Pangea – Old Family Photo of the World

Monday Map
Pangea, the prehistoric landmass, with modern day borders

Without accounting for changes in sea level, etc. here is a wonderful look at our world map reformed into the super continent known as Pangea.

Some 300 millions years ago, almost a 100 million years before the first dinosaur, things looked a little different than today.

And I thought my treasured globe from 1946 was exotic!

(Click for Larger View of Pangea)

Pangea with modern day borders

Of course a rough approximation, it is still a fascinating study back through the long strange trip of geologic time.

An equally fascinating discussion exists at, from whence this map was borrowed.

Underground Rail Road Routes – Martin Luther King Day

Monday Map
Underground Rail Road Routes Leading to Canada

I was surprised to find this on a U-Haul truck directly in front of my home in Brooklyn, NY.

Underground Rail Road Routes - Martin Luther King Day

As most schoolchildren learn, the Underground Railroad was a loose network of people throughout the United States who assisted runaway slaves trying to reach Canada, or other parts of America that refused to recognize the laws saying human slaves were property that must be returned to their owners.

In my little hometown in northwest Ohio, there was a house with a hidden room reputed to have provided sanctuary for fugitive slaves on their way to Ontario. And here in Brooklyn, the church where abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher preached had a secret tunnel that led to the East River, for the same purpose.

During the colonial period, Brooklyn contained a plantation with more slaves than anywhere else in the north. Across the East River, New York of the 1820s had more slaves than any city other than Charleston, South Carolina, and the area in Kings County around Brooklyn likewise had many people still enslaved. It is hard to imagine how anyone in a civilized nation could be capable of such monstrous barbarity. And yet, it was not all that long ago.

So, this seemed a most appropriate map for today, the Martin Luther King federal holiday, in this particular year of 2014, the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Half a century ago today, African-Americans were not yet afforded full protection of equal rights as citizens of the United States in many places in the country. And large populations of whites, including government officials, staunchly opposed the very idea, some going even as far as committing terrorist acts, including murder, to derail the freedom train that once road the routes of the Underground Railroad.

And 100 years before that, the nation was deep into a bloody civil war ignited primarily because of slavery, and the issue of whether or not individual states had the right to continue that institution regardless of possible prohibition under federal law. The outcome of that war was far from certain when, on January 19, 1864, General Grant, then leading the Division of the Mississippi, wrote to General George Henry Thomas to explain there was a shortage of troops, as many were sent home on furloughs to see their families, as reward for reenlisting. Once the winter ended they would begin the invasion of the Deep South, and the battles with the most horrendous loss of life lay ahead.

President Lincoln was up for re-election in the fall, with considerable opposition to his policies. And the Senate was on the verge of debating the passage of Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It would pass on April 8. But the House of Representatives would not pass it until December of 1865, nine months after the President’s assassination.

One hundred and fifty years later, in 1964, descendants of all those freed slaves were still suffering under the apartheid system known in America as Segregation. Even after the Civil Rights Act became law, there were many struggles ahead. Dr. King, the courageous and charismatic leader among civil rights activists was still on the front lines of that cause four years later, when he met his own death from an assassin’s bullet.

The U-Haul truck in question apparently originated in Ontario. But it had been rented in Brooklyn by the new lodger moving in to share my apartment. By no means fleeing slavery, she was escaping from a different sort of domestic hell, at less cost than professional movers.

It helps illustrate just how much effort one will put into labor when they are working for themselves, rather than working to make some rich guy even richer.

Bravo for U-Haul. You can find more interesting regional and commemorative artwork at

Early American Guitars: the Instruments of C.F. Martin – Metropolitan Museum of Art

Early American Guitars: The Instruments of C. F. Martin ivory fingerboard Metropolitan Museum of Art

An after-hours reception was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last night, where an invited group of some 60 guests were treated to a private viewing of the exhibit Early American Guitars: the Instruments of C.F. Martin, which opened to the public earlier that day.

The exhibit is located in the museum’s André Mertens Galleries for Musical Instruments, Gallery 684, now through December 7, 2014.

