Measure Up?

_MG_8714We humans seem fascinated with measuring things. It wasn’t enough to have a regular clock, we had to devise an atomic clock so we could measure more precisely. It wasn’t enough to know that the moon is some 220,000 miles away, but we had to develop techniques to bounce laser beams off it to know how are it was to within some number of inches (the same is true for GPS systems for us more earth-bound folk).

We want to know what buildings are tallest, what is the heaviest, what is the fastest, and we measure Olympic foot or swimming races down to the hundredths of a second (if not closer). Perhaps that is why the Guinness Book of World Records is so popular – we are obsessed with measuring stuff.

Sometimes that’s good. For example, in fishing, you need to know how long some species of fish are so you know if you can keep one that you caught, or if you have to throw it back. If you get caught with one too small, you can face a hefty fine.

It’s true here in Georgia, too, but it seems that perhaps fishermen here take it not quite so seriously. Imagine if you’re out fishing and catch a bass only to find out that you don’t have a tape measure. How can you know if the fish is large enough to keep? Use your empty beer cans, of course!!!!  Leave it to Bubba to come up with that solution!!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1937,just three days after U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s speech in which he broke diplomatic relations with Germany and warned that war would follow if American interests at sea were again assaulted—a German submarine torpedoed and sank the Anchor Line passenger steamer California off the Irish coast.

The SS California departed New York on January 29 bound for Glasgow, Scotland, with 205 passengers and crew members on board. Eight days later, some 38 miles off the coast of Fastnet Island, Ireland, the ship’s captain, John Henderson, spotted a submarine off his ship’s port side at a little after 9 a.m. and ordered the gunner at the stern of the ship to fire in defense if necessary. Moments later and without warning, the submarine fired two torpedoes at the ship. One of the torpedoes missed, but the second torpedo exploded into the port side of the steamer, killing five people instantly. The explosion of the torpedo was so violent and devastating that the 470-foot, 9,000-ton steamer sank just nine minutes after the attack. Despite desperate S.O.S. calls sent by the crew to ensure the arrival of rescue ships, 38 people drowned after the initial explosion, for a total of 43 dead.

This type of blatant German defiance of Wilson’s warning about the consequences of unrestricted submarine warfare, combined with the subsequent discovery and release of the Zimmermann telegram—an overture made by Germany’s foreign minister to the Mexican government involving a possible Mexican-German alliance in the event of a war between Germany and the U.S.—drove Wilson and the United States to take the final steps towards war. On April 2, Wilson went before Congress to deliver his war message; the formal declaration of U.S. entrance into the First World War came four days later.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: a rumor that Ozti (the Ice Man found frozen solid in the upper Alps and dating back to 3300 BC) still had viable sperm (quick-frozen as if in sperm banks) prompted a number of Austrian women in the 1990’s to ask if they could be artificially inseminated and have his baby.

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