An original intern of the Viking program recalls the day of the Mars landing.


I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space.—-President Kennedy, Address to Congress, May 25, 1961.

Sky & Telescope.

40th Anniversary of Viking’s Red Planet Rendezvous

By: Richard Tresch Fienberg | July 18, 2016

July 20. The date is instantly recognizable to space enthusiasts as the anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing in 1969. But another major space-exploration anniversary shares the same date. Can you name which one? Perhaps if you’re a Baby Boomer.

On July 20, 1976, NASA’s Viking 1 lander touched down safely on Mars, becoming the first spacecraft to do so. The milestone was originally scheduled for July 4th, to coincide with the U.S. bicentennial celebration. But images from the Viking 1 orbiter — the lander’s mother ship — revealed the planned landing site to be more boulder-strewn than expected. It took 16 days for mission scientists to find a less hazardous alternative. Two months later, on September 3rd, the twin Viking 2 lander also made a successful touchdown.

Viking 1 Lander's first image

The first photo from the surface of Mars shows one of the Viking 1 lander’s footpads.

This past Saturday, July 16th, some 200 of the mission’s surviving scientists and engineers and their families, along with many younger space explorers inspired by the Vikings, gathered at the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum in Denver, Colorado, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Viking 1 landing.
Read More…

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | February 22, 2016

American Life: Safety of the Highways

American Life

In 1926 Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Mfg. Co. begins an advertising campaign targeting independent women.

What will you advise your mother, sister or “the only girl” to do? Stay in the house at night? Try and do it!


Suppose he had not arrived.—Click to View Full-Size.


A tip o’ the hat to Oklahoma Sun.

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | January 24, 2016

Commentary: Happy New Year of the Trees


Cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen—over at the Dry Bones Blog—comments on the start of a Jewish holiday.


So Tu B’Shvat simply means the “15th of Shvat”.


the Dry Bones Blog

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Happy New Year of the Trees


Tu B’Shvat is the Jewish “New Year” of the trees. On Tu B’Shvat we plant trees For future generations. Tu is the number 15 in the biblical numbering system (which uses the letters of the Hebrew Alphabet). B’ is Hebrew for “in”. Shvat is the current month in the Hebrew calendar. …

(Read complete article at original site)

Read More…

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | January 21, 2016

Weekly Story: The Great Seal

Weekly Story

Naval Officer George Henry Preble documents the development of the Great Seal of the United States of America.

Dr. Franklin proposed for the device Moses lifting his wand and dividing the Red Sea, and Pharaoh and his chariot overwhelmed with the waters. For a motto, the words of Cromwell, “REBELLION TO TYRANTS IS OBEDIENCE TO GOD.”




“AS well might the Judas of treason endeavor
To write his black name on the disk of the sun
As try the bright star-wreath that binds us to sever,
And blot the fair legend of ‘Many in One.’”—0. W. Holmes.


Seal commonly used.
Seal commonly used.

DR. Franklin, Mr. John Adams, and Mr. Thomas Jefferson were appointed a committee to prepare a device for a great seal for the United States of America, July 4, 1776,* the very day of the Declaration of Independence.

* Journal of Congress.

Du Simitière, a French West Indian, a silhouette cutter of portraits, and painter of miniatures, water-colors, &c., was called to their assistance, and proposed a device showing on a shield the arms of the nations from whence America was peopled, with a figure of Liberty on one side and an American rifleman on the other for supporters.*

Du Simitière’s Design.
Du Simitière’s Design.

* The illustrations of designs for the great seal are reduced fac-similes of the designs on file in the State Department at Washington, excepting Jefferson’s design, which was drawn by Beason J. Lossing, LL.D., from the description of it reported to Congress. See an interesting article on the subject in ‘Harper’s Magazine,’ for 1856, by Mr. Lossing, also ‘Wells’s Illustrated Handbook,’ 1856, on the great seal of the United States, and the article on ‘The Seal of the United States’ in Nicholson’s Encyclopedia.

Dr. Franklin proposed for the device Moses lifting his wand and dividing the Red Sea, and Pharaoh and his chariot overwhelmed with the waters. For a motto, the words of Cromwell, “REBELLION TO TYRANTS IS OBEDIENCE TO GOD.

