Monday, September 11, 2017

Neptune Discovered

In the history of science, this discovery is important because the knowledge of a new planet preceded its actual sighting.  From the series which tells how this happened.

The explanation by Newton of the observed facts of the motion of the moon, the way he accounted for precession and nutation and for the tides; the way in which Laplace explained every detail of the planetary motions — these achievements may seem to the professional astronomer equally, if not more, striking and wonderful; but of the facts to be explained in these cases the general public is necessarily more or less ignorant, and so no beauty or thoroughness of treatment appeals to it or excites its imagination. But to predict in the solitude of the study, with no weapons other than pen, ink, and paper, an unknown and enormously distant world, to calculate its orbit when as yet it had never been seen, and to be able to say to a practical astronomer, “Point your telescope in such a direction at such a time, and you will see a new planet hitherto unknown to man” — this must always appeal to the imagination with dramatic intensity, and must awaken some interest in the dullest.

Read more:

Friday, September 8, 2017

Civil Forfeiture Came from a Strange Place

This article from Bloomberg View gives the history of the practice of Civil Asset Forfeiture.  This issue was recently in the news when the Attorney General rolled back Obama restrictions on the practice. 

This practice goes way back in history – even to the Middle Ages.  Read it here.

Note that there is a distinction between civil forfeiture and criminal forfeiture.  Also, civil forfeiture cuts out the owner of the asset (usually money) and makes the property itself guilty.  Property, unlike individuals, have no rights, so the government gets around all of that Bill of Rights stuff.

I give my own opinions of this issue in my history website.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Napoleon Crowned Emperor of France

French Revolution ends Kingdom; creates Empire.  In between there’s democracy, reign of terror, and dictatorship.  Pope presides at coronation ceremony. 

A smaller crown was immediately put upon the head of the Empress, who, being surrounded by her ladies, everything was done so quickly that nobody was aware of the substitution that had taken place. 

Read more: