Forty Minute War

Elsewhere, I wrote about the three hundred and thirty-five year war(1). To fill in the opposite end of the spectrum, I now present to you the “Forty Minute War” otherwise known as the Anglo-Zanzibar War(2). It began something like this:
The Anglo-Zanzibar War was fought between the United Kingdom and Zanzibar on 27 August 1896. The […]

The Bhopal Disaster

China has been in the news a lot recently for its poor health record. It is a sad fact that they are not the only country with this problem, and that this is not a new problem. Let me take you back to Bhopal, India in December 1984. According to the Wikipedia article(1):
The Bhopal disaster […]

World’s Largest Conventional Explosion

Thirteen miles away (source)

A bit of grim history for you.
The world’s largest conventional explosion (that status a bit disputed) occurred on Thursday, December 6, 1917, when the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, was devastated by the huge detonation of a French cargo ship, fully loaded with wartime explosives, which accidentally collided with a Norwegian […]

Darkness is Coming

The worst part about winter is the lack of daylight. The cold weather is unpleasant, the leafless trees and heaps of snow become monotonous, but the lack of daylight is what saps the life out of you. To get a good idea of exactly how bad it is, imagine how little daylight there is in the darkest days of December–and now imagine a day in late June with the same amount of daylight. It is a green, warm day in June . . . and the sun doesn’t rise until 7:00 AM and it sets at about 4:00 PM. That picture of summer is . . . dark. The very idea seems to suck the life out of summer. And that is what the darkness does to winter. If December was blazing with all the brilliant light of June, it wouldn’t be nearly half so bad as it is, even if it was still cold and full of snow.

The darkness begins to grow oppressive, at the beginning of November. It is like some critical point has been reached, and some switched is flipped. Life has become . . . lifeless. Worse, at the beginning of November there is about two full months of the darkness growing worse before it even starts to get better. At the beginning of November I sit there and think, “Darkness is coming.” Months and months fighting that soul sucking force–not to be too dramatic of anything.

The oppressive darkness will remain until the end of February, but at least with the turning of the new year there is one ray of hope: The world is starting to grow brighter again. Who cares about celebrating the calendar new year–what I want to celebrate is the change to increasing daylight. That is a thing to party about, especially in the middle of the winter.

In this darkest time of the year, a sunny day feels like nothing more than a fleeting hour of light. You turn around once and it is night again, and you didn’t even have a chance to begin enjoying the daylight. And on a cloudy day it feels like the sun has never risen. That time of the summer when a sunny day seemed to go on without an end is now a distant memory, like a dream. Life has become a daily grind where one plods forward, one foot after the last, head down. Occasionally you look up to see only the dreary landscape around you. For a moment you glance ahead, hoping to catch a glimpse of spring, and then you look down, plodding on again, one day of winter leading to the next.

An end does come, eventually. By March the anticipation growing throughout February is ready to burst forth. Hope is on the air. Everything that felt so dull and depressing before is now full of life and ambition. Everything seemed pointless and uninspiring in those winter months. Now in March ambition and plans abound. Nothing feels impossible, or too far fetched.

Yes, March and April are those months when vigor comes rushing back. Every day is a better day, because every day the sun rises earlier, and sets later. Sunny day leads on to sunny day, and even those cloudy rainy days seem more full of life than the best day in the middle of December.

It’s a great time of year. The only problem is that right now this is the first half of December, so all that is still three months away.

It’s going to be a long winter.

Upgrade Success

I think I upgraded this website successfully. More to the point, I believe I successfully updated the RSS feed, which was the only real point of difficulty. During the process of attempting to get the new RSS feed working a number of erroneous posts were sent to the feed. A little embarrassing to blast my readership with my errors, but all in all it went as well as I could have hoped.

So, I now present to you all Silverware Thief 5.0.

