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Violet Jessop, the 20th Century Lady Jonah: Part 3 – Ice Warnings for the The RMS Titanic

Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

Violet Jessop said that it was her habit to breathe in fresh air on deck before retiring for the night. Regarding the fourth day of sailing on Titanic she wrote:

If the sun did fail to shine so brightly on the fourth day out, and if the little cold nip crept into the air as evening set in, it only served to emphasize the warmth and luxuriousness within.

Titanic in ice field (Artist: Ken Marschall)
Titanic in ice field (Artist: Ken Marschall)

From the second day on, after leaving Southampton on its maiden voyage, RMS Titanic received reports of ice from ships passing through, or stopped due to heavy ice in the region she would be sailing to New York. On the 11th she received six warnings, on 12th five, on 13th three, and on 14th six. As a matter of fact, the Marconi room of RMS Titanic relayed some of the warnings to the shore.

As a routine, all these messages would have been logged in the radio book as they were received or intercepted and passed on to the officers on the bridge. So, it is unlikely that Captain Edward Smith and his officers, would have been unaware of the dangerous ice that was lying directly in the path of the ship.

Here are the messages received or intercepted on Sunday, April 14, 1912 – four days into the crossing:

At 9:00 am  (“Titanic” time), RMS Caronia (call sign MSF), a Cunard Line ocean liner, Eastbound New York to Liverpool, sent an ice warning message to RMS Titanic:

“Captain, ‘Titanic.’ – Westbound steamers report bergs, growlers and field ice in 42°N from 49° to 51°W, 12th April. Compliments. – Barr.”

Action taken: This message referred to bergs, growlers and field ice sighted on April 12, 1912 – at least 48 hours before the time of transmitting the message. At the time this message was received RMS Titanic was at 43°35’N, 43°50’W. Captain Smith acknowledged the receipt of this message and posted it for his officers to read.

At about 8 am on April 14, 1912, Greek steamer Athinai (call sign MTI) belonging to the Hellenic Transatlantic Steam Navigation Company, Westbound from Piraues and Mediterranean ports to New York, encountered a large ice field containing several large bergs. During the morning she sent an ice advisory to RMS Baltic, an ocean liner of the White Star Line, Eastbound New York to Liverpool.

At 1:42 pm, RMS Baltic (call sign MBC) relayed this report to its sister ship RMS Titanic:

“Captain Smith, ‘Titanic.’ – Have had moderate, variable winds and clear, fine weather since leaving. Greek steamer ‘Athinai’ reports passing icebergs and large quantities of field ice today in lat. 41°51′ N., long. 49° 52′ W. Last night we spoke German oiltank steamer ‘Deutschland,’ Stettin to Philadelphia, not under control, short of coal, lat. 40° 42′ N., long. 55° 11′ W. Wishes to be reported to New York and other steamers. Wish you and ‘Titanic’ all success. – Commander.”

Action taken: At the time this message was received the RMS Titanic was at about 42°35’N, 45°50W. Captain Edward Smith acknowledged the receipt of this message.

J. Bruce IsmayCaptain Smith showed the message to J. Bruce Ismay, the Managing Director of the White Star Line, on board the RMS Titanic on her maiden voyage to let him know that ice was to be expected that night. The latter pocketed the message and showed it later to two ladies; and of course many people on board became aware of its contents. At 7:15 pm, Captain Smith asked for its return, when it was finally posted in the chart room.

At 11:20 am, the German steamer SS Amerika, belonging to the Hamburg America Line of Germany, Eastbound, New York to Hamburg sent an ice advisory telegram message to the Hydrographic Office in Washington, DC via RMS Titanic because Titanic was nearer to Cape Race, to which station it had to be relayed to reach Washington. Here is a facsimile of the message:

File copy from Samuel Barr of the telegram from SS Amerika via SS Titanic on location of two large icebergs 14 April 1912. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
File copy from Samuel Barr of the telegram from SS Amerika via SS Titanic on location of two large icebergs 14 April 1912. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips

Action taken: The location of the bergs 41°27’N, 50°08’W was 12.5 miles from where the RMS Titanic later sank. The message does not mention at what hour the bergs had been observed. However, as a message affecting navigation, it should have been taken to the bridge. The two Marconi operators on board Titanic were 25-year-old John George Phillips, better known as “Jack Phillips”, and his Deputy, 22-year-old Harold Sydney Bride. Maybe Phillips waited until the ship would be within call of Cape Race (at about 8:00 or 8:30 pm). No one on board the RMS Titanic knew about this message outside the Marconi room.

