Tuesday, September 30, 2008

2008: first marathon run in under two hours, four minutes

Haile Gebrselassie took advantage of nearly perfect conditions on his favorite course to smash his own marathon world record on Sunday.

The 35-year-old Ethiopian became the first runner to finish under 2 hours, 4 minutes when he won the Berlin Marathon in 2:03:59, slashing 27 seconds off his own world record, set in the same race last year.

Gebrselassie again called Berlin his "lucky city" and thanked a crowd estimated as large as 1 million for helping him set his 26th world record and become the first man to win the race three times.

"Before I came here, I knew I can do something here in Berlin because, since I started running, Berlin is my lucky city," Gebrselassie said.

Running under clear, sunny skies in mild temperatures, Gebrselassie paced himself well and controlled the race from the start.

James Kwambai, who kept up with Gebrselassie for 36 kilometers, finished second in 2:05:36, improving his personal best by nearly five minutes. Another Kenyan, Charles Kamathi, was third in 2:07:48.

Berlin's flat course often provides fast times. Five years ago, Paul Tergat of Kenya ran 2:04:55, becoming the first runner to go under 2:05.

Gebrselassie first ran in Berlin in 2006 and clocked 2:05:56 before breaking the world record last year. In three years, he has improved nearly two minutes on his time.

In the women's race, Irina Mikitenko of Germany improved her personal best by more than four minutes to record the seventh fastest time for a woman. She finished in 2:19:19 to break the national record and become the fourth fastest woman of all time, behind record-holder Paula Radcliffe, Catherine Ndereba and Mizuki Noguchi. Askale Magarsa of Ethiopia was second in 2:21:31 and Helena Kirop of Kenya finished third in 2:25:01.

Nearly 41,000 runners took part in the race. (info from The International Heral Tribune)

Monday, September 29, 2008

1990: first free election in Haiti

On December 17, 1990 Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a radical Roman Catholic priest and opponent of the dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier, was elected president of Haiti in a landslide victory. It was the first free election in Haiti's history. However, less than one year later, in September 1991, Aristide was deposed in a bloody military coup. He escaped to exile, and a three-man junta took power.

In 1994, reacting to evidence of atrocities committed by Haiti's military dictators, the United Nations authorized the use of force to restore Aristide. On September 18, the eve of the American invasion, a diplomatic delegation led by former US President Jimmy Carter brokered a last-minute agreement with Haiti's military to give up power.

Bloodshed was prevented, and on September 19, 1994, 20,000 US troops landed unopposed to oversee Haiti's transition to democracy. In October, Aristide returned and served as president until the expiration of his term in 1996.

He was succeeded by his close friend and handpicked successor Rene Preval, who was elected president in a landslide victory the previous year. In 2000, Aristide was again elected Haitian president in an election marked by violence and corruption. (info from History.com)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

2001: first college name change because of jokes

For years, the students and staff at Philadelphia's women-only Beaver College, tolerated jokes and ridicule about "the rodent, the TV show 'Leave It to Beaver' and the vulgar reference to the female anatomy," said college president Bette E. Landman. So, as of July 16, 2001, Beaver College became Arcadia University.

Beaver was founded in 1853 as a small women's college in western Pennsylvania's Beaver County. In 1925 it moved hundreds of miles east, to suburban Philadelphia.

The college has appeared on David Letterman's Top 10 list. Conan O'Brien and Howard Stern have joked about it. When "Saturday Night Live" writers invented an annoying film critic, they made him a representative of Beaver College campus radio.

The college's research showed it appealed to 30 percent fewer prospective students because of the name. Problems worsened with the Internet, since some PC filters intended to block sexually explicit material, blocked access to the college's website.

Surveys about the name change were sent to more than 20,000 alumni, students, parents, faculty and staff, and comments came in from others who saw news stories about the search for a name. Six names were sent to focus groups, and Arcadia was the clear winner. (info from The Associated Press)

1812: first White House wedding

In 1812, Dolley Madison, wife of fourth president James Madison, arranged the first marriage ceremony to be held at the White House -– the wedding of her widowed sister, Lucy Payne Washington, to a Supreme Court Justice, Thomas Todd.

