The Ludlow Miner’s Strike


Today is the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre in the coal mining region of Colorado. In the fall of 1913, 11,000 miners went on strike, protesting dangerous work conditions and low pay. Evicted from company housing, they set up a tent city for months. The mining company, CF&I, responded by patrolling with an armored car with a mounted machine gun, shooting at the strikers occasionally. There was violence on both sides, with company officials and strikebreakers also fired upon. The National Guard was called in, to the relief of the strikers. But instead of providing protection from violence, the Guard was used to escort scabs into the mines and confiscate striker’s firearms. Matters came to a head on April 20, 1914.

No one knows who fired the first shot. Some soldiers would later testify that the strikers’ bullets were already whizzing at them when an officer set off the three explosive charges that had been prepared as a signal for battle. Others would recall hearing the explosions before any shots. Witnesses on both sides remember a lone figure, Louis Tikas, waving a white handkerchief and running frantically back to the tents, trying to head off disaster.

It was already too late. The militia opened fire on the men in the railroad cut. Linderfelt arrived, and the machine gun was installed on a slight rise overlooking the colony. As the day wore on, shots issued from the tents, and the militia returned fire. Officers would later testify that they’d seen women fleeing earlier and didn’t know there were any noncombatants left in the colony, but it seems hard to believe that the soldiers weren’t aware that the flimsy tents contained scores of the defenseless and unarmed.

As troops tried to close in on the shooters in the railroad cut, Private Alfred Martin was shot in the neck — the first and only militia fatality of the day. A passerby, trying to negotiate the road between the colony and the militia, was killed instantly. Eleven-year-old Frank Snyder, who’d left the protection of a cellar during a lull in the shooting, caught a bullet in the head as he sat in his family’s tent.

That night, the tent city burned, and two women and eleven children were found dead of suffocation in a cellar. In response, the miners went on a ten-day rampage, dynamiting mine facilities and shooting. Six strikers and 24 mine employees were killed during this period before President Wilson sent in federal troops. Somewhere between 69 and 199 people were killed over the course of the strike.

Easter and the Not So Unusual Resurrection Story

Much is made of the resurrection of Jesus, including the claim that it proves he is the son of god, and his return from the dead fulfills the messianic prophecy. It is, in fact, the sole purpose of the Easter season. But what is never discussed in relation to this resurrection is the total lack of uniqueness that it really exemplifies. Here are just a few other examples of resurrections that can be found in the old and new testaments.

Elijah resurrected the son of Zarephath’s widow
1 Kings 17:17-24 (KJV)
17 And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.
18 And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?
19 And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.
20 And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?
21 And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.
22 And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.
23 And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.
24 And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.

Elisha resurrected the son of the great Shunammite woman
This interesting account is recorded in 2 Kings 4. The Shunammite woman had no children. For a woman to be barren in those days was a great source of shame. The word says that her husband was old, which would imply he was unable to produce seed. However, because the Shunammite woman was genuinely kind and generous to the prophet Elisha, he told her she would have a child in one year’s time. God healed her and her husband and she conceived and gave birth to a son.
Later on while working out in the fields something disastrous happens to her son (a head injury or possibly heat stroke) and he dies.  The Shunammite woman hastily went to the prophet Elisha, and she insisted he go to her son and raise him from the dead.
2 Kings 4:35 (KJV)
35 Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.

A dead man comes back to life when he touches Elisha’s bones
Kings 13:21 (KJV)
21 And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.
Even after he was dead, the anointing still remaining in Elisha’s bones raised someone from the dead. Earlier in 2 Kings 2:9, Elisha had boldly requested that he receive a double portion of Elijah’s anointing. However, after Elisha died it looked like it was too late for him to raise twice as many people from the dead as Elijah.
Who would have ever thought that touching Elisha’s bones could raise someone from the dead; certainly not the men that were burying him. Clearly the seeds of faith we sow in the brief time we are in this world continue to grow and accomplish things even after we are long gone.

Jesus resurrects the widow’s son at Nain
Luke 7:13-15 (KJV)
13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.
14 And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.
15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.

Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead
Matthew 9:25 (KJV)
25 But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose.

See also Mark 5:42, and Luke 8:55

Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead
John 11:43-44 (KJV)
43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

Many saints resurrected at Jesus’ crucifixion
Matthew 27:52-53 (KJV)
52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,
53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

If the resurrection of Jesus is such a unique situation that it proves he is the messiah, then why are other resurrections not so unique? In addition to these examples found in the bible, there are thousands of other stories down through the ages, including modern times, when someone assumed to be dead, arose and lived on afterwards. Resurrection stories need to be seen as what they are, stories and examples of folklore, or misidentified signs of death that never actually happened. And this all makes Easter merely a celebration of colored eggs, chocolate bunnies, and marshmallow Peeps, but not a celebration of a unique sign of god come to earth and resurrected for any discernible purpose.

