Today is the 199th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, America’s greatest President and one of the great leaders of all time. Coincidentally, that is also the exact same birth date of Charles Darwin. Can you imagine any two more influential figures of the 19th-century?
This is one of my favorite days of the year and one that Susan and I make a special effort to commemorate. This year we read The Abraham Lincoln Joke Book to our son to initiate him into the joys of Lincoln Day.
Here are some Link-olns for the day.
Other people commemorating the day:
I also have started a tradition of reading a book about Lincoln each year starting on his birthday. This year I’ve selected The Radical and the Republican by James Oakes. Previous selections:
Previously: Abraham Lincoln Day 2007
And for once, most of the links are actually from today.
- Memories of Shea: The Great Gatsby (Loge 13, 12/10/08) – The Mets’ little-known literary link.
- American Insanity: Killer Commutes by Paul Dorn (Bike Commute Tips Blog, 2/11/08) – I could have written this paragraph – “As a survivor of a suburban childhood, I will never mow a lawn again, let alone pay for the “privilege” of yardwork with car payments and fuel bills. I’m happy to enjoy parks maintained by union-scale professional municipal gardeners.”
- Three articles on an Open Access proposal at Harvard University:
- More on Open Access from Dan Cohen’s Digital Humanities Blog (2/12/08): A Quartet of Open Access Arguments
- Why does the U.S. Have An Electoral College by Joe Miller (FactCheck.org, 2/12/08 – I did not know this: “The winner-take-all system is not federally mandated; states are free to allocate their electoral votes as they wish.”
- Airbrushing Ronald Reagan by John J. Pitney, Jr. (Britannica Blog, 2/12/08) – apparently Reagan wasn’t Reaganesque.
- Courts Endow Corporations with Unalienable Rights by Jeffery Kaplan (AlterNet, 2/12/08) -“The founding principle of our country is right in the Declaration of Independence: all people are ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.’ It is not for judges to decide who is and who is not a human being.Nor should the courts play Creator by endowing legal constructs like corporations with human rights. Our constitutional rights exist to prevent large, powerful institutions — whether governments, corporations, or other entities — from oppressing us humans.”
I started my day at the Inverness Tourist Information center where I learned that Dr. Gordon Williamson’s minibus tours only went out on weekends in the low season. Since 12 February 1998 was a Thursday, I could not wait around for the weekend. Instead I signed up for the dreaded Inverness Traction coach tour as my only option for seeing Loch Ness. It was about as dreadful as I expected, a big bus with corny narration, but at least it made frequent stops where I could get out and away from the group.
In all those tv specials about Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster I was always drawn to the beauty of the loch itself. It did not disappoint. Loch Ness is 24 miles long, 1-1.5 miles wide, and unfathomably deep. It exudes an aura of beauty and mystery.
The coach tour’s first stop is at the Loch Ness Monster Exhibition Centre in Drumnadrochit. The most fascinating part of this exhibit is that in all the expeditions conducted to find and/or disprove Nessie’s existence, scientists have learned about many interesting creatures that inhabit the lake such as mollusks and midges that are not known elsewhere in the region.
At another stop on the tour we visited Fort Augustus Abbey a Hanoverian fort which became a Benedictine Abbey which became an incredibly cheezy tourist attraction. Presentation is everything and we visitors were forced to carry Walkmans as we viewed waxworks, models, and artifacts. The monastery was actually still in use so after escaping the exhibit I wandered off to the peaceful chapel and then walked along the Loch itself.
All in all, it wasn’t as bad as I made out. Yes, I did have to listen to macabre tales of Alistair Crowley, but I also got to take in views of the loveliest landscape from all sides of Loch Ness.
After returning to Inverness that evening, I took the train to Edinburgh. I checked in the High Street Hostel and apparently did nothing worth writing down. The have only clues that I went on a pub crawl in search of live music because I listed the names of three pubs: The World’s End, Tron Ceilidh House, and Whistlebinkies. I guess it was a good night, but I can’t remember a thing about it.
Look carefully in the foreground and you may see the mysterious Loch Ness Otter.
Here you can see the not so rare Loch Ness Tourist.