Friday, November 22, 2013

Holidays for November 22nd 2013

John F. Kennedy's Assassination

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time (18:30 UTC) on Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was fatally shot by a sniper while traveling with his wife Jacqueline, Texas Governor John Connally, and Connally's wife Nellie, in a presidential motorcade. A ten-month investigation in 1963–64 by the Warren Commission concluded that Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, and that Jack Ruby also acted alone when he killed Oswald before he could stand trial.

Although the Commission's conclusions were initially supported by a majority of the American public, polls conducted between 1966 and 2003 found that as many as 80 percent of Americans have suspected that there was a plot or cover-up. A 1998 CBS News poll showed that 76% of Americans believed the President had been killed as the result of a conspiracy. A 2013 AP poll showed, that although the percentage had fallen, more than 59% of those polled still believed that more than one person was involved in the President's murder.

In contrast to the conclusions of the Warren Commission, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded in 1978 that Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The HSCA found the original FBI investigation and the Warren Commission Report to be seriously flawed. While agreeing with the Commission that Oswald fired all the shots which caused the wounds to Kennedy and Connally, the HSCA stated that there were at least four shots fired (only three of which could be linked to Oswald) and that there was "...a high probability that two gunmen fired at [the] President."

The HSCA did not identify any other person or group involved in the assassination besides Oswald, but they did specifically say the CIA, the Soviet Union, organized crime, and several other groups were not involved, although they could not rule out the involvement of individual members of those groups. Kennedy's assassination is still the subject of widespread debate and has spawned numerous conspiracy theories and alternative scenarios.

Go for A Ride Day

If you’re feeling a little stressed out these days, November 22 may be right up your alley! It’s Go for A Ride Day, an annual “holiday” that serves as a reminder to live a little! While the origins of this holiday are unknown, Go for a Ride Day provides the perfect excuse to stop what you are doing and go for a nice ride.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles
In honor of the special occasion, why not hop on the car, bike or motorcycle? Heck, you could even hitch a ride on a boat, ferry, train, carriage or horse! And if you happen to have snow in your neck-of-the-woods, why not get out the ole’ sled or go for a sleigh ride? A skateboard or Pogo stick could also do the trick. Or how does a ride in a hot-air balloon sound right about now? Whether your ride of choice has two wheels, three wheels, four wheels or no wheels at all, just get out of the house or office and head for the great outdoors. Roll the windows down (if there are any), get some fresh air and enjoy all the sights and sounds Mother Nature has to offer.

Happy Go for a Ride Day!

National Stop the Violence Day

Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding. –Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sadly, violence is an inherent human trait, one we once relied upon for survival. What many people refer to as the “Warrior Gene” are genes in our DNA that scientists have identified which cause rage, anger, and allow us to take risks that may put ourselves in danger. The problem is that even though violence nowadays really shouldn’t be needed for survival, it is still heavily relied upon for any sort of conflict resolution. Whether that is between students or athletes, strangers or loved ones, there is a wide spectrum of reasons people often come to blows, or worse yet, use weapons upon each other to resolve their differences.

As time has shown, violence in all forms is here to stay. Between domestic disputes, school yard scuffles, gang rivalries, and at times even pure hatred, there are a number of catalysts which can cause a violent incident to occur. And though we may not be able to help reduce the reasons for violence in many cases, there are a number of steps that can be taken to help prevent or mitigate their occurrences. With November 22nd being National Stop The Violence Day, let’s go over what you can do to help reduce violent outbreaks from occurring in your area.

Set Up a Neighborhood Watch
Creating a neighborhood watch or community patrol is a great way to let people in your community know that violence and crime in general will not only not be tolerated, but firmly prevented. You should be sure to work hand in hand with the police, and it is important to get the community as a whole to rally behind the idea. If the neighborhood as a whole does not work together in unison, and only a few participate or agree with it, than you will have nothing more than a few vigilantes roaming the streets.

Crime of all sorts is usually kept in the dark for good reason, and as such, the more visible areas are, the less likely crime is to occur there. Making sure your streets as well as homes are properly illuminated is a great way to deter criminal activity.

Community Involvement for Youths
When you speak of making positive changes for the future, you must first make positive changes to those shaping that future. This begins with our youths, and without positive influences and ways to spend their time, they are bound to get into trouble. You may have heard the saying, “The Devil finds employment for the idle”, and nothing could be further from the truth. How can violence occur when there is no time for it? Or especially when you push violent thoughts to the back of a person’s mind because they are otherwise engaged and focused on positive activities. A community can put together organized recreational times, tutoring programs, part-time work or employment, and even volunteer opportunities.