Trained in the Vienna style of guitar making championed by Johann Stauffer, Christian Frederick Martin emigrated from Saxony to New York City in 1833, where he set up business on Hudson Street, near the present location of the Holland Tunnel. By the 1840s he had moved to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, where his great-great-great-grandson, C.F. Martin IV currently serves as C.E.O. of the family business, one of the oldest in the USA. In time, C.F. Sr. experimented his way to inventing a guitar design that was uniquely American, and which evolved directly into almost every flattop steel-string acoustic guitar seen today.

Historic Display

This exhibition features the largest collection of Martin’s work ever put on public display, culled from private collections and Martin Guitar’s own museum, to augment instruments already at the Met. While Martins made before the Civil War are extremely rare, present are some of the most visually exquisite examples, many with ornate inlay and decoration, as well as the most historically significant, including the earliest known guitar to feature the X-brace pattern supporting the soundboard, ubiquitous among modern guitars, and the earliest guitar yet discovered that bears Martin’s signature. Also included in the exhibit of thirty-five instruments are some made by other lesser known luthiers from America, as well as Austro-German and Spanish guitars with designs that influenced Martin’s earlier development.

Early American Guitars: the Instruments of C.F. Martin Metropolitan Museum of Art receptionIn addition to select museum supporters, in attendance was Kerry Keane of Christie’s, guitarists Woody Mann and Craig Thatcher, veteran dealers in Martins and other guitars such as Stan Jay of Mandolin Brothers, Steve Uhrick of Musurgia, Fred Oster of Vintage Instruments, Buzzy Levine of Lark St. Music, Jim Bollman of the Music Emporium, and Matt Umanov of Umanov Guitars, along with luthiers Rudy Pensa, Steven Kovacik, and David LaPlante. It was LaPlante whose detective work recognized and established the likely influence upon Martin by builders of the Cadiz style of Spanish guitars, which evolved parallel to the Viennese style. His findings make up a key chapter in the new book that has come out in conjunction with the exhibit.

Published by Hal Leonard Books, Inventing the American Guitar: The Pre-Civil War Innovations of C.F. Martin and His Contemporaries is comprised of beautiful photography, and essays by several experts in nineteenth-century musical instruments. It also features a concise and most excellent forward by the Met’s own Jayson Kerr Dobney, Associate Curator in the Department of Musical Instruments. Peter Szego, the mastermind behind the book, was also present for the viewing and reception. An in-depth review of the book is slated for later this month at

Mystery Solved

During a chat with Chris Martin, he revealed to me that he had spent much of his life wondering how and why his illustrious ancestor made the leap from the Stauffer-style parlor guitars to his own unique design that gave rise to modern American guitars. It was only when the book project and exhibit came together that it became clear it was actually a three-point process. He began with Viennese guitars, started making Spanish guitars to appeal to a broader range of customers, and ultimately combined them with his innovative bracing patterns to arrive at the design that would instigate the evolution toward today’s steel-string guitars.

“Now I understand why he used a fake Spanish foot!” Chris said, after thinking about the implications. “You know, he would put a Spanish foot inside the guitar, even though he was using a dovetail neck joint. So he would put in a fake one that didn’t do anything. I guess because people who liked Spanish guitars probably wanted to see that feature.”

 Woody Mann, Matt Umanov, Early American Guitars: The Instruments of C. F. Martin

Woody Mann and Matt Umanov

 Martin Guitar executives Metropolitan Museum of Art Early American Guitars: The Instruments of C. F. Martin

Martin Executives with
C.F. Martin IV and Peter Szego
(center two figures)

 Craig Thatcher, Nyke van Wyk, Early American Guitars: The Instruments of C. F. Martin

Nyke van Wyk and
Craig Thatcher

 Music with Mustard Seed and Cornichons

Martins of that era sported gut strings and were played by concert artists and discerning amateurs to perform classical music. Today, steel-string Martins are the premier choice of acoustic guitars for players of bluegrass, country, folk, and rock n roll. Modern Martins are represented in the exhibit by the 1939 000-42 that Eric Clapton used in his trendsetting performance on MTV-Unplugged, on loan from the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Another seen last night was found in the hands of Craig Thatcher, who performed on an Eric Clapton signature model, while the guests enjoyed the latter part of the evening conversing over a lavish offering of crudité, smoked salmon and local farm cheeses.