Dolley herself was a widow who remarried. Her first husband was not the president, but John Todd, Jr., a lawyer who died of yellow fever after just three years of marriage, leaving Dolley with a young son.

For half a century she was the most important woman in the social circles of America. To this day she remains one of the best known and best loved first ladies, and apparently the only one who inspired an ice cream brand. Dolley served ice cream at her husband's Inaugural Ball in 1813. The ice cream brand spells her first name without the "e."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

2006: man with wings flies over the Alps

Years ago, aviation enthusiast and inventor Yves Rossy dreamed of soaring through the sky like a bird. In 2006 that dream took flight.

Known as Switzerland’s "Fusion Man," Rossy in November 2006 became the first man in the world to fly with wings and four jet engines strapped to his body. The inaugural flight lasted six minutes in Bex, Switzerland, and included an emergency parachute programmed to automatically open if he were to black out. "The idea is to have fun, not to kill yourself," Rossy said.

"This flight was absolutely excellent," the extreme sports enthusiast said after touching down on an airfield near the eastern shore of Lake Geneva.

Half an hour earlier Rossy had stepped out of the Swiss-built Pilatus Porter aircraft at 7,500 feet, unfolded the rigid 8-foot wings strapped to his back and dropped. Passing from free fall to a gentle glide, Rossy then triggered four jet turbines and accelerated to 186 miles an hour as a crowd on the mountaintop below gasped — then cheered. His mother, who was among the spectators, told journalists she felt no fear. "He knows what he's doing," Paule Rossy said.
Steering only with his body, Rossy dived, turned and soared again, flying what appeared to be effortless loops from one side of the Rhone valley to the other. At times he rose 2,600 feet before descending again.

"It's like a second skin," he later told reporters. "If I turn to the left, I fly left. If I nudge to the right, I go right." Rossy then performed a stunt he had never before tried. After one last wave to the crowd, the rocket man tipped his wings, flipped onto his back and leveled out again, executing a perfect 360-degree roll that even a bird would find impossible. "That was to impress the girls," he later admitted.

The five-minute flight nearly never happened. Rossy said his engineers worked until the last minute to fix one of the four kerosene-fueled engines that power his flight.

He said he is ready for a bigger challenge: crossing the English Channel. The stunt, which will be shown on live television, will test his flying machine to the limit. Rossy said he plans to practice the 22-mile trip by flying between two hot-air balloons. "I still haven't used the full potential," he said.

Rossy told The Associated Press that one day he also hopes to fly through the Grand Canyon. To do this, he will have to fit his wings with bigger, more powerful jets to allow for greater maneuvering. The German-built model aircraft engines he uses already provide 200 pounds of thrust — enough to allow Rossy and his 120-pound flying suit to climb through the air. Physically, it's absolutely no stress," Rossy said. "It's like being on a motorbike."

But on this ride, even the slightest movement can cause problems. Rossy said he has to focus hard on relaxing in the air, because "if you put tension on your body, you start to swing around."
Should things go wrong — and Rossy says they have done more times than not — there's always a yellow handle to jettison the wings and unfold the parachute.

"I've had many 'whoops' moments," he said. "My safety is altitude." Rossy — whose sponsors have dubbed him "Fusion Man" — says his form of human flight will remain the reserve of very few for now. The price and effort involved are simply too enormous, he says.

So far Rossy and sponsors have poured more than $190,000, and countless hours of labor into building the device. He would not estimate how much his device would cost should it ever be brought to market.

But, he believes similar jet-powered wings one day will be more widely available to experienced parachutists ready for the ultimate flying experience. That is, if they don't mind missing out on the breathtaking panorama above the Swiss Alps. "I am so concentrated, I don't really enjoy the view," Rossy said. (info from Fox News)

Monday, September 22, 2008

2008: last game in original Yankee Stadium

It happened Sunday night in the Bronx, when Yankee Stadium hosted a baseball game for the last time. It went out the way it opened, with a victory, this one by 7-3 over the Baltimore Orioles. Babe Ruth hit the first home run, in 1923, and José Molina hit the last, a two-run shot to left that broke a tie in the fourth inning.