Know How to Defend Yourself
It’s been long understood that thugs, bullies, and criminals generally prey on the weak. If you know you can defend yourself, you will generally act, speak, and walk in a more confident manner. This alone can help to deter violence from being directed at you. For children, a violent bully will not target another child who cannot be bullied. It’s important to realize you cannot give a child confidence; they have to find it and earn it on their own. This means having confidence in themselves and in their abilities.

Inaction Equals Allowance
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. When preventing violence, if you are not a direct part of the solution, you only help promote the problem. If you don’t stand up for what you believe in, and make yourself heard, no one will know what you want. A safe community cannot be wished for, but only had after actively working toward that goal. Report crimes, any suspicious activity you’ve witnessed, and even agree to testify when necessary. If you don’t do anything to prevent violence, nothing will be done.

Mind Your Manners
They say you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar and for many violent outbreaks if only one side refused to allow it to escalate to violence, than the problem may be resolved without incident. This is obviously hard if you’ve been insulted, heckled, or bullied, but when able, turning the other cheek is the most admirable thing to do. This is extremely important to teach children early on as kindness and understanding, sympathy and patience are not inherent traits of ours. They have to be taught and exemplified.

It is obvious that overall, education is required to reduce the frequent occurrences of violence. But there are a few things that both adults and children should learn. For starters, owning a firearm is both a privilege and right of an American Citizen. If you own a gun, knowing how to properly use, clean, and store your gun is important. But so is teaching those around you who don’t know, including friends, family members, and most importantly children. Video games have in recent years come under intense scrutiny for their violence. But whether violence is shown on tv, played in a video games, heard in music, or read in a book, it is important to make sure children know the difference between real life and the fiction they view around them. Finally, specifically for young children and aside from self-defense, teaching specific things to keep them safe should be a top priority. Where to run to if scared or in need of help, how not to trust strangers, emergency contact information such as memorizing family phone numbers and addresses, even certain parts of town to stay away from. Anything and everything helps, you just have to make sure you explain it to them and that they fully understand and remember what was told.

Humane Society Anniversary Day

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization, rated the most effective by its peers. Since 1954, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. We rescue and care for tens of thousands of animals each year, but our primary mission is to prevent cruelty before it occurs. We're there for all animals, across America and around the world.

The HSUS seeks a humane and sustainable world for all animals—a world that will also benefit people. We are America's mainstream force against cruelty, exploitation and neglect, as well as the most trusted voice extolling the human-animal bond.

Our mission statement: Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty.

We work to reduce suffering and to create meaningful social change for animals by advocating for sensible public policies, investigating cruelty and working to enforce existing laws, educating the public about animal issues, joining with corporations on behalf of animal-friendly policies, and conducting hands-on programs that make ours a more humane world. We are a leading disaster relief agency for animals, and we provide direct care for thousands of animals at our sanctuaries and rescue facilities, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and mobile veterinary clinics.

We celebrate pets, as well as wildlife and habitat protection. We are the nation's most important advocate for local humane societies, providing shelter standards and evaluations, training programs, a national advertising campaign to promote pet adoption, direct support, and national conferences. We operate a Humane Wildlife Services program in the D.C. metro area to provide homeowners and businesses with humane and effective solutions to conflicts with our wild neighbors. We promote scientific innovation by driving the development of humane alternatives to replace harmful animal experiments. The HSUS publishes All Animals, a membership magazine, and Animal Sheltering, a bi-monthly magazine for animal sheltering professionals.

We confront national and global cruelties through major campaigns targeting the barbaric practices of dogfighting and cockfighting; abusive puppy mills where dogs are treated not like family but like production machines; the worst cruelties of factory farming in modern agribusiness such as confinement of animals in crates and cages; inhumane and unsporting hunting practices such as "canned hunts" of captive exotic animals; the suffering of animals in experimentation, including chimpanzees and pets; the slaughter of American horses for export to foreign countries where horse meat is considered a delicacy; and the clubbing of baby seals and other animals for the commercial fur trade. Our track record of effectiveness has led to meaningful victories for animals in Congress, state legislatures, courtrooms and corporate boardrooms.

Start Your Own Country Day

November 22nd was, apparently, Create Your Own Country Day. I can’t find a site talking about it specifically (yet), but I did find this site that talked about the idea started at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, of creating these autonomous entities that offer freedom from whatever the creator is seeking freedom for. It’s fun to scroll down and read the different ideas of sovereign localities, or even mobile ones. I think the idea is mostly for fun and posterity, but I’m sure there are those who are more serious about it.