The SS Californian, a tramp steamer of The Leyland Line, transporting cargo to whichever port wanted it, commanded by Captain Stanley Lord, left London on April 5, 1912, and was on her way to Boston, Massachusetts. Although she was certified to carry up to 47 passengers, she carried none during this trip. She had a crew of 55 men. At 6:30 pm she sighted three bergs to her southward, 15 miles (24 km) north of the course the RMS Titanic was heading.

At 7:30 pm, Cyril Evans, the only wireless operator of the SS Californian (call sign MWL), sent a wireless message of the ship’s position to their sister ship SS Antillian:

“To Captain, ‘Antillian’, 6.30 pm apparent ship’s time; lat. 42°3’N, long. 49°9’W. Three large bergs five miles to southward of us. Regards. – Lord.”

Action taken: Harold Bride, the other wireless operator on RMS Titanic intercepted the message, but delivered it to the ship’s bridge only at 10:20 pm. Later, Bride said that he could not remember to whom he delivered this message.

.At 9:40 pm, the Marconi station of the MV Mesaba (call sign MMU) belonging to the Atlantic Transport Line sent the following message:

“From ‘Mesaba’ to ‘Titanic’ and all eastbound ships. Ice report in lat. 42°N to 41°25’N, long. 49° to long. 50°30’W. Saw much heavy pack ice and great number large icebergs. Also field ice. Weather good, clear.”

Action taken: This message clearly indicated the presence of ice in the immediate vicinity of the RMS Titanic and was not  delivered to the deck or to any of the officers.

Harold Bride
Harold Bride

This message never left the Titanic’s radio room because the wireless set had broken down the day before, resulting in a backlog of messages that the two radio operators Jack Phillips and Harold Bride were trying to clear. At the time time this message reached Titanic’s radio room an exhausted radio operator Harold Bride was getting some much needed sleep. Phillips may have failed to grasp the significance of the message as he was preoccupied with transmitting and receiving messages for passengers via the relay station at Cape Race, Newfoundland.

At Longitude 42°05’N, 50°07’W, a position to the south of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, SS Californian was confronted by a large ice field. Captain Stanley Lord decided to halt the ship at 10:21 pm and wait until morning to proceed further.

Officers of SS Californian.  Front row, left to right: Captain Lord, Chief Officer Stewart. Back row, left to right: 2nd  Officer Stone, 3rd Officer Groves
Officers of SS Californian. Front row, left to right: Captain Lord, Chief Officer Stewart. Back row, left to right: 2nd Officer Stone, 3rd Officer Groves.

Around 11 pm, Lord saw a light in the east, but thought it could be a rising star.

At 11:10 pm Third Officer C.V. Groves on deck, also saw the lights of a ship 10 or 12 miles away. To him, it was clearly a large liner as he saw brightly lit multiple decks. Fifteen minutes later Groves informed Captain Lord of what he saw.

They tried to contact the other ship using a Morse lamp, but did not see any reciprocal reply. The Captain then asked his wireless operator Evans if he knew of any ships in the area. Evans said: “only the Titanic.” Captain Lord instructed Evans to call RMS Titanic and inform her that the Californian was stopped, surrounded by ice.

When Evans tried to convey the message the RMS Titanic‘s on-duty wireless operator, Jack Phillips, was busy working on a large backlog of personal messages sent and received from the wireless station at Cape Race, Newfoundland. The relative proximity of SS Californian made signals sent from it loud in Phillips’ headphones. So, Phillips rebuked Evans with: “Shut up, shut up! I am busy; I am working Cape Race!

Evans waited and at 11:30 pm when he did not receive any reply from Phillips he switched off the wireless and went to bed.

