Today is a very special day here in the Gorgeous Commonwealth. It is the first day of Deer Season. When I was a kid growing up in Western Pennsylvania it was a school holiday. There was no point in having classes because most of the students would be absent anyway. I don’t know if they still do that, but if they don’t they should. Just be sure that if you have to be out in the woods and fields tomorrow and aren’t carrying a gun you wear bright colors. That way you make an easy target.
On this day in 1782 Britain recognized American independence — well, sort of. The process was actually quite protracted. Military operations against the colonists effectively ended at Yorktown in October, 1781; then political support for the war collapsed in Britain, forcing the resignation of Prime Minister Lord North in March, 1782; one month later the Commons voted to end the war; and negotiators meeting in Paris signed preliminary peace articles on November 30th. The Treaty of Paris formally ending the war and recognizing American independence was not signed until September of the following year, and the Confederation Congress did not ratify it until January, 1784. But it is safe to say that the matter of American independence was not an issue after the signing of the preliminary articles of peace.
Entering the Building:
Jonathan Swift  still the greatest satirist in the English language.
Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)  not bad at satire himself and still IMHO the greatest American writer.
Theodore Mommsen  German historian of Rome, revered in his day, and still considered important. One of his biggest fans was Mark Twain who once wrote, “I would have walked a great many miles to get a sight of him….”
Winston Churchill  who in a recent poll was voted the “Greatest Englishman of All Time”. He may well be. He distinguished himself as a statesman and orator, as a military officer, historian, journalist, and artist. Like Mommsen he won the Nobel Prize for literature. In government he held positions as President of the Board of Trade, Home Secretary, First Lord of the Admiralty, Minister of Munitions, Secretary of State for War, and Chancellor of the Exchequer before being elected Prime Minister in 1940. He was one of the great war leaders of modern times. He has his detractors, many of them, but nobody can dispute that he was one of the greatest figures of modern times. If you want to learn more about him this is a good place to start.
And a very “Happy Birthday” to Radu Lupu pianist extraordinare. I had the privilege of hearing him perform last year. It was a great experience. I would post a link to one of his performances but all of his solo work seems to have been removed from the internet.
Leaving the Building:
Cleopatra VII [30 BC]. Last of the Ptolemaic rulers of Egypt, consort of Caesar and Antony, and one of the most romanticized figures in history. This site has links to a lot of online resources on her. Oh, by the way, she was not black — she was Macedonian, a descendant of Ptolemy, one of Alexander’s generals.
As was their custom, four Lakewood, Washington police officers met at a local coffee house before their shift began, to exchange information, catch-up on paperwork and browse the internet. This morning, things went horribly wrong:
The officers – three male and one female – were in full uniform and wearing bulletproof vests, sitting in Forza coffee shop near 116th Street and Steele Street on the east side of the Air Force base at about 8:30 a.m., preparing for their shift when the suspect walked in, went up to the counter as if to order coffee, then turned and opened fire.
[Pierce county sheriff's spokesman Ed] Troyer called it an “ambush.”
“They had marked police cars, marked uniforms, there were other people inside the facility, they weren’t shot, wounded or hurt or even aimed at, just the police officers were,” said Troyer.
It wasn’t clear whether the officers even had time to draw their weapons to return fire, Troyer said.
“This was more of an execution. Walk in with the specific mindset to shoot police officers,” Troyer said.
NBC10 is reporting that one of the officers is a Pennsylvania native:
One of four Lakewood police officers shot and killed in an ambush at a coffee shop in Parkland, Washington Sunday morning was from the Lehigh Valley area, according to family members.
Officer Mark Renninger, 39, was born and raised in Bethlehem and went to Washington State because of his military service, according to his brother Michael Renninger
It’s believed that one of the officers may have had time to get a shot off and that the assailant may be wounded. Police have a suspect:
Pierce county sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said they are looking for Maurice Clemmons, 37.
Troyer said Clemmons has an extensive violent criminal history from Arkansas, including aggravated robbery and theft. He has also recently been arrested and charged in Pierce County for assault on a police officer and for rape of a child.
Officer Mark Renninger is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son. Donations for the officers’ families can be sent to: LPIG Benevolent Fund at PO Box 99579 Lakewood, WA 98499.
Pennsylvania’s biggest draw for hunters is set to begin with the start of the 12-day firearms deer season.
About 750,000 hunters statewide are expected to take to the field on Monday. However, rain is forecast in some areas.
Hunters are expected to kill between 80,000 and 90,000 deer on opening day. That’s almost one-third of the 300,000 deer that game officials estimate will be harvested over the course of the season.