The Yankees held off elimination with the victory, the eighth in their final nine games at Yankee Stadium. Andy Pettitte, the winning pitcher, worked into the sixth inning, waving his cap to the fans, who never stopped cheering until he took a curtain call.

“The way I feel emotionally right now, and just physically so drained, it feels like a huge postseason win for us,” Pettitte said, standing on the infield grass after the game. “I kind of feel embarrassed saying that, because unless a miracle happens, we’re not going to the postseason. But it was special.”

Manager Joe Girardi compared it to the seventh game of the World Series, because the Yankees could not afford to lose, and it felt that way for many reasons. From the bunting along the upper deck, to the United States Army Field Band, to the mix of excitement and anxiety bubbling up in the guts of the uniformed Yankees, there was no doubt this night would be special.

“I feel as nervous as I was before a playoff game,” said Bernie Williams, back in pinstripes at last, one of more than 20 former Yankees who returned for the pregame ceremonies.

The Yankees opened the gates seven hours early, allowing fans to stroll the warming track for one last walk in the park. Closer to game time, the team unveiled the American League championship flag that was raised on the first opening day, in 1923.

Bob Sheppard recorded an introduction, promising to be there to christen the new Yankee Stadium next April 16. A team of stand-ins, dressed in old-time uniforms, marched into center field, representing some of the late Yankees legends.

One by one, the living greats took their positions, all to heartfelt cheers. The children of other standouts — Randy Maris, Michael Munson, David Mantle and others — took their fathers’ places.

Willie Randolph slid into his position, second base, and rubbed dirt on his jersey, reveling in his return to the Yankees. Whitey Ford pretended to lift out the pitcher’s rubber. The fans reprised chants that rang through the walls years ago — “Bob-by Mur-cer!” “Ti-no! Ti-no!” and so on.

Many of the stars not there were shown on the video board in right-center field — Rickey Henderson and Chuck Knoblauch, Sparky Lyle and Orlando Hernández. No mention of Roger Clemens.

The bench was so stuffed that some of the Yankees sat on the dugout roof to watch. Jorge Posada stood on the field, taking photos with a digital camera, just another fan with rich memories of a stadium that always seemed to give his team an edge.

“Especially in 2001,” Posada said. “We were helped by Yankee Stadium, the fans coming here, playing for something more meaningful.”

The former players mingled in the clubhouse before the game, in full uniform, right down to Yogi Berra’s stirrups. Current Yankees scurried around collecting snapshots and autographs.

“It’s remarkable,” said Phil Coke, a rookie pitcher with three weeks in the majors. “Totally and completely blows my mind. I turn around and look over and see Goose Gossage walking around our clubhouse. Wow.”

Derek Jeter said he would miss the walk from the clubhouse to the dugout — down a tunnel, with the Joe DiMaggio sign hanging above. “I want to thank the good Lord for making me a Yankee,” it says, and Jeter tapped it before every game. Jeter would not say, but there seems to be a strong chance the sign will be his.

On Saturday night, Jeter said, he spoke with Jackson about their shared emotions. Both built their legends at Yankee Stadium, but they agreed they would be filled not with sadness, but with pride for having been a part of history. “Make sure you enjoy this,” Jeter said his parents told him recently. “You don’t want to look back and wish you’d done something different.”

Jeter’s parents and sister joined him on the field before the first pitch, as two of George Steinbrenner’s children presented him with a crystal bat for breaking Gehrig’s record for hits at the Stadium. Jeter would get no more hits on Sunday, going 0 for 5, but he went down as the last Yankee ever to bat at Yankee Stadium.