Adams proposed ‘The Choice of Hercules,’ as engraved by Gribelin: the hero resting on a club; Virtue pointing to her rugged mountain on one hand, and persuading him to ascend; and Sloth, glancing at her flowery paths of pleasure, wantonly reclining on the ground, displaying the charms both of her eloquence and person to seduce him into vice.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | October 30, 2015

John Quincy Adams: In Search of Monsters

American Thought

Secretary of State John Quincy Adams delivers a requested address on Independence Day.

She has seen that probably for centuries to come, all the contests of that Aceldama, the European world, will be contests of inveterate power, and emerging right. Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions, and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.


delivered at the request of
a committee of the citizens of
The City of Washington
on the occasion of reading
on the
Fourth of July, 1821.



UNTIL within a few days preceding that which we have again assembled to commemorate our fathers, the people of this union had constituted a portion of the British nation; a nation renowned in arts and arms, who, from a small island in the Atlantic ocean, had extended their dominion over considerable parts of every quarter of the globe. Governed themselves by a race of kings, whose title to sovereignty had originally been founded in conquest, spell-bound for a succession of ages under that portentous system of despotism and of superstition which, in the name of the meek and humble Jesus, had been spread over the Christian world, the history of this nation had, for a period of seven hundred years, from the days of the conquest till our own, exhibited a conflict almost continual, between the oppressions of power and the claims of right. In the theories of the crown and the mitre, man had no rights. Neither the body nor the soul of the individual was his own. From the impenetrable gloom of this intellectual darkness, and the deep degradation of this servitude, the British nation had partially emerged, The martyrs of religious freedom had consumed to ashes at the stake: the champions of temporal liberty had bowed their heads upon the scaffold; and the spirits of many a bloody day had left their earthly vesture upon the field of battle, and soared to plead the cause of liberty before the throne of Heaven. The people of Britain, through long ages of civil war, had extorted from their tyrants, not acknowledgments, but grants of right. With this concession they had been content to slop in the progress of human improvement. They received their freedom as a donation from their sovereigns; they appealed for their privileges to a sign manual and a seal; they held their title to liberty, like their title to lands, from the bounty of a man; and in their moral and political chronology, the great charter of Runnimead was the beginning of the world.

Read More…

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | August 19, 2015

Weekly Story: Apollonius Approaches Rome.

Weekly Story

Apollonius of Tyana and his party journey to Rome.

“Yes, by Zeus,” said Philolaus, “if you could do it with impunity; but if you are going to lose your life by going thither, and if Nero is going to devour you alive before you see anything of what he does, your interview with him will cost you dear, much dearer than it ever cost Ulysses to visit the Cyclops in his home; though he lost many of his comrades in his anxiety to see him, and because he yielded to the temptation of beholding so cruel a monster.”


Apollonius Approaches Rome.


Apollonius of Tyana.

NERO was opposed to philosophy, because he suspected its devotees of being addicted to magic, and of being diviners in disguise; and at last the philosopher’s mantle brought its wearers before law courts, as if it were a mere cloak of the divining art. I will not mention other names, but Musonius of Babylon, a man only second to Apollonius, was thrown into prison for the crime of being a sage, and there lay in danger of death; and he would have died for all his gaoler cared, if it had not been for the strength of his constitution.

Such was the condition in which philosophy stood when Apollonius was approaching Rome; and at a distance of one hundred and twenty stadia from its walls he met Philolaus of Cittium in the neighbourhood of the Grove of Aricia.

Now Philolaus was a Rome polished speaker, but too soft to bear any hardships. He had quitted Rome, and was virtually a fugitive, and any philosopher he met with he urged to take the same course. He accordingly addressed himself to Apollonius, and urged him to give way to circumstances, and not to proceed to Rome, where philosophy was in such bad odour; and he related to him what was taking place there, and as he did so he kept turning his head round, lest anybody should be listening behind him to what he said. “And you,” he said, “after attaching this band of philosophers to yourself, a thing which will bring you into suspicion and odium, are on your way thither, knowing nothing of the officers set over the gates by Nero, who will arrest you and them before ever you enter or get inside.”

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | August 14, 2015

The Brook


For men may come, and men may go, But I go on forever.


The Brook.


I COME from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally,
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.

By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorps, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.

Till last by Philip’s farm I flow
To join the brimming river;
For men may come, and men may go,
But I go on forever.

Read More…

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | July 25, 2015

Swift—Essay upon the Art of Political Lying


In 1710, Jonathan Swift writes an essay for The Examiner.