Praying the Rosary

Violet Jessop was a firm believer in the power of prayer. As a devout Catholic she always had a rosary in her apron. In her memoirs, Violet says she had taken along with her belongings a copy of a translated Hebrew prayer that an old Irish woman had given her. On that fateful day, after settling down in her bunk she read the strangely worded prayer supposed to protect one who read it against fire and water. Then, she persuaded her roommate, a stewardess (according to editor John Maxtone- Graham, possibly Elizabeth Leather) to read it.


 Previous: Part 2 – Aboard the RMS Titanic

Next → Part 4 – Sinking of the RMS Titanic



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Sawm Ramadan


Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj


May this Ramadan bring you the utmost in peace now and during prosperity. May light triumph over darkness.


Ramadan (Arabic: رمضان‎ Ramaḍān), the ninth month of the Islāmic calendar, is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

Though not mentioned in the Quran, but summarized in the famous hadith of Gabriel are the Five Pillars of Islam (arkān-al-Islām أركان الإسلام; also arkān ad-dīn أركان الدين “pillars of the religion”) which are the foundation of Muslim life – five basic acts in Islam, considered obligatory by believers. They are:

  1. Shahadah (belief or confession of faith – Muslim life)
  2. Salat (worship in the form of prayer)
  3. Sawm Ramadan (self purification by fasting during the month of Ramadan)
  4. Zakat (alms or charitable giving or concern for the needy)
  5. Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime)

Annually, Muslims, worldwide, observe self purification by fasting during the month of Ramadan which lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon.

The word Ramadan derived from the Arabic root ramiḍa or ar-ramaḍ, means “scorching heat” or “dryness.” It is “obligatory” for adult Muslims to fast, except those who are ill, diabetic, traveling, pregnant, breastfeeding, or during menstrual bleeding.

The Quran states:

The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the distinction; therefore whoever of you is present in the month, he shall fast therein, and whoever is sick or upon a journey, then (he shall fast) a (like) number of other days; Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty, and (He desires) that you should complete the number and that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you and that you may give thanks. [Quran 2:185]

Wall Street Bull
Wall Street Bull (Photo: V.A. Subas Raj)

Bowling Green is a small public park in Lower Manhattan at the foot of Broadway next to the site of the original Dutch fort of New Amsterdam. Built in 1733, originally including a bowling green, it is the oldest public park in New York City surrounded by its original 18th-century fence. At its northern end is the Charging Bull sculpture, which is sometimes called the Wall Street Bull or the Bowling Green Bull.

Dhuhr (Noon) prayer in Bowling Green - 1
Dhuhr (Noon) prayer in Bowling Green (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)
Dhuhr (Noon) prayer in Bowling Green  (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)
Dhuhr (Noon) prayer in Bowling Green (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

Last year, while my wife and I were in New York, we saw a faithful Muslim in the Bowling Green at 1:23 pm unmindful of the blaring noise surrounding him, perseveringly reciting the Dhuhr (Noon) prayer. We were spellbound by his faith in God and his steadfast adherence to his religious duties.



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Nikola Tesla, the Obscure Genius


Myself By T.V. Antony Raj


“When I saw this wonderful man [Thomas Alva Edison], who had had no training at all, no advantages, and who did it all himself, and saw the great results by virtue of his industry and application – you see, I had studied a dozen languages … and had spent the best years of my life ruminating through libraries. I thought to myself what a terrible thing it was to have wasted my life on those useless things, and if I had only come to America right then and there and devoted all of my brain power and inventiveness to my work, what could I not have done?” (Nikola Tesla, in My inventions: My early life. Electrical Experimenter; February 1919)

Nikola Tesla
Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla, a Serbian-American, was born in what is now Croatia on July 10, 1856. He was a physicist, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, an inventor, and futurist. He is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.

During his lifetime, Tesla obtained about 300 patents for his inventions. Today, we take many of his inventions for granted today. For example, we owe Tesla for the flip switch when we turn on the light.

Tesla was one of the few inventors who contributed to advances in science and engineering in the early 20th century. As one of the fathers of Electricity, Nikola Tesla did pioneering work on alternating current (AC) power system, electromagnetism, hydroelectric power, radio, radar etc.

