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April 17th, 2009

Apr. 17th, 2009

Nick Biddle Day

One-hundred and forty-eight years ago today, the aging, 65-year old Nick Biddle, an orderly to Captain James Wren of the Washington Artillerists (Pottsville PA; later incorporated into the 48th Pennsylvania), shed the first blood of the Civil War as the Washington Artillerists, together with the National Light Infantry (also of Pottsville), the Logan Guards (Lewistown), Ringgold Light Artillery (Reading), and the Allen Infantry (Allentown) marched through Baltimore to the defence of Washington DC.  Fitting, perhaps, that it was he:

He had been born a slave in Delaware, but escaped across the border to Philadelphia, where he went to work for the financier, Nicholas Biddle, whose name he took.  At one point, when Nicholas Biddle visited Pottsville, "Nick" remained there afterward. 

While the "First Defenders" were crossing Baltimore to the Washington train station, a member of the mob saw Biddle and cried, "N*gger in Uniform!" although without the asterisks.  The stoning was directed his way and, as Captain Wren put it, "Poor Nick had to take it."  He was felled by a brick to the head that laid his skull bare. 

Bivouaced in the Capitol itself, Nick was visited that evening by Abraham Lincoln, who offered to place him in hospital.  But Biddle prefered to remain with his comrades.  When the 90-day enlistment was up, Biddle returned to Pottsville, as the injury was debilitating.  He became a handyman and died destitute at 82 in 1876.  He was buried at the expense of his old comrades at the Bethel AME Church.  The tombstone which they paid for and which memorialized his role has been lost to vandalism over the years.  
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Apr. 17th, 2009

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

About 390,000 people listed their religion as Jedi in the 2001 Census for England and Wales. In Scotland the figure was a reported 14,000. The Office for National Statistics did not recognize it as a separate category and incorporated followers of Jedi with the atheists.

Apr. 17th, 2009

Stanley Jaki, RIP

I saw the notices a couple of days ago, and thought it worth mentioning here.  Jaki was a world-renowned philosopher, with degrees in both physics and theology.  It was he who pointed out to Gell-Mann and others at a Nobel Conference in Stockholm the consequences for physics of Goedel's incompleteness theorem.  In the end, even Hawking came to the realization - something Jaki called "Hawking's Late Awakening."

A Late Awakening to Goedel in Physics


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