It brings up some interesting ideas of what people are thinking regarding this. You’re always going to find people who want to live where they live, but don’t want to live under the construct of current government (whether it be dictatorship or democracy). But how does that work. If you and some others declare independence from a country, in general, how much do you have to think through to make everything work correctly. For starters, you have to think about all the services you now receive from the government in one form or another, like police, utilities, armed protection from external threats (not that you’d always need that, but the larger the country you are, the more of these things you’ll need.

Police for instance. If I declared my block an independent country, the police and fire departments wouldn’t automatically be obligated to protect me if someone crossed my borders to rob my house, or set it afire, or whatever. That stuff is paid for by the taxes you provide, but it’s assumed that you wouldn’t be paying those taxes anymore. Or would it? I suppose that you could work out an “international agreement” with the local government you were surrounded by and offer them a fee for providing services to your tiny country.

Also, although some of these countries identify vast freedoms, like this one called Freedom Ship: ” A city that floats around the world and allows freedom from restrictive government.” But unless you want your citizens to eventually start killing or cheating each other, there have to be rules. A society without rules will eventually destroy itself, thus our Constitution and rule of law. So you can never get completely away from “restrictive” government.

A more serious question. If a group of people really disliked a country, say the U.S.A., and wanted to secede, would the U.S. let them? How resistant would our country be if someone wanted to separate on their private property? At what point do you claim that this is overly restrictive on the part of our government when you might argue that the Kurds should have been able to separate from Iraq under Saddam or from Turkey and Iran. If you think that Tibet should be it’s own country, how can you argue that people can’t unite to form their own country out of a portion of North America where they live? And conversely, if you don’t support that type of thing here in America (a-la President Lincoln, Civil war, etc.) can you argue for Tibet?

PS. There are also books out there on how to start your own country.

National Cranberry Relish Day

What would Thanksgiving be without Cranberry Relish or Sauce? It’s the staple everyone has come to expect with their Thanksgiving meal. As a child I assumed the decorated plate of red circles were merely adornment for the table (that’s right, we opened cans, plopped the ridged sauce on a plate and sliced). We’ve come a long way. Sauces and relishes have become art, with added fruits and flavors. I was searching for the history of this lovely red relish and found the following to be much more interesting.

The smaller cranberry's botanical name, vaccinium oxycoccos, comes from the Latin vacca, meaning cow because cows seem to be fond of them. Oxycoccos refers to the sharp leaves of the plant. This variety is primarily known in Europe. In North America, the large-berry variety isV. macrocarpon, from macro which means large, with oval leaves.

The English word cranberry is the shortened version of craneberry,which came from the plant's flowers that dip down and resemble the head of a crane. These birds are also fond of the berries which grow in bogs where cranes make their home. In Canada, cranberries are often referred to by their Amerindian name, atoca.Cranberries are also known as bounceberries, because they literally bounce if dropped when fresh and bearberry, since bears also love them.

Highbush cranberries (Viburnum trilobum) are a completely different fruit of the honeysuckle family, although similar in appearance. Highbush cranberries grow on a shrub with pointed leaves where cranberries grow on a vine with oval leaves. Highbush cranberries have a single seed which is not eaten. They can be used interchangeably in any recipe using pureed cranberries, once the seeds have been removed using a sieve.

The Pilgrims learned all about cranberries from the Native Americans, who recognized the natural preservative power (benzoic acid) in the berries and often mixed them into pemmican (dried meat mixture) to extend its shelf life.

Cranberry sauce came into the picture via General Ulysses S. Grant who ordered it served to the troops during the siege of Petersburg in 1864. Cranberry sauce was first commercially canned in 1912 by the Cape Cod Cranberry Company which marketed the product as "Ocean Spray Cape Cod Cranberry Sauce." A merger with other growers evolved into the well-known Ocean Spray corporation now famous for their cranberry products.

National Cashew Day

Today is National Cashew Day! Whether you like them plain, salted, roasted, or coated in sugar, cashews are a delicious treat! Although cashews are popular in Thai, Indian, and Chinese cuisines, they are actually native to Brazil. They have also been widely cultivated in India and Africa ever since the Portuguese exported them during the 16th century.

Did you know that parts of the cashew tree can be used for medicinal and manufacturing purposes? Acid from the cashew nutshells is effective in healing tooth abscesses and the tree's seeds can be ground up into a powder and used as an antivenom for snake bites. The oil from the nutshells is used in brake linings as well as in rubber and plastic materials.

To celebrate National Cashew Day, snack on some cashews or cook them into your favorite recipe!