Tesla gained experience in telephony and electrical engineering before he immigrated to the United States in 1884.

In 1882, Nikola Tesla started working for two years at the Continental Edison Company in France designing and making improvements to electrical equipment. In June 1884, Tesla relocated to New York City. During his trip across the Atlantic, his ticket, money, and some of his luggage were stolen. Then, mutiny broke out on the ship and he was nearly thrown overboard. When he landed in the United States he had only four cents in his pocket, a letter of recommendation from Charles Batchelor, the English engineer who managed the Continental Edison Company in Europe.

Thomas Alva Edison
Thomas Alva Edison

Tesla met Edison. Knowing the famous American inventor had a hearing problem spoke up and introduced himself. He produced the brief message from Batchelor.

Edison snorted after glancing at the brief message. “I know two great men and you are one of them,” Batchelor had written. “The other is this young man!

A rumpled, weary, and deeply skeptical Edison asked Tesla what he could do.

Tesla humbly described the engineering work he had done in France, and spoke of his designs for induction motors that could run smoothly and powerfully on alternating current. Edison, however, knew very little about alternating current and believed it to be the work of the devil. Edison was a man with bigot, who in the past had waged a propaganda war against the gas companies stating the use of gas as a source of power would endanger humans due to possible explosions.

Eventually, Edison hired Tesla to work at the Edison Machine Works in New York.

One year later after a disagreement over emoluments, Tesla struck out on his own. With financial backers, he set up laboratories and companies to develop a range of electrical devices that sparked the long-running, and bitter “War of the Currents.”

Laboratory where TEsla and Westinghouse engineers developed apparatus for AC systems.
Laboratory where Tesla and Westinghouse engineers developed apparatus for AC systems.

George Westinghouse used Tesla’s patented AC induction motor and transformer under license and hired him as a consultant to help develop a power system using alternating current.

Tesla is also known for his high-voltage, high-frequency power experiments in New York and Colorado Springs. His patented devices and theoretical work were used in the invention of radio communication, and in his X-ray experiments.

At that time, James S. Warden, a western lawyer and banker had purchased land in Shoreham, Long Island, about 60 miles from Manhattan. Here, he built a resort community known as Wardenclyffe-On-Sound. Warden believed that with the implementation of Nikola Tesla’s “world system” a “Radio City” would arise in the area. He offered Tesla 200 acres (81 ha) of land close to a railway line on which to build his wireless telecommunications tower and laboratory facility. In 1901, Tesla designed the Wardenclyffe Tower also known as the Tesla Tower, an early wireless transmission tower intended for commercial trans-Atlantic wireless telephony, broadcasting, and proof-of-concept demonstrations of wireless power transmission. It never became fully operational and the tower was demolished in 1917.

Tesla with his achievements and his seemingly miraculous inventions and his abilities as a showman became world-famous. Though he reaped much money from his patents, he also spent a lot on numerous experiments. For most of his life he lived in New York hotels. Finally, the end of his patent income and eventual bankruptcy led him to live in diminished circumstances. Even then, Tesla continued to invite the press to parties he held on his birthday to announce new inventions he was working on. Due to his pronouncements and the nature of his work over the years, Tesla gained a reputation as the archetypal “mad scientist”.

Though Nikola Tesla was one of the world’s greatest inventors, as fate would have it, he died penniless and in obscurity on January 7, 1943 in room 3327 of the New Yorker Hotel.

Monument for f Nikola Tesla at the entrance to the “Cave of the Winds” at Niagara Falls.
This monument to honour Nikola Tesla near the entrance to the “Cave of the Winds” on Goat Island (Niagara Falls State Park), New York, USA, the work of famous Croatian sculptor Krsinic was the gift of Yugoslavia to the United States, 1976. (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj – August 3, 2012)





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United States: A Cold, Inhospitable, and Cruel Country for the Poor


Myself By T.V. Antony Raj


“Family in Need. Due Lay off. Any help Appreciated. Thank you God Bless.” (Photo: T.V. Antony Raj)

The United States can be a cold, inhospitable, and cruel country for the poor, where mercy and compassion are not particularly evident.