The Panic That Never Happened

orson wellesOn October 30, 1938, from the Mercury Theater in New York City, Orson Welles broadcasted a “modernized” radio play of H.G. Wells’ 1898 novel “War of the Worlds.” For the last three quarters of the century, we’ve been told that this fictionalized CBS broadcast sent Americans into a panic; that citizens across the country did not realize that this was  science-fiction, despite the fact that it was explicitly stated at the beginning and twice during the broadcast, and thought the USA was under attack from an invading Martian army.  Littered with realistic simulated news reports and “eyewitness accounts,” the hour long broadcast was innovative and an extremely entertaining way to present the story.

But in actuality, no such nation-wide panic actually occurred. While there were certainly many exceptions, documented evidence indicates most who listened did know it was a dramatization and were completely aware that New Jersey was not being destroyed by visitors from space. Also, the broadcast didn’t have very good ratings when it first aired; so even if everyone who listened had thought it was real, it wouldn’t have resulted in the level of mass hysteria commonly reported since.

War of the Worlds first appeared in magazines, simultaneously, in the UK and US in 1897. It was published as a book in 1898 and is considered one of the most influential pieces of science-fiction ever written. The Englishmen Herbert George Wells was already quite a famous author by the time he got to Martians attacking Earth. In 1895, he published The Time Machine, The Island of Dr. Moreau in 1896, and The Invisible Man in 1897, securing his position at the time as the world’s best science-fiction writer. After War of the Worlds, he went on to write several more books, including the non-fiction best-selling three-volume Outline of History. 

Wells was a very well-known writer in 1938 and his novels, including War of the Worlds, were widely read on both continents. So, when Orson Welles adapted the novel in 1938, there was nothing particularly new about the story itself. The differences came from the medium and structure of the story-telling. While the 1938 version told the story of the destruction of New Jersey, the 1898 original takes place in Surrey and London, England. Another noteworthy difference between the two works is that H.G.’s version is told through the eyes of an unnamed protagonist and his brother. Orson’s is told through staged news broadcasts and reports.  For instance,”Ladies and gentlemen, I have a grave announcement to make. Incredible as it may seem, both the observations of science and the evidence of our eyes lead to the inescapable assumption that those strange beings who landed in the Jersey farmlands tonight are the vanguard of an invading army from the planet Mars.”

As for the number of listeners, as Orson stepped to the microphone in the evening of the day before Halloween in 1938, there were already several well-known factors that potentially were going to affect the number of people who were actually going to tune in to the broadcast that evening. For one, the very popular Chase and Sanborn Hour, a comedy/variety show hosted by the ventriloquist Edgar Bergen, was airing at the exact same time on a competing radio station, NBC. Additionally, several major CBS affiliates preempted the broadcast for local commercial programing.

Further, as the program progressed, the C.E. Hopper Company called approximately five thousand households to ask the question, “To what program are you listening?” C.E. Hopper was an American company that measured radio ratings for the major networks to see how much they could charge for advertising during a particular program, much like Nielsen ratings today for television. It turns out, only two percent answered something in reference to War of the Worlds on CBS. None of these people spoke of any “news broadcast” or “special bulletin about aliens” either. So besides very few listening in, it would seem those who were all knew it was just a story, which perhaps shouldn’t be a surprise considering it was announced at the beginning and twice during the broadcast.

nytimes panicSo, how did the “The radio broadcast of War of the Worlds created mass hysteria” myth get perpetuated? In short, the media. Newspaper headlines across the country gave the impression that panic gripped the nation: “Radio Fake Scares Nation,” read the Chicago Herald and Examiner; “Fake Radio War Stirs Terror Through US,” was reported in the New York Daily News, accompanied with a picture of a frightened man and a woman with an arm sling whose caption read “war” victim; “Terror by Radio,” could be found in a New York Times editorial.

The newspaper industry had quite a bone to pick with the new medium of radio. As W. Joseph Campbell of American University wrote in the BBC News magazine in 2011, for the 73rd anniversary of the broadcast, “…the so-called ‘panic broadcast’ brought newspapers an exceptional opportunity to censure radio, a still-new medium that was becoming a serious competitor in providing news and advertising.”

That same New York Times editorial with the inflammatory headline had this to say about its new competitor, “Radio is new but it has adult responsibilities. It has not mastered itself or the material it uses.”

Additionally, the newspapers also wanted to sell papers and what better way to do that than using words like “terror” or “panic” or “war.” Using anecdotal and scattered stories, they made it seem like many citizens were ready to bear arms against the alien invaders, but in truth those stories were either very few and far between or in some cases completely made up. According to law enforcement and hospital documentation from the night in question, there were no reports of people taking to the streets with guns, no one taken to the hospital on the account of the radio broadcast, and no known person committing suicide as a result of the broadcast.

