Ben Franklin Flies a Kite

On June 15, 1752, Benjamin Franklin may have possibly conducted his famous kite experiment in Philadelphia; successfully extracted sparks from a cloud, although there are theories that suggest he never performed the experiment. Franklin’s experiment was not written up until Joseph Priestley’s 1767 History and Present Status of Electricity; the evidence shows that Franklin was insulated (not in a conducting path, since he would have been in danger of electrocution in the event of a lightning strike). Others, such as Prof. Georg Wilhelm Richmann of Saint Petersburg, Russia, were electrocuted during the months following Franklin’s experiment.

In his writings, Franklin indicates that he was aware of the dangers and offered alternative ways to demonstrate that lightning was electrical, as shown by his use of the concept of electrical ground. If Franklin did perform this experiment, he may not have done it in the way that is often described, flying the kite and waiting to be struck by lightning, as it could have been dangerous. The popular television program MythBusters simulated the alleged “key at the end of a string” Franklin experiment and established with a degree of certainty that, if Franklin had indeed proceeded thus, he would undoubtedly have been killed. Instead he used the kite to collect some electric charge from a storm cloud, which implied that lightning was electrical.

On October 19 in a letter to England explaining directions for repeating the experiment, Franklin wrote:

When rain has wet the kite twine so that it can conduct the electric fire freely, you will find it streams out plentifully from the key at the approach of your knuckle, and with this key a phial, or Leiden jar, maybe charged: and from electric fire thus obtained spirits may be kindled, and all other electric experiments [may be] performed which are usually done by the help of a rubber glass globe or tube; and therefore the sameness of the electrical matter with that of lightening completely demonstrated.

Franklin’s electrical experiments led to his invention of the lightning rod. He noted that conductors with a sharp rather than a smooth point were capable of discharging silently, and at a far greater distance. He surmised that this knowledge could be of use in protecting buildings from lightning by attaching “upright Rods of Iron, made sharp as a Needle and gilt to prevent Rusting, and from the Foot of those Rods a Wire down the outside of the Building into the Ground;…Would not these pointed Rods probably draw the Electrical Fire silently out of a Cloud before it came nigh enough to strike, and thereby secure us from that most sudden and terrible Mischief!” Following a series of experiments on Franklin’s own house, lightning rods were installed on the Academy of Philadelphia (later the University of Pennsylvania) and the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall) in 1752.

In recognition of his work with electricity, Franklin received the Royal Society’s Copley Medal in 1753 and in 1756 he became one of the few 18th- century Americans to be elected as a Fellow of the Society. The cgs unit of electric charge has been named after him: one franklin (Fr) is equal to one statcoulomb.

Hudok: Feds trying to control public education

By ANTHONY GAYNOR, Staff Writer, The Inter-Mountain
POSTED: April 7, 2010

Pickens School Teacher Phil Hudok has concerns that the federal government is trying to take over the public education system.

“This is public education right here,” Hudok told the Randolph County Board of Education on Monday. “I am speaking for teachers, the public and parents.”

Hudok cited several news articles he said lead him to believe the federal government is overstepping its bounds to controlling public education. He cited one news story in which Gov. Joe Manchin said he would not rule out calling lawmakers into special session to ensure the state qualifies for federal funding.

“It says our state is looking for a way to get money that was taken from the people,” Hudok said. “The federal government should have no control in public education.”

Hudok also cited another news article published on titled “Obama’s Safe Schools Czar Advocated ‘Queering in Elementary Education.'” Hudok read a portion of the article and said Obama’s appointed Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennings wrote the forward to a book that includes teaching sexuality to grade school children.

“I don’t like to talk about this stuff,” Hudok said. “This is a book our safe school czar wrote a forward for.”

Hudok said he would bring more information to the board at a later date.

“I think what I have given you is evidence this is happening,” he said.

The board also heard a report from Randolph County Schools Finance Director Brad Smith concerning the 2009 audit report.

He said the auditors had no findings after completing their audit.

