Saturday, February 05, 2005

2005 State of the Union of George W. Bush

2005 State of the Union of George W. Bush. I think all the reference to Iraq and the war on terror make this recent State of the Union Address by President Bush historically significant right now.

From the site:

As a new Congress gathers, all of us in the elected branches of government share a great privilege: we have been placed in office by the votes of the people we serve. And tonight that is a privilege we share with newly elected leaders of Afghanistan, the Palestinian territories, Ukraine, and a free and sovereign Iraq.

Two weeks ago, I stood on the steps of this Capitol and renewed the commitment of our nation to the guiding ideal of liberty for all. This evening I will set forth policies to advance that ideal at home and around the world.

Tonight, with a healthy, growing economy, with more Americans going back to work, with our nation an active force for good in the world -- the state of our union is confident and strong. Our generation has been blessed -- by the expansion of opportunity, by advances in medicine, and by the security purchased by our parents' sacrifice. Now, as we see a little gray in the mirror -- or a lot of gray -- and we watch our children moving into adulthood, we ask the question: What will be the state of their union?

Friday, February 04, 2005

History of Cuba

History of Cuba. This is a brief overview to the history of Cuba. It uses content from both the State Department and an old public domain copy of the Catholic Encyclopedia.

From the site:

Spanish settlers established the raising of cattle, sugarcane, and tobacco as Cuba's primary economic pursuits. As the native Indian population died out, African slaves were imported to work the ranches and plantations. Slavery was abolished in 1886.

The 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia wrote, "Cuba was discovered by Columbus during his first voyage, on the 28th of October, 1492. He took possession in the name of the Catholic monarchs of Spain, and named it Juana in honour of the Infante Don Juan. He again visited the island in 1494, and in 1502, and on each occasion explored part of the coast. He then believed that Cuba was part of the mainland, and it was not until 1508 that Sebastian Ocampo, by order of the king, circumnavigated it, and proved it to be an island. IN 1511, Captain Diego Velásquez, who had accompanied Columbus on his second voyage, was sent to Cuba to subjugate and colonize the island. He landed near Cape Maisí, the eastern extremity, and there was founded Baracoa, the first colony in Cuba. In 1514 Velásquez founded Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba on the south coast, Sancti Spiritus, Remedios, and Puerto Príncipe in the central portion; and, on the site of the present city of Batabanó, towards the western extremity of the south coast, San Cristóbal de la Habana; this last name, however, was given, in 1519, to a settlement existing on the present site of Havana. The same year Baracoa was raised to the dignity of a city and a bishopric, and was made the capital, as it continued to be until 1522, when both the capital and bishopric were transferred to Santiago de Cuba. Havana became the capital in 1552, and has remained so ever since."

"Upon the death of Ferdinand, 23 January, 1516, Velásquez changed the name of the island to Fernandina in honour of that monarch. Later, the name was changed to Santiago in honour of Spain's patron saint, and still later, to Ave María in honour of the Blessed virgin. During all these official changes, however, the island continued to be known by its original name of Cuba, given it by natives, and it has retained the name to the present day. The aborigines (Siboneys) whom the Spaniards found in Cuba, were a mild, timid, inoffensive people, entirely unable to resist the invaders of their country, or to endure the hardships imposed upon them. They lived under nine independent caciques or chiefs, and possessed a simple religion devoid of rites and ceremonies, but with a belief in a supreme being, and the immortality of the soul. They were reduced to slavery by the white settlers, among whom, however, the energetic and persevering Father Bartolomé de Las Casas, "The Protector of the Indians", as he was officially called, earned a high reputation in history by his philanthropic efforts. In 1524, the first cargo of negro slaves was landed in Cuba. Then began the iniquitous traffic in African slaves upon which corrupt officials fattened for many years thereafter. The negroes were subjected to great cruelties and hardships, their natural increase was checked, and their numbers had to be recruited by repeated importations. This traffic constantly increased, until at the beginning of the nineteenth century, slaves were being imported at the rate of over 10,000 per year."

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Traditional Navigation in the Western Pacific

Traditional Navigation in the Western Pacific. Provides research information and historical facts about the traditional navigation skills handed down from generation to generation in the Micronesian Islands.

From the site:

Is there a primitive mentality essentiallydifferent from a civilized one?

Or do people learn and mentally organize their experience in similar ways in spite of differences in their cultures and in the content of what they have to learn?

We know that all people, if raised in the appropriate environment, prove capable of learning to speak any language and to think and operate effectively in the context of any culture. But what about different people's traditional bodies of specialized lore? Are they organized in similar ways, or not? Cognitive psychologists are interested in understanding how specialists mentally process and store their knowledge so that they can retrieve it as needed.

