needed the rain. Now I may actually get to mow the lawn once more before the snow arrives; I don’t think I’ve cut the grass since Labor Day, it has been so dry.

At the mens’ Tuesday night prayer meeting, I ended up sharing what I’ve learned from the Book of Job, and why I believe it’s the oldest part of the Bible, having been written down even before Genesis. It was well received; I also talked about the 1992 discovery of Ubar, the lost city of the Arabs, and how it pinpointed where Job lived–his tomb is a cave near near modern-day Salalah, Oman.

Finally, I shared a column I read today from Mike Adams, a professor in North Carolina, where he told about meeting a former satanist who’s now a believer. The story was inspiring, all right, but it’s remarkable how I found it. It was published at Townhall.com, a conservative political website; normally Mr. Adams talks about outrageous examples of “political correctness” on college campuses. And then I was directed to it by a link from Boortz.com, the website of Neal Boortz. I believe Neal’s a mainstream Lutheran, and if you’ve heard him talk about creationism, homosexuality or abortion, you know he’s no friend of fundamentalist Christianity, but even he liked the story! As he put it: “ Just a good story from Mike Adams. Read it. You need a lift today.”

In 2004 and 2005, I was a participant at AllEmpires.com, an online history club, but I’ve pretty much ignored it since moving to Kentucky, having been busy with so many other things. Yesterday I went by for a look, and in their monthly magazine, I found a really strange quote, supposedly telling the fate of the last American president. Quote:

“‘First they ignore us, then they ridicule us, then they fight us. Then we win.’–Mahatma Gandhi

‘First they fight us, then they ridicule us, then they ignore us. Then we lose.’–James H. Crackerbarrel, last elected President of the U.S.A., February 13, 2021.

Following Crackerbarrel’s capture, all future American Presidents would be selected by the Supreme Court – of China. After two weeks of hiding, the half deranged leader was found by the People’s Liberation Army in the basement of the U.S. Mint, desperately hand-cranking a printing press … a feeble attempt to fill one last wheelbarrow with dollars.

From Democracy’s Dunces, 2000-2050 by Chu-yu Soong.”

Unquote: A Google search also found the quote in what appeared to be a leftist blog, so I’m guessing that’s where AllEmpires.com got it. But why did they reprint it? It didn’t have anything to do with the articles they’re writing. And since I have a thing for anachronisms, where would it look good on my website, if anywhere?

What’s Up With My Websites?

Don’t worry, though it has been another busy year for me, I’m still working on the websites. Still, sometimes it seems the more I upload to the Internet, the more maintenance work I give myself. I still expect to eventually finish papers on the four world regions I haven’t written complete histories about yet (North & South America, Central Asia and the South Pacific), it’s just taking longer than expected, what with all the real-world activities. If you’ve been following along, you know I finished Chapter 3 of my North American history series in February, rewrote Chapter 2 of my Middle Eastern series in spring, and have composed a few essays since then. Behind the scenes, I began working on Chapter 4 of the North American series (Industrial America, 1861-1933) in July, and am still at it; I lost three weeks of work in September when I suffered a hard drive failure on this computer, so it took until recently to recover.  I’m up to page 41 on that paper (in WordPerfect) as I write this.

In other news, I’m laboring to get my textbook published, since I know several readers are waiting for that. Also, I’m planning to launch a new chamber-of-commerce type website for my new hometown, Lexington, KY, in the near future. The link is up for it already, but I’m only in the early stages of construction, so don’t look until I say so. Finally, the Google Ads have been on The Xenophile Historian for thirteen months, but now it looks like I’ll finally make some money on them, now that website traffic is starting to pick up again. To all of you, even those who just came for a peek, thank you for your support.

Some Additional Flower Shots

Yes, this blog has been quiet for the past few days. Leive and I have been doing stuff around the house, but it’s nothing to write about (activating a new cell phone, and so on). This afternoon I finally got around to seeing the Ashland Estate, Henry Clay’s house, so expect to see the pictures from that trip soon.

Today I read an article from the London Times listing what some historians consider the most important dates of the past. I guess historians aren’t supposed to agree, since this isn’t an exact science we’re talking about. I’ll just say I wouldn’t have chosen a lot of the dates listed. For example, they included the date when Shen Nung, the second king in Chinese history, discovered tea (2737 B.C.!). I suppose the discovery of tea is a red-letter date for an Englishmen, but since we don’t know if Shen Nung even existed, I think that’s stretching things a bit. They even included a 1957 A.D. hoax where somebody showed a picture of Swiss spaghetti farmers, preparing to harvest their crop! On the other hand, I didn’t see any mention of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, in 587 or 586 B.C. I’m beginning to think that’s one of the most important events of ancient times, not only because the Jewish diaspora began there, but also because an astonishing number of prophets and philosophers lived on or close to that date (Thales, Pythagoras, Zoroaster, Buddha, Lao-Tzu and Confucius are the most prominent), and because that is when classical Greece really got into gear. Anyway, check it out and see what you think:

The 50 Key Dates of World History

And here’s some pictures Leive wants you to see. First of all, she put some new flower arrangements on the main floor windowsills. As you’re outside, facing the front door of the house, these are on the left.

