Posted by: bkivey | 19 April 2011

One Spring Day in Massachusetts

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Concord Hymn 1837

Today marks the commencement of combat operations of the American Revolution 236 years ago. Accounts vary on which side fired the first shot; some say militia, some say British regulars, and there are even variations on the first ‘grassy knoll’ theories in American history, where the first shot was claimed to come from inside a tavern or behind a hedge. No matter the source, tensions building for some 15 years boiled over into armed conflict. As militia commander Captain John Parker put it: “Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”

That first action at Lexington would set in motion events culminating 6 years later with the last combat action resulting in the British surrender at Yorktown in October 1781. The end of hostilities would be formalized by the Treaty of Paris, signed on 3 September 1783 and ratified by Congress on 14 January 1784. Thus was the germination of the society that has offered more opportunity to more people than any other in human history.

In modern parlance the rebels would be the progressives and in fact were informed by the radical liberal ideals of the Enlightenment. The 15 – 20% of the population remaining loyal to the Crown (I’m assuming the slave’s opinions weren’t asked) tended to be older and wealthier than the usurpers. The conservative faction, one might say.  After they’d lost political power the Loyalists in many cases elected to emigrate, and those who stayed remained largely free from persecution at the end of hostilities.  I suppose a large part of this civility came from the confidence that comes from defeating the dominant superpower in a military campaign (with some help from the French starting in 1778). When you’ve proven yourself in the arenas of ideas and martial endeavor, there are few who can gainsay you. It might also be noted that with the overthrow of British rule, the mercantile class, from whom many Loyalists came, did very well indeed as they were now free to trade with the world rather than just the Empire and it’s allies.

One Spring day in Wisconsin

As this radar image of Green Bay, WI, and environs shows, it’s snowing in the Badger State this afternoon, with a predicted accumulation of 5 – 8 inches. Green Bay has already broken a 113 year-old record for snow accumulation today. In 1898 1.5 inches fell on 19 April; there’s already 3″ on the ground today with more coming.

I found out that the 100-year (1900 – 2000 ) snowfall average for April in Green Bay is 2.4″, so it’s not like snow is unusual this month. Still, when you’re heading into May I’d think you’d be about over the snow.



Over the weekend I saw something I’d never seen before, my car’s perfect twin. It was the same year, make , model, trim level, and ext/int color. I know that there are only a finite number of combinations possible, and if a car is popular enough there will be more than one clone, but I’d never seen one for my vehicle.


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