It was Jeter who had the memorable line in 2006, when the Yankees broke ground on the new $1.3 billion Yankee Stadium, saying that the ghosts from the old place would simply move across the street.

There was a sense of sadness and loss amid the celebration. Berra, who had dismissed the renovated Stadium as nothing like the original, nearly broke down at a pregame news conference as he invoked the names of former teammates who have died.

He made jokes, too, saying he wanted to take home plate, and complaining that the yellowed, wool uniform he was given did not quite feel authentic. But Berra, born two years after the Stadium opened, seemed to feel he was losing a part of himself. “It will always be in my heart, it will,” he said, adding later, “I’m sorry to see it over, I tell you that.”

The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Julia Ruth Stevens, the daughter of the Babe, who beamed as she bounced her toss to Posada. “To Be Continued ...” it said on the scoreboard, beneath a photo of a winking Bambino.

In Ruthian style, the Yankees went ahead twice on home runs. Johnny Damon hit the first, a three-run shot in the third inning that erased a 2-0 Baltimore lead.

When the Orioles tied it in the fourth, Molina came up in the bottom of the inning with a man on second and one out. He had just two homers in 259 at-bats, but he lifted his third onto the netting above the retired numbers, pumping his fists as he put the Yankees ahead, 5-3, with the last homer the Stadium will ever see.

“Nobody thought it was going to be me,” Molina said. “We have A-Rod, we have Abreu, we have Giambi, we have so many guys that can hit home runs, and look who it was — the guy that probably nobody expected.”

As horses carried police onto the field, several Yankees and Orioles gathered at the mound to scoop dirt as souvenirs. Soon, all of the Yankees converged there. Jeter took the microphone, praising the fans as the greatest in the world.

“And we are relying on you to take the memories from this stadium, add them to the new memories to come at the new Yankee Stadium, and continue to pass them on from generation to generation,” Jeter told the crowd.

Then all of the Yankees lifted their caps to the crowd and took a final lap around the field, waving all the way, to the sounds of Sinatra. Not much has gone according to plan for the Yankees this season, but that worked just right.

“It was more the people than the stadium,” Williams said. “You talk about the magic and the aura, but what really made the Stadium was the fans. Concrete doesn’t talk back to you. Chairs don’t talk back to you. It’s the people that are there, that root for you day in and day out. That’s what makes this place magical.”

The legacy of Yankee Stadium, it turns out, was never the title fights or the N.F.L. championships, the papal visits or the World Series. It was the fans. In its final season, the Yankees set a record for attendance, 4,298,543. At the end, the fans were drawn to Ruth’s house in ways he never could have dreamed. (info from The New York Times)

Friday, September 5, 2008

1895-1898: first man sails solo around the world

Joshua Slocum was born in 1844 in Nova Scotia, Canada. Joshua descended, on his father's side, from a Quaker who left the United States shortly after 1780 because of his opposition to the American War for Independence. Part of the Loyalist migration to Nova Scotia, the Slocums were granted five hundred acres of farmland.

His earliest ventures on the water were made on coastal schooners along the Bay of Fundy. When Joshua was eight years old, the Slocum family moved from Mount Hanley to Brier Island at the mouth of the Bay. Slocum's maternal grandfather was the keeper of the lighthouse at Southwest Point there.

His father, a stern man and strict disciplinarian, took up making leather boots for the local fishermen, and Joshua helped in the shop. However, the boy found the scent of salt air much more alluring than the smell of shoe leather. He yearned for a life of adventure at sea, away from his demanding father and his increasingly chaotic life at home among so many brothers and sisters.

He made several attempts to run away from home, finally succeeding at age fourteen, by hiring on as a cabin boy and cook on a fishing schooner, but he soon returned home. In 1860, after the birth of the eleventh Slocum child and the subsequent death of his mother, Joshua, then sixteen, left home for good. He and a friend signed on at Halifax as seamen on a merchant ship bound for Ireland.