Poverty continues to grow each year, and the middle class continues to shrink as unemployment stays high. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2011, due to rising living costs, nearly half the Americans have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income. In other words, more than 146 million Americans are categorized as poor or have a low income, and this does not include those classified in the “near poverty” category. These figures follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that has hurt millions of workers and families.

Though the federal government claims that the recession is over and things are getting better, the number of layoffs last month in the United States was 30 percent higher than a year ago. What the poor in this country really need are jobs.

Mole people living under New York City
Mole people living under New York City.

Poverty has driven thousands of people out of their homes and has transformed them in to mole people, living under major U.S. cities – in abandoned subways, railroads, flood and sewage tunnels and heating shafts. They are also called “tunnel people” or “tunnel dwellers”. Mole people are found in New York City, Las Vegas and even in Kansas City, Missouri.

Besides the thousands of mole people living under the major U.S. cities, there are thousands living in tent cities, thousands that living in vehicles. It is pathetic to know that more than a million public school children do not have a home to go back to at night.



State Mandate: Allow Boys in Girls’ Locker Rooms



.Student discomfort is not a reason to deny access,‘ says education commish

Little gir lembarrassed hands cover eyes
Shame! Shame!

A new, official interpretation of state law released by Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester requires schools to permit “transgender” boys to use girls’ locker rooms, bathrooms and changing facilities if the boys “assert” they’re really girls.

“Some students may feel uncomfortable with a transgender student using the same sex-segregated restroom, locker room or changing facility,” the official document admits, but then concludes, “this discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student.”

Kris Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute, however, says there’s something far more significant than “discomfort” at stake.

“The School Commissioner’s first duty is to protect all students, from kindergarten to grade 12, not endanger them,” Mineau said in a statement. “The overriding issue with this new policy is that opening girls’ bathrooms to boys is an invasion of privacy and a threat to all students’ safety.”

Furthermore, the policy document explains, neither doctor’s note nor hormone therapy nor even parental permission is needed for a student to switch sex: If a boy says he’s a girl, as far as the schools should be concerned, he’s a girl.

“The responsibility for determining a student’s gender identity rests with the student,” the statement reads. “A school should accept a student’s assertion of his or her gender identity when there is … ‘evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held as part of a person’s core identity.’”

The document further warns that referring to transgendered students by their birth name or sex, if it doesn’t match their current, preferred name or sex, “should not be tolerated and can be grounds for student discipline.”

The document creates policy related to a law that went into effect in July of last year called “An Act Relative to Gender Identity,” which in turn amended G.L. c. 76, §5 “to establish that no person shall be excluded from or discriminated against in admission to a public school of any town, or in obtaining the advantages, privileges and courses of study of such public school on account of gender identity.”

According to the 11-page policy paper, that means that boys who identify as girls should not only be addressed by the feminine pronoun and be listed as girls on official transcripts, but they should also be allowed access to girls’ facilities and be allowed to play on girls’ athletic and club teams. Likewise for girls who insist they’re boys.

Andrew Beckwith, attorney for Massachusetts Family Institute, however, warns that the document’s definition of transgender “is extremely broad.”

“If a male student tells his teacher he feels like a girl on the inside, the school has to treat him in every way as if he actually is a girl,” Beckwith explained, citing the policy paper. “School personnel may be forbidden from informing the parents of their child’s gender decisions, and students can even decide to be one gender at home and another at school.”

The Massachusetts Family Institute notes during the debate the law giving rise to this new policy had been dubbed the “Stealth Bathroom Bill,” even though opening public bathrooms to self-identified transgender people were specifically removed from the law out of legislators’ concerns for the safety, privacy and modesty of all its citizens.

In schools, however, the bathroom provisions will now effectively be put back in.

“Each situation needs to be reviewed and addressed based on the particular circumstances of the student and the school facilities,” the education policy states. “[Yet] in all cases, the principal should be clear with the student (and parent) that the student may access the restroom, locker room and changing facility that corresponds to the student’s gender identity.”