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(Click on the picture to see both arrangements, the blog format cut off the right margin again.)

Surprise! This pink impatiens wasn’t bothered by the drought; over the summer it sprang up on our doorstep, right behind two of Leive’s “roses.” Unlike all her other flowers in the front yard, the impatiens are real.

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You can compare these pictures with the ones I took of the front yard last May.

Our House, Part I: Outside

Hopefully these will hold you for now. Gotta go to a prayer meeting. Leive’s in a cooking mood today, so we’re going to bring some lumpia Shanghai (all-meat egg rolls). Yummy! 🙂

Fog and Drizzle

We got a little rain each morning for the past three days, definitely welcome after five months of drought. When it hasn’t rained we’ve gotten fog. I noticed a number of mornings with thick fog last fall, so I guess that’s the norm here. Yesterday the fog was so heavy that I could barely see, and went to work by way of the front gate. I’ve been going by way of country roads to the back gate since my current assignment started last month, but that’s the same place where I spun out on the ice last February, so I didn’t want to take a chance.

Our last piece of furniture for the basement, a wooden filing cabinet, finally arrived on Monday. We ordered it last March, and I kept getting letters stating it had been delayed, so I was coming to think we would have to cancel and order from someone else, like we did with the bunk beds last June. The cabinet is also disassembled, so I’m glad this is the last assembly job I’m going to have to do for a while. Next time I’ll probably order elsewhere; this is what Leive and I get for saving some money! (LOL) When the cabinet has been put together, I’ll put up the long-delayed page of basement pictures.

We had this week’s mens’ prayer group in the nearest Barnes & Noble coffee shop, since there were only four of us, and the host of the house where we normally go couldn’t attend. Not a bad change; we need something like that from time to time to keep us from getting in a rut. The pastor will be away next week, and he asked me to do the teaching. I’ve already done Genesis 10 & 11 in the past, so any ideas on what topic I should cover this time?

In response to the question to what I wrote last Sunday, I plan on rooting for the University of Kentucky again, when the Wildcats play the Gators next Saturday. In Florida the rivalry between the University of Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles is so fierce that fans consider the annual match between those teams to be more important than whatever bowl games they go to at the end of the year. It’s not unusual to see a bumper sticker down there that reads, “My two favorite teams are the Seminoles and whoever’s playing the Gators.” Well, my family tended to favor the Seminoles (my brother-in-law went to Florida State), so this is one of those cases where I can apply the Middle East’s principle concerning alliances: the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Southern Quotes

A new section to my smart quotes page.

Southern Quotes

 

The Southern United States is a complicated place. Outsiders tend to lump all Southerners in one group, usually by calling them “Rednecks.” Well, there may be a Southern culture, but there are an awful lot of subcultures right beneath the surface of Dixie. Besides Rednecks, we have Hillbillies, Cajuns, Snowbirds (Yankees in Florida), Cubans, Melungeons, Cowboys (in Texas) and Mexicans. And when it comes to music, the South is home to country, bluegrass, Gospel, blues, zydeco, Elvis, “Southern rock” stars like Greg Allman and Lynyrd Skynyrd, etc.

 

Of course, if you want to get technical about it and define a person by his birthplace, I’m neither a Yankee or a Southerner. I was born on the Pacific coast, in an area Ernest Callenbach and Joel Garreau named “Ecotopia.” However, I’ve spent more than four fifths of my life south of the Mason & Dixon Line, so I think I’ve got as good a chance of understanding the South as anybody. Maybe these quotes will help you understand the South, too.

 