From Dublin, he crossed to Liverpool to become a seaman on a British merchant ship bound for China. During two years as a seaman, he rounded Cape Horn twice, landed at Dutch East Indies, and visited the Moluccas, Manila, Hong Kong, Saigon, Singapore, and San Francisco. While at sea, he studied for the Board of Trade examination, and, at the age of eighteen, he received his certificate as a fully-qualified Second Mate. Slocum quickly rose through the ranks to become a Chief Mate on British ships transporting coal and grain between the British Isles and San Francisco.

In 1865, he settled in San Francisco, became an American citizen, and, after a period of salmon fishing and fur trading in the Oregon Territory of the northwest, he returned to the sea to pilot a schooner in the coastwise trade between San Francisco and Seattle. His first blue-water command, in 1869, was the barque Washington, which he took across the Pacific, from San Francisco to Australia, and home via Alaska.

He sailed for thirteen years out of San Francisco to China, Australia, the Spice Islands, and to Japan. Between 1869 and 1889, he was the master of eight vessels, the first four of which he commanded in the employ of others. Later, there would be four that he himself owned, in whole or in part.

Shortly before Christmas 1870, Slocum put in at Sydney, Australia. There, in about a month's time, he met, courted, and married a young woman named Virginia Albertina Walker. Walker, quite coincidentally, was an American whose New York family had migrated west to California at the time of the 1849 gold rush and eventually continued on, by ship, to settle in Australia. She sailed with Slocum, and, over the next thirteen years, bore him seven children at sea.

In Alaska, his ship was wrecked during a gale, when it ran ashore and broke up. Slocum, at considerable risk to himself, managed to save his wife, the crew, and much of the cargo, bringing all back to port safely in the ship's open boats. The owners of the shipping company that had employed Slocum were impressed by this feat of ingenuity and leadership, so they gave him the command of another which he sailed to Hawaii and the west coast of Mexico.

His next command was the Benjamin Aymar, a merchant vessel in the South Seas trade. However, the owner, strapped for cash, sold the vessel out from under Slocum, and he and Virginia found themselves stranded in the Philippines without a ship. There, in 1874, under a commission from a British architect, Slocum organized native workers to build a 150-ton steamer. In partial payment for the work, he was given the ninety-ton schooner, Pato, the first ship he could call his own.

Ownership of the Pato afforded Slocum the kind of freedom and autonomy he had never experienced before. Hiring a crew, he contracted to deliver a cargo to Vancouver in British Columbia. Thereafter, he used the Pato as a general freight carrier along the west coast of North America and in voyages back and forth between San Francisco and Hawaii. During this period, Slocum also fulfilled a long-held ambition to become a writer; he became a temporary correspondent for the San Francisco Bee.

The Slocum Family continued on their next ship, Aquidneck. In 1884, Virginia became ill aboard the Aquidneck in Buenos Aires and died. Sailing to Massachusetts, his three youngest children were left in the care of his sisters while his oldest son continued as first mate.

In 1886, Slocum married again to his 24 year old cousin, Henrietta Elliott. The Slocum family once again took to the sea aboard the Aquidneck bound for Montevideo, Uruguay. Slocum's second wife would find life at sea much less appealing than his first. A few days into Henrietta's first voyage, the Aquidneck sailed through a huricanne. By the end of this first year, the crew had contracted cholera and were quarantined for six months.

Later, Slocum was forced to defend his ship from pirates, one of which he shot and killed. For the incident he was tried and acquitted for murder. Next, the Aquidneck was infected with smallpox leading to the death of three of the crew. Disinfecting of the ship was performed at considerable cost to Slocum. Shortly after, near the end of 1887, the unlucky Aquidneck was wrecked in southern Brazil.

His next boat, the Liberdade, was an unusual 35-foot design which he described as a cross between a "Chinese sampan" and a "Cape Ann Dorie,". In 1888 he and his family began their voyage back to the United States. After fifty-five days at sea, the Slocums reached South Carolina and continued on until finally reaching New York in 1889. This was the last time Henrietta sailed with the family. In 1890, Slocum published the accounts of these adventures in the Voyage of the Liberdade.