The policy also gives the following example: “In one middle school, a male-to-female transgender sixth-grader socially transitioned after spring break. For the rest of the school year, she used the nurse’s restroom and the other unisex restrooms at the school. Beginning in seventh grade, she used the girls’ restroom.”

Democratic State Rep. Colleen Garry has introduced amending legislation to the current law says she would prevent precisely these scenarios by ensuring that people use the restrooms and locker room facilities consistent with their anatomical sex.

“Like many of my colleagues, I am very concerned about Commissioner Chester’s directive to open public school bathrooms to all genders,” said Garry. “This was not the intent of the Legislature, and we need to pass legislation that clearly defines the use of such facilities.”

WND contacted Commissioner Chester’s office for comment, but received no reply. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education can be contacted through its website.

WND has also reported previous attempts by state lawmakers in other states who have attempted to open up shower and bathroom facilities to cross-dressers and “transgendered” individuals.

In Maryland, for example, Montgomery County used the courts to squash a petition of 27,000 residents concerned about county legislation that granted men access to Womens’ restrooms, and vice versa, in the name of “gender identity” and “anti-discrimination.”

And in New York City, a lawsuit opened up the bathrooms in Grand Central Station after a man in woman’s clothing was arrested for using the ladies’ room.


Re-posted from WND Education


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The Brooklyn Bridge

Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

The Brooklyn Bridge, viewed from Manhattan (Photo - Postdlf at the English language Wikipedia)
The Brooklyn Bridge, viewed from Manhattan (Photo: Postdlf at the English language Wikipedia)

On January 3, 1870, construction began on one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States – the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. It was the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge. With a main span of 1,595.5 feet (486.3 meters), it was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1903. The bridge spans the East River connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The construction of the bridge was the personal project of John Augustus Roebling, a German born American engineer, who on a cold winter day found the ferry that he took daily to travel from Brooklyn to Manhattan unable to sail across due to the ice covering the East River. Roebling worked on the idea of ​​building a suspension bridge that united both cities (then Brooklyn was not a district belonging to New York).

It took over 13 years, four months and three days, and $15.5 million to construct the bridge. At the time of completion of the construction of the bridge, the tallest building in New York was only 5 feet taller than the bridge’s 276.5-foot towers. Around 27 people died during its construction, including John Roebling.

In 1915, the city government formally named the bridge as the “Brooklyn Bridge” that was originally known as the “New York and Brooklyn Bridge” and as the “East River Bridge.”

Since its opening on May 24, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1972 has become an icon of New York City. Though this landmark is 128-year-old, it still continues to serve the people of New York.

John Augustus Roebling
Johann August Röbling

John Augustus Roebling (born Johann August Röbling), a German engineer, the designer of the Brooklyn Bridge left Prussia with his brother Karl Roebling on May 22, 1831 and migrated to the United States since career advancement were difficult for engineers in the Prussian society.

Roebling House with bridge
John Roebling House with bridge at Saxonburg


On October 28, 1831, John and Karl purchased 1582 acres (6.4 km²) of land, in Butler County, Pennsylvania with the intent to establish a German farming settlement. They named their land Saxonburg. Instead of following an engineering profession Roebling took up farming. Five years later he got married to Johanna Herting, the daughter of a tailor.

The colony attracted few settlers and Roebling got fed up with farming. In 1837, after the death of his brother Carl and the birth of his first child, he returned to engineering.

At that time, canal boats transported from Philadelphia on railroad cars across the Allegheny Mountains enabled them to continue their journey to Pittsburgh. The expensive hemp rope up to 7 centimeters thick used to pull the railroad cars up and down the inclines had to be replaced frequently. In 1841, Roebling developed a 7-strand wire rope and started producing wire ropes at a ropewalk that he built on his farm at Saxonburg.

In 1844, he won a bid to replace the wooden canal aqueduct across the Allegheny River. In 1845, he built a suspension bridge over the Monongahela River in Pittsburgh. In 1848, Roebling undertook the construction of four suspension aqueducts on the Delaware and Hudson Canal. During this period, he moved his successful bridge construction and iron wire rope business to Trenton, New Jersey. In Trenton, he built a large industrial complex for producing wires.