The board took action on several items including the transfer/sale of property known as the Laurel Hill School lot. Randolph County Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Phares said the company building the windmills near Laurel Mountain discovered a deed that conveys property to the board for construction of a school. Phares recommended that the board initiate a quitclaim process on the property. This will give 30 days public notice to ensure no one has a claim to the property. After the 30-day period, the school system will auction the property.


The U.S. Army is Born

June 14, 1776 is when Congress adopted “the American continental army” after reaching a consensus position in The Committee of the Whole. This procedure and the desire for secrecy account for the sparseness of the official journal entries for the day. The record indicates only that Congress undertook to raise ten companies of riflemen, approved an enlistment form for them, and appointed a committee (including Washington and Schuyler) to draft rules and regulations for the government of the army. The delegates’ correspondence, diaries, and subsequent actions make it clear that they really did much more. They also accepted responsibility for the existing New England troops and forces requested for the defense of the various points in New York. The former were believed to total 10,000 men; the latter, both New Yorkers and Connecticut men, another 5,000.

At least some members of Congress assumed from the beginning that this force would be expanded. That expansion, in the form of increased troop ceilings at Boston, came very rapidly as better information arrived regarding the actual numbers of New England troops. By the third week in June delegates were referring to 15,000 at Boston. When on 19 June Congress requested the governments of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire to forward to Boston “such of the forces as are already embodied, towards their quotas of the troops agreed to be raised by the New England Colonies,” it gave a clear indication of its intent to adopt the regional army. Discussions the next day indicated that Congress was prepared to support a force at Boston twice the size of the British garrison, and that it was unwilling to order any existing units to be disbanded. By the first week in July delegates were referring to a total at Boston that was edging toward 20.000. Maximum strengths for the forces both in Massachusetts and New York were finally established on 21 and 22 July, when solid information was on hand. These were set, respectively, at 22,000 and 5,000 men, a total nearly double that envisioned on 14 June.

The “expert riflemen” authorized on 14 June were the first units raised directly as Continentals. Congress intended to have the ten companies serve as a light infantry force for the Boston siege. At the same time it symbolically extended military participation beyond New England by allocating 6 of the companies to Pennsylvania, 2 to Maryland, and 2 to Virginia. Each company would have a captain, 3 lieutenants, 4 sergeants, 4 corporals, a drummer (or horn player), and 68 privates. The enlistment period was set at one year, the norm for the earlier Provincials, a period that would expire on 1 July 1776.

Celebrate Flag Day

In the United States, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14 to commemorate the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened that day by resolution of the Second Continental Congress in 1777.

On May 30th, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day; it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day, although it is not an official federal holiday.

The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America’s birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885. BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as ‘Flag Birthday’. In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as ‘Flag Birthday’, or ‘Flag Day’.

Birthday of A Beautiful Mind

John Forbes Nash Jr. was born on June 13, 1928 in Bluefield, West Virginia. His father was an electrical engineer and his mother worked as a school teacher. His father gave him scientific volumes to study, while his parents made sure that he received a good education. He became known as an oddball at his school, considering dances, sports, and other social activities to be distractions from his work in scientific study and experimentation. His mother tutored him outside of school, allowing him to skip a grade.

In his senior year of high school, John won a coveted Westinghouse scholarship, one of only ten awarded in the nation. He went to the Carnegie Institute of Technology and, in 1948, graduated with a Master’s degree after only three years. Although he had originally planned to study chemical engineering, he quickly discovered a love for mathematics and changed his major. His advisor wrote a recommendation for him saying “This man is a genius”.

After graduating, John went immediately to Princeton University, where his major accomplishment was to develop his theory of “Nash Equilibrium”, which applied to Game Theory. He rarely attended class, insisting that it would ruin his originality. He constantly looked for ways to establish himself in the field of mathematics in order to become the world’s greatest mathematician. He constantly walked through the hallways whistling Bach’s “Little Fugue” and rode his bicycle in a figure-eight or infinity symbol in the quadrangle on campus.