Traditional navigators of the Central Caroline Islands provide a case in point. The Carolinian art of navigation includes a sizable body of knowledge developed to meet the needs of ocean voyaging for distances of up to several hundred miles among the tiny islands and atolls of Micronesia. Lacking writing, local navigators have had to commit to memory their knowledge of the stars, sailing directions, seamarks, and how to read the waves and clouds to determine currents and predict weather.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The Real Story of the Ancient Olympic Games

The Real Story of the Ancient Olympic Games - Were the ancient games better than ours? More fair and square? More about sports and less about money? Are modern games more sexist? More political? Have we strayed from the ancient Olympic ideal?

From the site:

The ancient Olympic Games were primarily a part of a religious festival in honor of Zeus, the father of the Greek gods and goddesses. The festival and the games were held in Olympia (see 'Did you know' in the glossary), a rural sanctuary site (model shown here, courtesy of the British Museum) in the western Peloponnesos.

The Greeks that came to the Sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia shared the same religious beliefs and spoke the same language. The athletes were all male citizens of the city-states from every corner of the Greek world, coming from as far away as Iberia (Spain) in the west and the Black Sea (Turkey) in the east.

The sanctuary was named in antiquity after Mt. Olympos (see 'Did you know' in the glossary), the highest mountain in mainland Greece. In Greek mythology, Mt. Olympos was the home of the greatest of the Greek gods and goddesses.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

History Standards in the Fifty States

History Standards in the Fifty States. This essay looks at attempts in the United States to devise a core or common body of history knowledge that all students should be exposed to and hopefully learn. This article primarily looks at statistics and progress which has been made in this area and includes a substantial reference list.

From the site:

During the past ten years, there has been a movement among state education departments to develop academic content standards, standards-based assessments of student achievement, and standards-related high school graduation requirements for students. This Digest discusses (1) state content standards in history for students, (2) standards-based student assessment and graduation requirements, and (3) recommendations for improving history education through content standards, assessments of student achievement in history, and graduation requirements.


The National History Standards emerged in the 1990s as part of the federal government's Goals 2000 agenda (The Center for History in the Schools 1996). Most of the states subsequently developed state content standards for their students. Each of the states (except Iowa and Rhode Island) has developed content standards pertaining to history, the social sciences, or social studies. A recent survey investigated whether or not states had created standards specific to the discipline of history and the extent to which these standards required students to engage in historical thinking (Brown and Patrick 2003, 5-6).

Monday, January 31, 2005

History of Czech Republic

History of Czech Republic. This is a good summary and overview to the history of this European nation.

From the site:

The Czech Republic was the western part of the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic. Formed into a common state after World War I (October 28, 1918), the Czechs, Moravians, and Slovaks remained united for almost 75 years. On January 1, 1993, the two republics split to form two separate states.

The Czechs lost their national independence to the Hapsburgs Empire in 1620 at the Battle of White Mountain and for the next 300 years were ruled by the Austrian Monarchy. With the collapse of the monarchy at the end of World War I, the independent country of Czechoslovakia was formed, encouraged by, among others, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.

Despite cultural differences, the Slovaks shared with the Czechs similar aspirations for independence from the Hapsburg state and voluntarily united with the Czechs. For historical reasons, Slovaks were not at the same level of economic and technological development as the Czechs, but the freedom and opportunity found in Czechoslovakia enabled them to make strides toward overcoming these inequalities. However, the gap never was fully bridged, and the discrepancy played a continuing role throughout the 75 years of the union.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Himeji Castle

Himeji Castle - Detailed, illustrated history and description of this fine early 17th century castle and discussion of the technical orginality of its construction by a Japanese engineering company.

From the site:

A white castle tower looms high in the sky. Around it, numerous turrets and plaster walls are arranged. Stone walls describe elegant curves. This symmetrically beautiful silhouette reproduces the graceful figure of a heron about to take wing at any moment.

This Himeji Castle, otherwise called "Shirasagijo" (White Heron Castle), is situated in Himeji City of Hyogo prefecture about 50 km west of Osaka. It is about 370 years since Himeji Castle was constructed in its present shape. This is the only excellent castle which architecturally represents Japanese culture and, at the same time, has handed down its original design at the time of construction.

Looking up at Himeji Castle, not a few people might think about this unique Japanese architectural beauty that was not influenced either by Chinese or Western culture, despite the remains of the age of civil wars.