After several other constructions, the American Civil War fought from 1861 to 1865 brought a temporary halt to Roebling’s work. However, in 1863, he resumed building a bridge over the Ohio River at Cincinnati which he had started in 1856 and halted due to financing. He finished the Cincinnati-Covington Bridge, later named the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge in 1867 – the world’s longest suspension bridge at that time.

In 1867, as a highly respected engineer and prosperous businessman, Roebling started design work on the Brooklyn Bridge. One day in 1869, while standing at the edge of a dock, surveying the location of the Brooklyn tower for the Brooklyn Bridge a docking boat crushed his foot. Even after the amputation of his injured toes, Roebling refused further medical treatment and resorted to cure his foot by “Water Therapy” namely pouring water continuously over the wound.

Washington Augustus Roebling (1837-1926)
Washington Augustus Roebling (1837-1926)

As John Roebling’s health deteriorated as tetanus set in, he appointed his 32-year-old son Washington Roebling in command of the project. Washington who had assisted his father on other suspension projects was familiar with European experiences with caissons, which would be needed to complete the piers. In geotechnical engineering, a caisson is a watertight retaining structure used, such as, to work on the foundations of a bridge pier.

In the early-morning hours of July 22, 1869 in Brooklyn Heights, New York, 24 days after the accident John Roebling succumbed to tetanus.

John Augustus Roebling is buried in the Riverview Cemetery in Trenton, New Jersey.

Shortly after the beginning of construction on January 3, 1870, Washington Roebling suffered a paralyzing injury as a result of decompression sickness (also known as divers’ disease, the bends or caisson disease). This condition, afflicted many of the workers working within the caissons.

Portrait of Emily Warren Roebling by Charles-Emile-Auguste Carolus-Duran (French, 1838-1917)
Portrait of Emily Warren Roebling by Charles-Emile-Auguste Carolus-Duran (French, 1838-1917)

Washington Roebling’s debilitating condition left him unable to supervise the construction in person. His wife Emily Warren Roebling came forward to help him. She acted as the link between her husband and the site engineers. Emily studied higher mathematics guided by her husband. Washington taught her the calculations of catenary curves, the strengths of materials, and bridge specifications. She learned the intricacies of cable construction. During the next 11 years, she assisted Washington Roebling by supervising the construction of the bridge.

On May 24, 1883, the day of the inauguration of the Brooklyn Bridge, thousands of people attended the opening ceremony. Many ships were present in the East Bay for the occasion.

President Chester A. Arthur and New York Mayor Franklin Edson crossed the bridge first, and when they reached the Brooklyn-side tower, Brooklyn Mayor Seth Low Arthur greeted them. The next person to cross the bridge was Evelyn Warren Roebling. She got down from her carriage and ran from one end to the other. Behind her, 1,800 vehicles and 150,300 people crossed what was then the only land passage between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

After the opening ceremony, President Arthur went to Roebling’s residence and shook hands with him. Though unable to attend the ceremony in person, Washington Roebling celebrated the day by holding a banquet at his house.

Pedestrians paid a 1 cent toll on opening day and 3 cents thereafter. The vehicle toll was 5 cents. A year after the bridge opened, every day 37,000 people used the Brooklyn Bridge to cross the East River.

On May 30, 1883, six days after the inauguration, a rumor that the Bridge was going to collapse caused a stampede that crushed 12 people to death.

A year later, on May 17, 1884, P. T. Barnum thwarted the doubts about the bridge’s stability by leading a parading 21 elephants over the Brooklyn Bridge.

Brooklyn Bridge under construction. The photo shows the footbridges used by workers to access the towers while under construction. (Source - elizabethgaffney.net)
Brooklyn Bridge under construction. The photo shows the footbridges used by workers to access the towers while under construction. (Source:  elizabethgaffney.net)


FoxNews: $100 bills from a secret Santa rain down on Sandy-hit New York, New Jersey

  • Secret Santa_Angu.jpg

    Nov. 29, 2012: Charlotte Muhammad holds up two $100 dollar bills she got from Secret Santa, at St. Joseph’s Social Service Center in Elizabeth, N.J. (AP)

