Yep, home again. Most of you probably know my now from my emails or Facebook, but I was in Israel for the past 8 days or so. “Israel!?!?!” you say. “What a crazy time to go to Israel!” Maybe so. But, when duty calls, one must answer. No, I’m not talking about military duty, but just work. It wasn’t through my regular employer, but I went there to help one of my sons with a business project with which he is engaged. We had about three days where we could do some touristy type of stuff and we took advantage of it.
I am, as most of you know by now, a Christian. This blog isn’t about faith per se, but about what’s going on in my life or the world and a picture that I’ve taken to illustrate some point. While I was in Israel, I shot nearly 1000 pictures, but don’t panic: I’ve no intention of showing them all to you, nor of trying to convert anyone with these pictures. I hope you’ll just enjoy the pictures for the sake of the history or scenery. If you are a person of shared faith with me, you may even get something more out of seeing these pictures.
Today’s photo was shot at the location near the Sea of Galilee where it is said Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Today there is a church there and a Catholic retreat center (the pope has a private apartment there for use whenever he wants to “drop in”). I took this picture as we were making our way back out of the place when I turned to look back for one more glance. But you know what’s funny? I didn’t notice the water splashing on the fountain that you can see in this picture (double click – or maybe triple? – to see it in larger size). I thought it looked cool….and it was a beautiful setting!!!
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: (NOTE: a bit of history, regardless of your position on capital punishment): on this day in 1890, at Auburn Prison in New York, the first execution by electrocution in history was carried out against William Kemmler, who had been convicted of murdering his lover, Matilda Ziegler, with an axe.
Electrocution as a humane means of execution was first suggested in 1881 by Dr. Albert Southwick, a dentist. Southwick had witnessed an elderly drunkard “painlessly” killed after touching the terminals of an electrical generator in Buffalo, New York. In the prevalent form of execution at the time–death by hanging–the condemned were known to hang by their broken necks for up to 30 minutes before succumbing to asphyxiation.
In 1889, New York’s Electrical Execution Law, the first of its kind in the world, went into effect, and Edwin R. Davis, the Auburn Prison electrician, was commissioned to design an electric chair. Closely resembling the modern device, Davis’ chair was fitted with two electrodes, which were composed of metal disks held together with rubber and covered with a damp sponge. The electrodes were to be applied to the criminal’s head and back.
On August 6, 1890, William Kemmler became the first person to be sent to the chair. After he was strapped in, a charge of approximately 700 volts was delivered for only 17 seconds before the current failed. Although witnesses reported smelling burnt clothing and charred flesh, Kemmler was far from dead, and a second shock was prepared. The second charge was 1,030 volts and applied for about two minutes, whereupon smoke was observed coming from the head of Kemmler, who was clearly deceased. An autopsy showed that the electrode attached to his back had burned through to the spine.
Dr. Southwick applauded Kemmler’s execution with the declaration, “We live in a higher civilization from this day on,” while American inventor George Westinghouse, an innovator of the use of electricity, remarked, “They would have done better with an axe.”
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Starfish have no brains. (I know some people who must be starfish in disguise!!!)