In Fairhaven, Massachusetts, he rebuilt the 36′ 9″ sloop-rigged fishing boat named Spray (later re-rigged as a yawl after problems he encountered in the Strait of Magellan).

On April 24, 1895, he set sail from Boston. In his famous book, Sailing Alone Around the World, now considered a classic of travel literature, he described his departure in the following manner:

"I had resolved on a voyage around the world, and as the wind on the morning of April 24, 1895 was fair, at noon I weighed anchor, set sail, and filled away from Boston, where the Spray had been moored snugly all winter. The twelve o'clock whistles were blowing just as the sloop shot ahead under full sail. A short board was made up the harbor on the port tack, then coming about she stood to seaward, with her boom well off to port, and swung past the ferries with lively heels. A photographer on the outer pier of East Boston got a picture of her as she swept by, her flag at the peak throwing her folds clear. A thrilling pulse beat high in me. My step was light on deck in the crisp air. I felt there could be no turning back, and that I was engaging in an adventure the meaning of which I thoroughly understood."

After an extended visit to his boyhood home at Brier Island and visiting old haunts on the coast of Nova Scotia, Slocum took his departure from North America at Sambro Island Lighthouse near Halifax, Nova Scotia on July 3, 1895.

Slocum navigated without a chronometer, instead relying on the traditional method of dead reckoning for longitude, which required only a cheap tin clock for approximate time, and Noon sun sights for latitude. On one long passage in the Pacific, Slocum also famously shot a lunar distance observation, decades after these observations had ceased to be commonly employed, which allowed him to check his longitude independently. But Slocum's primary method for finding longitude was dead reckoning. He only took one lunar observation during the entire circumnavigation.

Slocum normally sailed Spray without touching the helm. Due to the length of the sail plan relative to the hull, and the long keel, Spray was inherently capable of self-steering (unlike faster modern craft), being able to be balanced stably on any course relative to the wind by adjusting or reefing the sails and by 'lashing' the helm. He tells us that he only helmed Spray when manoeuvering or in an emergency, and was proud of the fact that he sailed 2,000 miles west across the Pacific without once touching the helm.

More than three years later, on June 27, 1898, he returned to Newport, Rhode Island, having circumnavigated the world, a distance of more than 46,000 miles. Slocum's return went almost unnoticed. The Spanish-American War which had begun two months earlier dominated the headlines. After the end of major hostilities, many American newspapers published articles describing Slocum's amazing adventure.

In 1899 he published his account of the epic voyage in Sailing Alone Around the World, first serialized in The Century Magazine and then in several book editions. Reviewers received the Age of Sail adventure story enthusiastically. Arthur Ransome went so far as to declare, "Boys who do not like this book ought to be drowned at once." In his review, Sir Edwin Arnold wrote, "I do not hesitate to call it the most extraordinary book ever published." Slocum's book deal was an integral part of his journey: his publisher had provided Slocum with an extensive on-board library, and Slocum wrote several letters to his editor from distant points around the globe.

Slocum's Sailing Alone won him wide fame in the English-speaking world. He was one of eight invited speakers at a dinner in honor of Mark Twain in December, 1900. Slocum hauled the Spray up the Erie Canal to Buffalo, New York for the Pan-American Exposition in the summer of 1901, and was well compensated for participating in the fair. (info from Wikipedia)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

1872: first woman in the US arrested for voting

Susan Brownell Anthony (1820 – 1906) was a prominent American civil rights leader who played a pivotal role in the 19th century women's rights movement to secure women's suffrage in the United States. She traveled the United States and Europe, and gave 75 to 100 speeches per year on women's rights for some 45 years.

Anthony was born and raised in West Grove, near Adams, Massachusetts. She was the oldest of seven children. One brother, publisher Daniel Read Anthony, would become active in the anti-slavery movement in Kansas, while a sister, Mary Stafford Anthony, became a teacher and a woman's rights activist. Anthony remained close to her sisters throughout her life.