Besides, as the vilest writer has his readers, so the greatest liar has his believers; and it often happens, that if a lie be believed only for an hour, it has done its work, and there is no farther occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and Truth comes limping after it; so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late, the jest is over, and the tale has had its effect.

NUMB. 15.



E quibus hi vacuas implent sermonibus aures,
Hi narrata ferunt alio: mensuraque ficti
Crescit, et auditis aliquid novus adjicit autor,
Illic Credulitas, illic temerarius Error,
Vanaque Laetitia est, consternatique Timores,
Seditioque recens, dubioque autore susurri.

Jonathan Swift.

I AM prevailed on, through the importunity of friends, to interrupt the scheme I had begun in my last paper, by an Essay upon the Art of Political Lying. We are told, “the Devil is the father of lies, and was a liar from the beginning”; so that beyond contradiction, the invention is old: And which is more, his first essay of it was purely political, employed in undermining the authority of his Prince, and seducing a third part of the subjects from their obedience. For which he was driven down from Heaven, where (as Milton expresseth it) he had been viceroy of a great western province; and forced to exercise his talent in inferior regions among other fallen spirits, or poor deluded men, whom he still daily tempts to his own sin, and will ever do so till he is chained in the bottomless pit.

But though the Devil be the father of lies, he seems, like other great inventors, to have lost much of his reputation, by the continual improvements that have been made upon him.

Who first reduced lying into an art, and adapted it to politics, is not so clear from history, though I have made some diligent enquiries: I shall therefore consider it only according to the modern system, as it has been cultivated these twenty years past in the southern part of our own island.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | July 22, 2015

News: Hector, Arkansas — “Our Jerusalem”


Dan Van Veen reports for PE News about the community service practiced by a Christian congregation in Hector, Arkansas.


What began with Williams’ trepidation in following God’s lead has now become the heart of the church. He believes God worked in the hearts and lives of the congregation to prepare them to serve their “Jerusalem” (Acts 1:8).

PE News.

Hector, Arkansas — “Our Jerusalem”

by  Dan Van Veen    on 22 July 2015



Two words: missions trip. What images come to mind?

Far away lands, destitute people, false gods, primitive conditions, hard labor?

Shane and Debbie Williams have been co-pastors of Hector (Arkansas) First Assembly of God for the past 5 1/2 years. Just prior to their arrival, the church had taken a missions trip to Ecuador. The Williams’ first missions trip with the church took them to minister at an Indian reservation.

But as the church began preparing for its next missions trip, God had something else in mind.

“This church has had very successful missions trips,” Shane Williams says, “but the more I prayed about this, the more I heard God saying ‘home missions’ and ‘community service.'” Williams felt the Lord directing him to make Hector the focus of their missions efforts.

Williams prayed about this direction for months. He admits he was not excited about announcing this new focus to the congregation, which averages a surprising 240 (in a town of 500), as it seemed a fairly drastic departure from what the church was accustomed to.

Read More…

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | July 16, 2015

Rufus Choate—To The Whig Convention At Worcester, Mass.

American Correspondence

After the collapse of the Whig Party in 1854—caused by their disastrous policy of extending slavery into new states—Rufus Choate joins the Democrats and offers advice to fellow Whigs.

To choose his political connection aright is the most delicate and difficult duty of the citizen. We have made our choice, and we abide by it. We join ourselves to no party that does not carry the flag and keep step to the music of the Union.



BOSTON, October 1, 1855.

Messrs. Peter Butler, Jr., and Bradley N. Cummings, Secretaries, &c, &c.


Rufus Choate.

I DISCOVER that my engagements will not allow me to attend the convention to be holden at Worcester to-morrow, and I hope that it is not too late to fill the vacancy.

I assure the Whigs of Boston that I should have regarded it as a duty and a privilege, if it had been practicable, to serve as one of their delegates. The business which the convention meets to do gives it extraordinary attraction as well as importance.

Whether we are dead, as reported in the newspapers, or, if not, whether we shall fall upon our own swords and die even so, will be a debate possessing the interest of novelty at least. For one, I deny the death, and object to the suicide, and should be glad to witness the indignation and laughter with which such a question will be taken.

If there shall be in that assembly any man, who, still a Whig, or having been such, now proposes to dissolve the party, let him be fully heard and courteously answered upon his reasons. Let him declare what party we shall join. Neutrality in any sharp civil dissension is cowardly, immoral, and disreputable. To what party, then, does he recommend us? I take it for granted it will not be to the Democratic; I take it for granted, also, not the American. To what other, then? To that of fusion certainly, to the Republican,—so called, I suppose, because it is organized upon a doctrine, and aims at ends, and appeals to feelings, on which one-half of the Republic, by a geographical line, is irreconcilably opposed to the other. Even to that party.