Additional Events

There will be a series of concerts in conjunction with the exhibit by recording artists like Rosanne Cash, and Laurence Juber, as well as free live performances in the museum’s Charles Engelhard Court throughout the year. In addition, at least two educational programs are currently scheduled: How Did They Do That?; Early American Guitars will take place on March 8 and 9; and a Sunday at the Met presentation is set for March 16.


A very special thank you to Dick Boak, Head of Artist Relations at C.F. Martin & Co., for the invitation, and everything else he has ever done since the day he was caught taking scrap wood out of a Martin dumpster and given a job at the factory.

For more information on Early American Guitars: the Instruments of C.F. Martin go to:

Photo Gallery from exhibit, for those who cannot make it to NYC to see it

Early American Guitars: the Instruments of C.F. Martin Metrpolitcan Museum of Art door

Related Reading:

Impressionists, Fashion and Modernity at the Metropolitan Museum of Art – a review

Martin Authentic Series – detailed reviews of exacting replicas of vintage pre-war Martins

Metric System Usage

Monday Map
Countries That Do Not Use The Metric System

Countries That Do Not Use The Metric System

Source: Wikimedia Commons

As a proud American, I join with my countrymen as I dig my heels in, fold my arms and say, “I am not budging one inch.”

Okay, while I might budge an inch in some instances, I will certainly not budge a centimeter. I do not even know what a centimeter is. I mean, I know it is a unit of measurement and that 10 centimeters is a decimeter and that 100 of them is a meter (or a metre, as those perplexing foreigners insist on putting it.) But how long is that? Don’t ask me; I am an American.

I can instantly project my thought out exactly one mile. I can picture the distance and multiply it so that I have confidence in just how far away from my present position is a point 3 miles off, or 5 miles.

I haven’t played football in maybe 20 years and much longer when it comes to suiting up in pads. But if it were Second Down and 4 yards to go, I know exactly where I would have to make the cut on my passing route if I am to catch the ball beyond the First Down marker.

But how long is 4 meters? I have not a clue.

I have always taken quiet satisfaction that a kilometer was not quite as long as (and therefore wimpier) than a good old mile. So I am a bit miffed when reminded that a meter is actually longer than a yard. The very idea!

But it is okay; this time next week I will no longer remember that. Why would I?

Like all right-thinking people, such as we Americans, along with Liberians and those staunch defenders of traditional values living in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, no effort to brainwash us with logical Base 10 measurements can penetrate, let alone sink in. None of this newfangled metric nonsense for us. No sirree bob.

The metric system got its start in the French Revolution, perpetrated by that mob of malcontents who were inspired by long-haired radicals with names like George Washington, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin. Apparently the French had been using all sorts of measurement systems, many not all that easy to translate into others. So in 1799, these proto-terrorists scrapped the whole shebang and forced their single system on the people.

The English, on the other hand, already had one set of measurements for the entire realm, which for some reason is perfectly all right. And the English handed that system down to us, their more highly-evolved cousins, before it was too late.

Unlike the ludicrous metric system, where the meter is a Base 10 fraction of the circumference of the earth, and the liter is based upon the weight of water at its melting point, and with centigrade temperatures based on the freezing and boiling points of water, our superior system is based on things that actually make sense.

The mile, as everyone knows, is 8 furlongs in length, a furlong being 1/24 of a league. A furlong, sensibly enough, is the length of one furrow of plowed earth in a typical English field, or 40 rods. The fact no one could quite agree on the length of a rod, let alone the cupids making up a rod, or that the length of a field varies from place to place, is beside the point.

And when it comes to temperature, in 1724 Mr. Fahrenheit stuck a mercury thermometer into some icy saltwater and decided that was 0, and then he stuck one into a human armpit and decided that was 96, which was later refined to 98.6. See? Isn’t that so much better than having water freeze at 0 and boil at 100?