  • “Memphis Martini: Gin with a wad of cotton in it.”–Fred Allen
  • “The summer picnic gave the ladies a chance to show off their baking hands. On the barbeque pit, chickens and spareribs sputtered in their own fat and a sauce whose recipe was guarded in the family like a scandalous affair.”–Maya Angelou
  • “I just got wonderful news from my real estate agent in Florida. They found land on my property.”–Milton Berle
  • “True grits, more grits, fish, grits, and collards. Life is good where grits are swallered.”–Roy Blount, Jr.
  • “I don’t think of myself as a Negro. I’m a Southerner. I just like the Southern way of life.”–Julian Bond
  • “Everyone from the South knows who Jefferson Davis was, and this is one thing that distinguishes the South from other parts of the country.”–William F. Buckley
  • “When the smoke and fire was over, the Negroes had nothing gained, the whites had nothing left, while the jackals have all the booty.”–R. H. Cain
  • “The tragedy of the redneck is that he chose the wrong enemy.”–Will D. Campbell
  • “The friend asked why the Rebel Army had continued to fight when defeat was certain. They were simply afraid to go home and face their women.”–Gordon Cotton
  • “Yes, charisma is the middle name of scads of Southern cads.”–Rosemary Daniel
  • “I’m Southern and I know neurotic behavior.”–Faye Dunaway
  • “Because I was born in the South, I’m a Southerner. If I had been born in the North, the West or the Central Plains, I would be just a human being.”–Clyde Edgerton
  • “Anyone with a lick of sense knows that you can’t make good barbeque and comply with the health code.”–John Edgerton
  • “The past is not dead. It isn’t even past.”–William Faulkner
  • “As long as the Negroes are held down by deprivation and lack of opportunity, the other poor people will be held down alongside them.”–Governor Big Jim Folsom
  • “The Southerner always tended to believe with his blood rather than his intellect.”–Marshall Frady
  • “I love everything about the South; I even love hate.”–Brother Dave Gardner
  • “The South may not always be right, but by God it’s never wrong!”–Brother Dave Gardner
  • “Young feller, you will never appreciate the potentialities of the English language until you have heard a Southern mule driver search the soul of a mule.”–Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
  • “I suggest that the true Southland is that territory within which, when asked by an outsider whether he is a Southerner, the reply almost invariably is “Hell yes!” This “Hell yes” line has the advantage of eliminating the ambivalent wishy washy fringes, and leaving the unquestionably defiant, hard-core Southland.”–Hamilton C. Horton, Jr.
  • “We went across the South on Super Tuesday without a single catcall or boo, without a single ugly sign. Not until we got to New York and the North did the litmus test of race and religion spout from the mouths of public officials.”–Jesse Jackson
  • “Southerners have a genius for psychological alchemy. If something intolerable simply cannot be changed, driven away or shot they will not only tolerate it but take pride in it as well.”–Florence King
  • “I’ve always said that next to Imperial China, the South is the best place in the world to be an old lady.”–Florence King
  • “What you need for breakfast, they say in East Tennessee, is a jug of good corn liquor, a thick steak and a hound dog. Then you feed the steak to the dog.”–Charles Kuralt
  • “I like the South because it is so much warmer on the sidelines than it is up North.”–Coach Tom Landry
  • “Southern women see no contradiction in mixing strength with gentleness.”–Sharon McKern
  • “I didn’t make Arkansas the butt of ridicule. God did.”–H. L. Mencken
  • “Southerners can never resist a losing cause.”–Margaret Mitchell
  • “Next to fried food, the South has suffered most from oratory.”–Walter Hines Page
  • “I know why we lost the Civil War. We must have had the same officials.”–Coach Bum Phillips, on losing the Senior Bowl
  • “When the taste changes with every bite and the last bite tastes as good as the first, that’s Cajun.”–Paul Prudhomme
  • “Southern barbeque is the closet thing we have in the U.S. to Europe’s wines and cheeses; drive a hundred miles and the barbeque changes.”–John Shelton Reed
  • “Every time I look at Atlanta I see what a quarter of a million Confederate soldiers died to prevent.”–John Shelton Reed
  • “The young bloods of the South; sons of planters, lawyers about towns, good billiard players and sportsmen, men who never did any work and never will. War suits them.. They are splendid riders, first rate shots and utterly reckless. These men must all be killed or employed by us before we can hope for peace.”–General William T. Sherman
  • “In the South the war is what A.D. is elsewhere; they date from it.”–Mark Twain
  • “Southerners make such good novelists; they have so many good stories because they have so much family.”–Gore Vidal
  • “Storytelling and copulation are the two chief forms of amusement in the South. They are inexpensive and easy to procure.”–Robert Penn Warren
  • “The remark has been made that in the Civil War the North reaped the victory and the South the glory.”–Richard Weaver
  • “The South is a region that history has happened to.”–Richard Weaver
  • “O magnet-South! O glistening perfumed South! my South! O quick mettle, rich blood, impulse and love! Good and evil! O all dear to me!”–Walt Whitman
  • “I like the South because of the people. They are loyal. Once they love a team, they’re fans forever.”–Dominique Wilkins
  • “The only place in the world that nothing has to be explained to me is the South.”–Woodrow Wilson

 

 

Ten Years in Cyberspace

Judging by what I’m hearing on the news, yesterday’s game was one of the biggest in UK history. After three overtimes, the University of Kentucky Wildcats came back to beat the #1-ranked LSU Tigers, 43-37. The word here is that sports fans will be talking about it for years to come.