The summarized history of this website is as follows:

  • On April 2, 2003 this website was brought into the world with my first post(1). That was Silverware Thief 1.0 (as I call it now) and I’ve been going at it ever since.
  • In late January or February 2004 I implemented my first real design (previously the site has sported a very spartan layout) at which the fork made its appearance. This design was bland but nonetheless was my first distinctive design and I still find something appealing in its simplicity. That was Silverware Thief 2.0.
  • At the end of March-beginning of April 2005 I upgraded my site back-end software from MoveableType 3.15 to WordPress 1.4 and also unveiled a new design–a more sophisticated appearance with the black and white silverware and pen photograph header. That was Silverware Thief 3.0.
  • In May 2007 I unveiled Silverware Thief 4.0. At that point I upgraded to the WordPress 2.1 series for back-end website management and refined and tweaked my previous design, the primary visual change being from a two column layout to a three column presentation. I had great plans(2) for the revamped website, most of which did not come to be–at least not on the scale I dreamed.
  • This brings us to the end of October 2008 and the launch of Silverware Thief 5.0. While the basic look of the website has remained, I have made the text area wider to take advantage of the screen space provided by larger monitors and also have switched back to a two column layout for the present. By far the biggest change is in the back-end, where I switched to WordPress MU 2.6.3(3). This was primarily to make the maintenance and development of this website easier for me, though I hope the fresh organization will be easier for readers to navigate also.

At the time of this writing, Silverware Thief 5.0 still has rough edges. I have theme application I still need to do, and if I can find the time I really need to go back and update the links that were broken in my old posts by the upgrade. There will be future fine-tuning, but the majority of the work is done.

For the technically curious (such as those who maintain their own blog) I may write a post or two about some of the hurdles I had to overcome in this upgrade. But for right now the website is working, and that is enough.



Admiral Yi: The Other Lord Nelson

Many people have heard of Lord Nelson(1) and his famous naval victory in the Battle of Trafalgar(2). Far fewer people have ever heard of Admiral Yi(3) who was every bit as brilliant a naval commander as Lord Nelson, if not more so.

For example, in the Battle of Myeongnyang(4):

on October 26, 1597, the Korean admiral Yi Sunsin fought the Japanese navy at sea in Myeongnyang Strait, near Jindo Island. With only the 13 ships remaining from Won Gyun’s disastrous defeat at the Battle of Chilchonryang, Admiral Yi Sunsin held the strait from a fleet of 133 Japanese warships and at least 200 Japanese logistical support ships. Many Japanese warships were sunk or disabled during the battle and the Japanese were forced to retreat.

Admiral Yi delivered this remarkable victory after his own king had stripped him of his rank and nearly tortured him to death on false charges of treason. The fleet Admiral Yi had carefully built up from 63 ships to 166 was given into the command of a rival admiral–who promptly went off and lost the entire fleet (except for 13 ships) to the Japanese. Admiral Yi was then restored to his command. But King Seonjo, who judged that the Joseon navy had lost their power and would never be restored again, sent a letter to abolish the navy and join the ground forces under General Gwon Yul. To which Admiral Yi responded in his own letter, “…I still own thirteen ships. As I am alive, the enemies will never gain the Western Sea.”

The rest, they say, is history.

Because of his military brilliance and success, Admiral Yi inspired much envy. As a result of this, in the course of his career he was twice falsely accused, stripped of his rank, and tortured. Nonetheless, he continued to faithfully serve his country until his death.He is reputed to be one of the few admirals to have been victorious in every naval battle (at least 23) in which he commanded.

He lived a life one could write a novel about.


Upcoming Site Update

Within the next week (perhaps in the next day or so) I will be updating this website. If all goes well, this will affect none of you. However, there is the possibility that I might somehow screw up the RSS feeds. If you follow this website on an RSS reader and don’t get a new post by the end of next week . . . that will mean I somehow managed to not port the feed smoothly. In that case, you will need to delete the feed from your reader, and come back to this website and pick it back up.

But I hope I don’t make any mistakes, and everything upgrades smoothly, and nobody will need to do anything.