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Posted by: Democratic Thinker | July 13, 2015

National Day of the Cowboy

National Day of the Cowboy


National Day of the Cowboy.


Saturday July 25, 2015.
Celebrating the Cowboy.

The 11th annual celebration commemorating one of America’s most notable icons, the cowboy.

(List of Events)

Read More…

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | July 10, 2015

Weekly Story: Water and Ammo in, Bodies Out

Weekly Story

Former Huey crewchief, James “Bud” Harton relates an experience from the Viet Nam War.

That’s when Ray Dussault became my friend. I heard him scream, not on the intercom, as he jumped into the cabin.


UH-1D Huey.


Water and Ammo in, Bodies Out


In early 1967, I was still with the 2nd Platoon slicks, crewing 6982, “Maid Mary.” 6982 was a brand new “D” model which the Company got to replace one of our aircraft which had crashed and killed the crew in December. I sweated over it everyday, trying to keep it clean, scrubbing the floors out,and a futile attempt to keep the carbon off the tailboom from the jet exhaust.

I had a lot of hours in, was kind of senior in the platoon, when my gunner rotated home. The Platoon Sergeant sent us out to the flight line early one morning for a Combat Assault. He promised me that he would bring my new gunner out to the ship.

I went on out and started getting ready. I popped the cockpit doors open for the pilots who were still being briefed, opened the engine cowling for the pre flight inspection and then got my gear ready.

The platoon 3/4 ton truck skidded to a halt and SSG Lawson dropped off a scruffy little guy wearing a boonie hat with the front brim pinned up. He got out of the truck, dropping his flight helmet to the ground, and then stood up and I got a good look at him.

He was OLD, at least 30. As he rambled over to me, I saw he was already wearing the red scarf that we all wore around his neck. As he came up to me, he stuck out his hand and said,

“Hi! I’m Ray Dussault, I’m your new gunner, I just transferred in.”

Read More…

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | July 8, 2015

Commentary: Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition


Eileen Norcross, writing for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, rates the fiscal solvency of the various states.


How financially healthy is your state? Most states are nearly back to normal since the Great Reces­sion, although there are troubling signs that many states are still ignoring the risks on their books, mainly in underfunded pensions and health care benefits.


Mercatus Center.


Ranking The States By Fiscal Condition.

Eileen Norcross | Jul 07, 2015

In new research for the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Senior Research Fellow Eileen Norcross ranks each US state’s financial health based on short- and long-term debt and other key fiscal obligations, including unfunded pensions and health care benefits. The study, which builds on previous Mercatus research about state fiscal conditions, provides information from the states’ audited financial reports in an easily accessible format, presenting an accurate snapshot of each state’s fiscal health.

With new spending commitments for Medicaid and growing long-term obligations for pensions and health care benefits, states must be ever vigilant to consider both the short- and long-term consequences of policy decisions. Understanding how each state is performing in regard to a vari­ety of fiscal indicators can help state policymakers as they make these decisions.

Read More…

Posted by: Democratic Thinker | June 30, 2015

Weekly Story: Down In The Valley To Pray

Weekly Story

In 1899, Congregational minister William E. Barton publishes Old Plantation Hymns—a book of songs he collected during his time in Kentucky—”hitherto unpublished.”

It was the writer’s privilege to live in the South from 1880 till 1887, and to come into contact with a good many kinds of people. During the earlier years especially he made careful records of most that interested him, and he supplemented these records as the years went by with whatever came in his way. One of the things which never was allowed to escape was an odd song, secular or religious; and wherever possible the quaint air as well as the words was written down at the time. These have waited for eleven years, and it is time that they were printed if they are to appear at all. It is possible that some have been printed already; but even if so, the variations will be of interest. The most of them, however, are probably new to almost all who will see them here, and many, I am confident, have never been printed or even written before.


Down In The River To Pray—Alison Krauss


Down in the Valley to Pray.


O BROTHER, less go down,
Less go down,
Less go down.
O brother, less go down,
Down in the valley to pray.

‘S I went down in the valley to pray,
Stud-y-in’ a-bout dat good ole way.
You shall wear a starry crown,
Good Lord, show me de way.

Read More…

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