After he graduated with his Ph.D, John moved to Boston, where he became a distinguished member of the faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was called the “kid professor” by students since he was so young. In 1958, he was featured in Fortune Magazine as one of the brightest stars in the field of mathematics.

He suffered, and has since recovered from schizophrenia. Today, Nash serves in the department of mathematics at Princeton. His life was immortalized in the film “A Beautiful Mind”, with his character portrayed by Russell Crowe.

Second Wheeling Convention Calls for Reorganized Virginia Government

With the adoption of Virginia’s Ordinance of Secession on May 23, the Second Wheeling Convention began on June 11 as decided at the First Convention. (The First Wheeling Convention was held on May 13 through May 15. Twenty-seven western Virginia counties were represented. Of the 429 delegates who attended, over one-third were from the area around Wheeling. )

The meeting was held in Washington Hall and later the Custom House. The first measures adopted at the Convention ruled that 88 delegates representing 32 counties were entitled to seats in the convention, though other delegates would be accepted later. Arthur I. Boreman was selected to serve as president, and he declared, “We are determined to live under a State Government in the United States of America and under the Constitution of the United States.”

On June 13, John Carlile introduced to the convention “A Declaration of the People of Virginia,” a document calling for the reorganization of the state government on the grounds that Virginia’s secession had in effect vacated all offices of the existing government. Carlile presented an ordinance for this purpose the next day, beginning the debate. Virtually all the delegates at the Convention recognized the differences between eastern and western Virginia as irreconcilable and supported some sort of separation; the disagreement was over how this separation should occur. Dennis Dorsey of Monongalia County called for permanent and decisive separation from eastern Virginia. Carlile, however, though he had called for a similar plan during the First Convention, persuaded the delegates that constitutional restrictions made it necessary for the formation of a loyal government of Virginia, whose legislature could then give permission for the creation of a new state. On June 19, delegates approved this plan unanimously.

The next day, June 20, officials were selected to fill the offices of the Virginia state government (usually called the Restored government of Virginia to avoid confusion with the government meeting in Richmond). Francis Pierpont of Marion County was elected governor. On June 25, the Convention adjourned until Aug. 6.

Virginia Declaration of Rights Adopted

Written by George Mason (1725-1792), who Thomas Jefferson regarded as the “the wisest man of his generation,” the Virginia Declaration of Rights was adopted by the Virginia Constitutional Convention on June 12, 1776. Widely copied by the other colonies (by the end of 1776 five colonies had adopted declarations of rights; by 1783 every state had some form of a bill of rights), it became the basis of the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution after Mason fought against ratification of the Constitution because it contained no bill of rights. The Declaration of Rights was also used by Thomas Jefferson for the opening paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence. The Marquis de Condorcet called the Virginia Declaration of Rights “the first Bill of Rights to merit the name.”

Committee to Draft the Declaration of Independence Formed

Five men were named to a committee on June 11, 1776 to draft a document explaining the grievances against Great Britain. This document would become the Declaration of Independence. The committee members were Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston. However, Jefferson took on the task of actually writing the document. Franklin and the committee helped with revisions and then the entire Continental Congress went through and debated the document to refine it to the final copy that was officially adopted on July 4, 1776.

For an entertaining dramatization of this historic event, check out the musical, 1776. Here’s a clip: But Mr. Adams

Parties object to being abbreviated on Oregon ballot

Oregon’s eight recognized political parties are about to get downsized on the ballot this year – and they are not happy about it. The Oregon secretary of state’s office, saying that a new fusion-voting law is putting a squeeze in space on the ballot, plans to have each party listed next to a candidate’s name by a three-letter abbreviation. Read more

California Voters Pass Top-Two, Restrict Choice

Proposition 14, the top-two ballot measure, has been passed in California with 53.8% “Yes”. This changes their primary election into an open general and thus makes the general election effectively a run-off between the top two primary candidates, regardless of their party. Third party candidates will be completely shut out by Republicans and Democrats and write-in votes will no longer be counted. Read more

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