The metric system was officially recognized for use in the USA in 1866. It was refined and revised for the international community in 1960. Concerted efforts were made in the 1970s to indoctrinate the youth of America so that they would be ready for full conversion by the turn of the century. And while various Poindexters may have picked up some metric-savvy skills in Science class, the conversion rate of us true Americans has come nowhere near estimates.

Not by a mile.

And that is one man’s word on…

Countries That Do Not Use The Metric System

More Monday Maps

More Humor Posts and Articles at One Man’s World

Hubble Unveils Pandora’s Blue Galaxies

Hubble image of Pandora's clust Abell 2744

Hubble Space Telescope (HST) peered through the veil of  Pandora’s Cluster and discovered a provocative sight.

So named because it is thought to have formed from a violent colliding of several galaxy clusters, Pandora’s Cluster is officially named Abell 2744. The scientists with their eye on Hubble’s peep hole used the cluster’s immense gravitational effects as a lens to magnify far deeper, older galaxies hiding behind it.

Each point of light in the image is an entire galaxy, containing many billions of stars. Those in the background have never before been detected. Because light travels at 700 million miles an hour, the farther away the galaxy the farther back in time we see it.

Found lurking behind Pandora’s cluster were 3,000 of the earliest galaxies yet discovered, many of which appear in the image as blue arcs and blobs. At least four of these new galaxies are seen as they were 13.5 billion years ago, a mere 500 million years after the Big Bang that gave rise to our current universe. And all of this, in one small patch of the night sky that appears blank to the human eye.

In a paper made available through the Cornell University Library, a team led by astrophysicists Hakim Atek and Johan Richard presented the findings from their deep field observations of galaxy cluster Abell 2744 combining newly acquired near-infra red data with optical images taken from the NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and those acquired though the Spitzer Space Telescope, of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, at the California Institute of Technology.

According to the paper, which can be read HERE, “The Hubble Frontier Fields (HFF) program combines the capabilities of the Hubble Space Telescope with the gravitational lensing of massive galaxy clusters to probe the distant Universe to an unprecedented depth.” This is only the first attempt at this new method of peering into the secrets of the early Cosmos, and is basically a test run. “Although based on a shallower observations than what will be achieved in the final dataset” this first attempt to combine the multiple observations of Abell 2744 have provided results “generally in agreement with the most recent blank field estimates, confirming the feasibility of surveys through lensing clusters.”

Among the many new discoveries within the initial findings include the fact that many of these early galaxies are considerably brighter than they expected, up to 20 times more luminous than predicted. “There are strange things happening… we’re suddenly seeing luminous, massive galaxies quickly build up at such an early time… They were much larger than we expected to find. Only 1% of our Milky Way. But that is a big galaxy for that early era,” said Dr. Garth Illingworth from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

The image at the top of this post is the first to come from Hubble’s Frontier Fields observing programme, which is using the magnifying power of enormous galaxy clusters to peer deep into the distant Universe. According to NASA,  Abell 2744 is but the first of six targets that the Hubble’s Frontier Fields observing programme will focus on. “This three-year, 840-orbit programme will yield our deepest views of the Universe to date, using the power of Hubble to explore more distant regions of space than could otherwise be seen, by observing gravitational lensing effects around six different galaxy clusters.”

Hubble space telescope view of Pandora's ClusterAbell 2744 combining viable light, X-rays, and artist enhanced dark matter


NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, official site

Scientific American

BBC Story

Washington Post

Johnny Cash: The Life, by Robert Hilburn – Book Review

More than just another Johnny Cash biography, Robert Hilburn’s latest volume reexamines the rags to riches details of this unique example of the American Dream with its extremes of peaks and pitfalls, as lived by one the nation’s most iconic musical artists.

The result is an insightful yet sympathetic analysis that conjures up the late Man in Black in living color, and argues that his was a life worth recounting, just as his art will be worth revisiting long after his era has passed.

“…While he makes a point to credit each and every source, it is Hilburn’s ability to include the many quoted snap-shots within the smooth emulsion of his own smart prose that keeps the focus on events as they happen, present and alive. And his insistence on allowing others to speak with emotion and opinion, while he sticks to the facts and resists any temptation at grand conclusions that provides a sense of authenticity to the story, and keeps the pages turning….”

Read the Full Review