I spent a little time wandering around the South Hamburg railroad yards today. As a child I lived in a railroad town on the Pennsy main line. Railroading was a vibrant culture back in those days and it saddened to me to see the state to which it has fallen. The line of rusting and abandoned rolling stock stretches for mile after mile after mile along Rte. 61 north of Reading. Like I said, sad, at least for those of us old enough to remember what once was.
Michael Mann, co-author of the Copenhagen Diagnosis and lead author of the UN IPCC Third Assessment Report, blamed skeptics for taking the personal emails out of context.
“What they’ve done is search through stolen personal emails—confidential between colleagues who often speak in a language they understand and is often foreign to the outside world. Suddenly, all these are subject to cherry picking,” he said.
They’ve turned “something innocent into something nefarious,” Mann added.
The vital point being left out, he said, is that “regardless of how cherry-picked,” there is “absolutely nothing in any of the emails that calls into the question the deep level of consensus of climate change.”
This is a “smear campaign to distract the public,” said Mann. “Those opposed to climate action, simply don’t have the science on their side,” he added.
About the hockey stick, and no doubt influenced by the “leak.”
In November 2005, Representative Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) requested that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) convene a panel of independent experts to investigate Professor Mann’s seminal 1999 reconstruction of the global surface temperature over the past 1,000 years. The resulting 2006 report of the NAS panel (http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11676) concluded that Mann’s results were sound and has been subsequently supported by an array of evidence that includes additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions.
In recent days a lengthy file of emails has been made public. Some of the questions raised through those emails may have been addressed already by the NAS investigation but others may not have been considered. The University is looking into this matter further, following a well defined policy used in such cases. No public discussion of the matter will occur while the University is reviewing the concerns that have been raised.
Hauling brush and old tires out of the woods in Allentown early Friday, members of the Service Employees International Union learned an Eagle-Scout-to-be is just as forgiving as he is trustworthy, loyal and helpful.
The Eagle Scout service project of Kevin Anderson, 17, of Upper Saucon Township was caught up in a national media firestorm after Nick Balzano, an Allentown union official, threatened to file a grievance over Kevin’s work clearing a trail in Kimmets Lock Park. Conservative pundits seized on the remark as evidence of the SEIU’s ”thuggery,” and Balzano later resigned.
To show there were no hard feelings, SEIU members from as far away as Philadelphia and New Jersey accepted Kevin’s invitation to help with the project Friday.
”They completely agreed — to come out, to help, to make amends,” said Kevin, a member of Troop 301 of Center Valley. ”I’m just glad it’s all coming together.”
A great ending to a lousy story.
Reports that the boy stood around drinking coffee and “supervising” are not true.
Today, millions of people went out shopping for the bargains which stores invariably offer on the day after Thanksgiving. I now offer the pros and cons of Black Friday, for the amusement of my fellow retail workers.
Pro: Today is the biggest day of the year for sales, and the only day where people will line up outside the store for hours in order to hand you their money.
Con: The merchandise is sold at such a deep discount that when all is said and done you’ll be lucky to break even on the day.
Pro: On your way to work, you’ll probably drive past some other store that is going to do about a thousand times more business than your store will do. You’ll laugh cruelly at the employees of that store, knowing that as bad as you’re about to have it, they have it much worse.
Con: You work at Wal-Mart or Target. In which case NOBODY has it worse than you.
Pro: You get to leave work at 2PM!
Con: That’s because you started at 5AM!
Pro: Lovely ladies will be out in force looking to you for deals, and they’ll give you a big happy smile when you get them that item they’ve been looking for.
Con: Those lovely ladies have been up since 2AM after feasting on tryptophan-filled sleep-inducing turkey the night before and look like death warmed over.
Pro: Oh yeah? Well you store clerks look like crap, too.
Pro: People who wait in line in the cold for three hours are very happy when you get them what they’re looking for.
Con: People who come into the store six hours after the sale started curse you out when you tell them that the doorbusters were sold out five hours ago, because you should have known that they were going to sell out fast and ordered at least ten thousand of them to have on hand.
Pro: People understand that it’s Black Friday, so it’s very hectic and it’s best just to be patient.
Con: There is always one customer who doesn’t realize that it’s Black Friday, and who starts yelling about WHY IS THIS TAKING SO LONG because this isn’t a special day or anything, it’s definitely not the busiest shopping day of the year.
Pro: You will be amazed at how well you get to know your store’s inventory in one day.
Con: That’s because you will have to tell people about a thousand times that you’re all out of the doorbusters.
Pro: Black Friday brings a lot of new customers into your store who have never been there before.
Con: And you’ll see them again on Saturday as they return the doorbusters they bought on impulse but have absolutely no use for.
Pro: Black Friday eventually ends.
Con: Until next year!