Anthony was a precocious child, having learned to read and write at age three. Her father, a cotton manufacturer and abolitionist, was a stern but open-minded man who was born into the Quaker religion.

Anthony's mother, Lucy, was a progressive-minded woman. She attended the Rochester women’s rights convention held in August 1848, two weeks after the historic Seneca Falls Convention, and signed the Rochester convention’s Declaration of Sentiments. Together the Anthonys enforced self-discipline, principled convictions, and belief in one's own self-worth.

In 1826, when Susan was six years old, the Anthony family moved to Battenville, New York. Susan was sent to attend a local district school, where a teacher refused to teach her long division because of her gender. Upon learning of the weak education she was receiving, her father promptly had her placed in a group home school, where he taught Susan himself. Mary Perkins, another teacher there, conveyed a progressive image of womanhood to Anthony, further fostering her growing belief in women's equality.

In 1837, Anthony was sent to Deborah Moulson's Female Seminary, a Quaker boarding school in Philadelphia. She was not happy at Moulson's, but she did not have to stay there long. She was forced to end her formal studies because her family, like many others, was financially ruined during the Panic of 1837. Their losses were so great that they were forced to attempt to sell everything in an auction, even their most personal belongings, which were saved at the last minute when Susan's uncle, Joshua Read, stepped up and bid for them in order to restore them to the family.

In 1839, the family moved to Hardscrabble (later called Center Falls) New York, in the wake of the panic and economic depression that followed. That same year, Anthony left home to teach and to help pay off her father's debts. Anthony's first occupation inspired her to fight for wages equivalent to those of male teachers, since men earned roughly four times more than women for the same duties.

In 1849, at age 29, Anthony quit teaching and moved to the family farm in Rochester, New York. She began to take part in conventions and gatherings related to the temperance movement. In Rochester, she attended the local Unitarian Church and began to distance herself from the Quakers, in part because she had frequently witnessed instances of hypocritical behavior such as alcohol abuse amongst Quaker preachers. As she got older, Anthony continued to move further away from organized religion in general, and she was later chastised by various Christian religious groups for displaying irreligious tendencies.

In her youth, Anthony was very self-conscious of her looks and speaking abilities. She long resisted public speaking for fear she would not be sufficiently eloquent. Despite these insecurities, she became a renowned public presence, eventually helping to lead the women's movement.

In the decade before the American Civil War, Anthony took a prominent role in the New York anti-slavery and temperance movements. In 1849, at age 29, she became secretary for the Daughters of Temperance, which gave her a forum to speak out against alcohol abuse, and served as the beginning of Anthony's movement towards the public limelight.

In 1851, on a street in Seneca Falls, Anthony was introduced to Elizabeth Cady Stanton by mutual acquaintance, as well as fellow feminist Amelia Bloomer. Anthony joined with Stanton in organizing the first women's state temperance society in America after being refused admission to a previous convention on account of her sex, in 1851. Stanton remained a close friend and colleague of Anthony's for the remainder of their lives, but Stanton longed for a broader, more radical women's rights platform. Together, the two women traversed the US giving speeches and attempting to persuade the government that society should treat men and women equally.

After the first American women's rights convention took place in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, Anthony took the opportunity to attend and support the women's rights convention held in Syracuse in 1852. It was around this time that Anthony began to gain widespread notoriety as a powerful public advocate of women's rights and as a new and stirring voice for change.

In 1856 Anthony further attempted to unify the African-American and women's rights movements when, recruited by abolitionist Abby Kelley she became agent for William Lloyd Garrison's American Anti-Slavery Society of New York State. Speaking at the Ninth National Women’s Rights Convention in 1859, Anthony asked "Where, under our Declaration of Independence, does the Saxon man get his power to deprive all women and Negroes of their inalienable rights?"