The only noticeable effect was that law enforcement saw a spike in calls in the New Jersey area particularly, the site of the supposed attack, on the evening in question, with most simply asking whether the broadcast was a hoax and calling to find out more information. As David Miller points out in his textbook,Introduction to Collective Behavior,”Some callers requested information… Some people called to find out where they could go to donate blood. Some callers were simply angry that such a realistic show was allowed on the air, while others called CBS to congratulate Mercury Theater for the exciting Halloween program.”

war of worldsBut in the end, there was no massive panic and the spike in calls to the police is one of the few bits of evidence we have that at least a small percentage of the listeners had concerns or complaints over the broadcast. Quite simply, newspapers created the “panic” after the fact, including U.S. newspapers writing nearly 13,000 articles on it over the next month, the public swallowed up the newspaper’s reports, and radio and CBS particularly were happy to embrace the claims  as a demonstration of the power of the new medium, which was good for advertising dollars and ratings.

Orson Welles himself believed there had been a mass-panic, rather than simply as it was, a small percentage of the small percentage of the U.S. population listening in believing it was real for a little while despite that during the broadcast it was stated that it wasn’t. The myth of the nation-wide panic has perpetuated itself ever since.

As to the motivation behind presenting the story as real, Orson Welles had this very pertinent thing to say, considering the misinformation the newspapers would spread about the broadcast,”We were fed up with the way in which everything that came over this new magic box, the radio, was being swallowed. People you know do suspect what they read in the newspapers and what people tell them, but when the radio came, and I suppose now television, anything that came through that new machine was believed.  So in a way our broadcast was an assault on the credibility of that machine.  We wanted people to understand that they shouldn’t take any opinion predigested, and they shouldn’t swallow everything that came through the tap whether it was radio or not.  But as I say it was only a partial experiment, we had no idea the extent of the thing…”

The World’s Best Pizza

Italians everywhere may be looking for revenge after the winner of the best pizza was announced at the Pizza World Championship. The coveted top prize of best margherita pizza went to Johnny Di Francesco, an Australian chef.

Di Francesco, also known as “Mr. Pizza,” has been crafting pies from a young age, according to The Guardian. His restaurant, 400 Gradi in Brunswick, showcases the food of Naples which specializes in wood-fired pizza.

“People underestimate the margherita,” the prize-winning chef told the Guardian. “They think it’s the easiest pizzas to make, but it’s one of the hardest. Because it has so few ingredients, you can taste the quality of the dough used. With other pizzas, you can mask that with toppings.”

Under the rules of the competition, a margherita pizza must be under 35cm in diameter, cooked in a wood-fired oven and contain only certain ingredients, such as peeled tomatoes, cheese, garlic, olive oil and salt.The world championships, formally known as the Campionato Mondiale della Pizza was held in Parma, Italy last Friday.

Over 600 chefs attended the event from 35 countries, with six coming from Australia.

Although Di Francesco placed third at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas this past March,he knew the competition would be steeper than ever in Italy.

“I was happy to get into the top five, so to end up number one is a fantastic achievement for me and also for Australia,” he told the Guardian Australia. “It lets the rest of the world know we do produce quality product here in Australia.”

So what’s his secret? The chef uses Italian-imported flour, high-quality buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil.

A Short History of the Lawnmower

Formal lawns covered with short and tended to grass first appeared in France around the 1700s, and the idea soon spread to England and the rest of the world. Lawns were first kept clean and tidy by having animals graze on the grass, or scythe, sickle, or shears were used to hand cut the grass lawns.

The first patent for a mechanical lawn mower described as a “Machine for mowing lawns, etc.” was granted on August 31, 1830 to engineer, Edwin Beard Budding (1795-1846) from Stroud, Gloucestershire, England.

Budding’s design was based on a cutting tool used for the uniform trimming of carpet. It was a reel-type mower that had a series of blades arranged around a cylinder. John Ferrabee owner of Phoenix Foundry at Thrupp Mill, Stroud, first produced the Budding lawn mowers. The first unpatented lawn mower was probaly built by Scotsmen, Alexander Shanks in 1841 – a 27 inch pony drawn reel lawn mower.

The first United States patent for a reel lawn mower was granted to Amariah Hills on January 12, 1868. Early lawn mowers were often designed to be horse drawn, the horses often wore oversize leather booties to prevent lawn damage. In 1870, Elwood McGuire of Richmond, Indiana designed a very popular human pushed lawn mower, not the first to be human pushed, however, McGuire’s design was very lightweight and a commercial success.

Steam powered lawn mowers appeared in the 1890′s. In 1902, Ransomes produced the first commercially available mower powered by an internal combustion gasoline engine. In the United States, gasoline powered lawn mowers were first manufactured in 1919 by Colonel Edwin George.

On May 9, 1899, John Albert Burr patented an improved rotary blade lawn mower.