This whole neighborhood is decorated by large attractive trees planted alongside the road, which are covered with white blossoms in April. I learned at the time that they’re an ornamental pear tree, called the Bradford pear. We’ve got one in front of our house, next to the mailbox, and last May Leive found a robin nesting in it with two or three babies (no partridge, though). Yesterday I checked to see if it had any fruit on it, and found out why it’s called an ornamental pear. Here you can see the pear I picked; it’s smaller than a dime!

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But now on to the reason why I’m writing. It is now ten years since my household first got Internet access. I don’t know the exact date, just that it happened sometime in early October 1997. At first we didn’t use a computer, but a WebTV box; anybody remember that appliance?

WebTV was nice for surfing the Web, and reading and answering e-mail, but I couldn’t do as much online as someone with a real computer, so ten months later I bought a Compaq with a dial-up modem, and the rest is history. Speaking of history, I started building The Xenophile Historian in December 1997, so for several months I had to go somewhere else, usually to my parent’s house, to upload new files to the website; it’s amazing how much I got done that way, now that I look back.

Back when I was a kid, I remember having a science book entitled “Robots and Electronic Brains,” and on one of the pages, it told how someday it may be possible for two machines to communicate over a telephone line as easily as humans. They illustrated it with a cartoon of two robots holding telephone receivers, enjoying a good conversation. At the time I thought it was a neat idea, but not a big deal. Little did I know how much that concept would change our lives.

In the 1980s, I got my first looks at computer bulletin boards while attending college. On one I remember in particular, the participants were talking about a science fiction novel they had read, “Chapterhouse Dune” by Frank Herbert. I got the impression that they were having a good time. Shortly before I graduated with my Master’s degree, I remember my professor telling about a service he had called Compuserve; I wasn’t sure what it was, but according to him it was a nifty thing to have.

Then in the 1990s, the masses got hold of the Internet; it wasn’t just for computer geeks anymore. At work I was shown a demonstration of it in early 1995; the company network guy tried connecting to some websites, but the connection was so bad we hardly saw anything at all, after watching for half an hour. No wonder they called it the “World Wide Wait.” I think my brother was the first in our family to have Internet access, around 1996. In the same year came a news story about the Internet going down one weekend, over much of the country. They thought it was bad news then, but imagine how it would affect our economy if it happened now!

Finally in 1997 I found out for myself what others were talking about, with http://, gopher, dotcom and all that. Last week I read a column that told what an effect the Internet has had on our lives, “What Hath Google Wrought?” by John Steele Gordon. He told how he was interested in reading Franklin D. Roosevelt’s last inaugural address, given in January 1945. In the past that meant a trip to the library, with no guarantee that he would find such an obscure speech, but now he did a Google search and found the complete text in just 30 seconds! That’s the power of the Information Age for you. As I read that piece, I recalled how as a teenager I made regular trips to the library on my bike, often spending up to two hours in there, but now that the world’s greatest library (cybrary?) is just a mouse-click away, I haven’t been in a real-world library in a few years; I think the last time was to return some books Lindy had borrowed. I know we’re eventually going to need a library to educate the kids we plan on adopting, but I didn’t bother to look for the libraries in Lexington until I had been here for nearly a year.

I heard once that Desiderius Erasmus, the Dutch philosopher, was the last man who ever lived who could have known everything. That is to say, he could have known every piece of knowledge available to somebody in his time and place (Rotterdam, Netherlands, around 1500 A.D.). Since then, knowledge has exploded, starting with the exploration and discovery of the world beyond Europe, and the birth of modern science. Nowadays we hear that the amount of available information doubles every few years; I doubt if anyone today can even hold one percent of it in his head. That’s why when I was a teacher, I devoted two or three days every semester to showing the tricks I learned for finding stuff on the Internet. In 1955 a wise educator said, “An intelligent person is not someone who knows everything, but who knows where to find it!” If it was true then, imagine how much more true it is now.

 

“In the past, you had to memorize knowledge because there was a cost to finding it. Now, what can’t you find in 30 seconds or less? We live an open-book-test life that requires a completely different skill set.”—Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and founder of Broadcast.com & HDNet.

Hmmm, ten years in cyberspace? It does seem longer, in view of all that has happened in the past decade. In Internet time that’s seventy years, right? But seriously, you may want to check out my Internet Milestones PowerPoint presentation, which shows the main events of Internet history from 1945 to 2005. If I update it, I will probably add that Microsoft launched Windows Vista and Internet Explorer 7 in 2007, the first major changes to its software since 2001. Now I’ll return you to your regularly scheduled websurfing.