In 1869, long-time friends Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony found themselves, for the first time, on opposing sides of a debate. The Equal Rights Association, which had originally fought for both blacks’ and women’s right to suffrage, voted to support the 15th Amendment to the Constitution granting suffrage to black men, but not women. Anthony questioned why women should support this amendment when black men were not continuing to show support for women’s voting rights. Partially as a result of the decision by the Equal Rights Association, Anthony soon thereafter devoted herself almost exclusively to the agitation for women's rights.

In 1868, Anthony first published a weekly journal entitled The Revolution. Anthony worked as the publisher and business manager, while Elizabeth Cady Stanton acted as editor. The main thrust of The Revolution was to promote women’s and African-Americans’ right to suffrage, but it also discussed issues of equal pay for equal work, more liberal divorce laws, the church’s position on women’s issues and abortion, which she opposed. The journal was backed by independently wealthy George Francis Train, who provided $600 in starting funds.

On November 18, 1872, Anthony was arrested by a US Deputy Marshal for alleged illegal voting in the presidential election two weeks earlier. She had written to Stanton on the night of the election that she had "positively voted the Republican ticket – straight...".

She was tried and convicted seven months later, despite her stirring and eloquent arguments that the recently adopted Fourteenth Amendment, which guaranteed to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States" the privileges of citizenship, and which contained no sex qualification, gave women the constitutional right to vote in federal elections. The sentence was a fine, but not imprisonment; and true to her word in court, she never paid the penalty for the rest of her life. The trial gave Anthony the opportunity to spread her arguments to a wider audience than ever before.

Susan B. Anthony, who died 14 years, 5 months and five days before passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, was honored as the first real (non-allegorical) American woman on circulating US coinage with her appearance on the Susan B. Anthony dollar. The coin, approximately the size of a U.S. quarter, was minted for only four years, 1979, 1980, 1981, and 1999. Anthony dollars were produced at the Philadelphia and Denver mints for all four years, and at the San Francisco mint for all production years except 1999. (info from Wikipedia)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

1981: more women than men in US colleges

Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster PA began as Franklin College, the first coeducational college, in 1787.

Its first class had 78 male and 36 female students. The school ran into financial problems, and women students were shut out for 182 years.

Women remained the minority in colleges and universities for many years. Now 56% of American higher education students are women, and the percentage has been rising.

Traditionally, men were the family breadwinners, and college was the path to higher salaries. During the feminist movement of the 1970s, more girls sought careers, and enrolled in college. By 1981, more women than men were attending.

There has been an unexpected and unexplained drop in the number of boys applying to college. Researchers have a number of theories. More boys than girls drop out or are expelled from high school. Boys are three times more likely than girls to be in special education programs. (info from PBS and other sources)

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

2008: Hallmark introduces gay wedding cards

Most states don't recognize gay marriage - but now Hallmark does.

The nation's largest greeting card company is rolling out same-sex wedding cards - featuring two tuxedos, overlapping hearts or intertwined flowers, with best wishes inside.

Hallmark added the cards after California joined Massachusetts as the only US states with legal gay marriage. A handful of other states have recognized same-sex civil unions. The language inside the cards is neutral, with no mention of wedding or marriage, making them also suitable for a commitment ceremony.

Hallmark says the move is a response to consumer demand, not political pressure. Hallmark started offering "coming out" cards last year, and the four same-sex marriage cards are being gradually released this summer and will be widely available by next year.

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimates that more than 85,000 same-sex couples in the United States have entered into a legal relationship since 1997, when Hawaii started offering some legal benefits to same-sex partners.

It estimates nearly 120,000 more couples will marry in California during the next three years - and that means millions of potential dollars for all sorts of wedding-industry businesses.

Hallmark, known more for its Midwest mores than progressive greetings, has added a wider variety lately. It now offers cards for difficulty getting pregnant or going through rehab.

John Stark, one of the three founders of Three Way Design in Boston, which makes gay-themed cards for occasions from adoption to weddings, has several new designs sketched out and ready.

But he has hesitated adding more wedding cards to his mix until after the November election, when California voters will decide a constitutional amendment that would again limit marriage to a man and a woman in the state. (info from The Associated Press)