  • Secret Santa_Angu (1).jpg

    Nov. 29, 2012: A woman hugs Secret Santa after receiving a $100 dollar bill from the wealthy philanthropist from Kansas City, Mo. Secret Santa distributed $100 dollar bills to needy people at St. Joseph’s Social Service Center and other locations in Elizabeth, N.J. (AP)

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    Nov. 29, 2012: A woman is surprised after Secret Santa gave her a $100 dollar bill while looking for clothes at the Salvation Army store in the boro of Staten Island, New York, N.Y. (AP)


NEW YORK –  A wealthy Missouri man posing as “Secret Santa” stunned New Yorkers on Thursday, handing $100 bills to many in Staten Island who had lost everything to Superstorm Sandy.

The Kansas City businessman is giving away $100,000 this holiday season, and spent the day in New Jersey and New York giving away thousands. But he says money is not the issue.

“The money is not the point at all,” said the anonymous benefactor as he walked up to surprised Staten Island residents and thrust crisp bills into their hands. “It’s about the random acts of kindness. I’m just setting an example, and if 10 percent of the people who see me emulate what I’m doing, anybody can be a Secret Santa!”

A police motorcade with sirens took him across the borough, passing a church ripped from its foundations and homes surrounded by debris. At a nearby disaster center run by volunteers, a woman quietly collected free food and basic goods.

“Has anyone given you any money?” he asked her.

“No,” replied Carol Hefty, a 72-year-old retiree living in a damaged home.

“Here,” he said, slipping the money into her hand.

“But this isn’t real money!” said Hefty, glancing at the red “Secret Santa” stamped onto the $100.

“It is, and it’s for you,” he tells her.

She breaks down weeping and hugs him.

And so it went, again and again.

Secret Santa started his day long East Coast visit with stops in Elizabeth, N.J. Keeping close watch over the cash handouts were his security entourage — police officers in uniform from New York and New Jersey, plus FBI agents and former agents from various states. Some have become supporters, wearing red berets marked with the word “elf” and assisting “Santa” to choose locations where people are most in need. He himself wears an “elf” beret and a red top, plus blue jeans.

The group must choose stops carefully, and refrain from simply appearing outdoors in a neighborhood, lest they be mobbed by people hearing that cash is being handed out.

At a stop at a Staten Island Salvation Army store, one woman is looking over a $4 handbag. “But you get $100!” he tells her, offering the bill.

“Are you serious?” said Prudence Onesto, her eyes widening. “Really?”

“Secret Santa,” he deadpans, breaking into a broad grin.

The 55-year-old unemployed woman opened her arms and offered him a hug.

An aisle over, 41-year-old Janice Kennedy is overwhelmed: She received four $100 bills.

Unemployed with a 2-year-old daughter, she lost her home in the storm and lives with her boyfriend. The money will go toward Christmas presents and her toddler’s next birthday.

“You’re not alone. God bless you!” the Missouri stranger tells Phillip and Lisa Morris, a couple in their 30s whose home was badly damaged — but now had an extra $300 in cash for rebuilding.

Secret Santa took up the holiday tradition from a close Kansas City friend, Larry Stewart, who for years handed out bills to unsuspecting strangers in thrift stores, food pantries and shelters. Stewart died in 2007 after giving away more than $1 million to strangers each December in mostly $100 bills.

The current Secret Santa will not divulge his name. Nor does he allow his face to be photographed. But he said he’s been to cities across America, from San Diego to Chicago to Charlotte, N.C.

A reporter asked whether he might be a sort of Warren Buffett of Kansas City. He smiled mysteriously and said only that he admires Buffett for his philanthropy. “And I hope I give all my money away before I die.”

Then, as suddenly as he arrived, the generous stranger left for the airport and home, riding in the volunteer motorcade he jokingly calls “my sleigh,” zipping with ease through red lights and city traffic.


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Did ‘Love Surgery’ by Dr. James C. Burt Boosted Pleasure or Brought Pain?

One of his patients recalled: “after he delivered my baby, I did not wake up for 2½ days, and he kept me hospitalized for a week. I asked him, ‘What have you done to me?’ Burt said, ‘Oh, I just patched you up,’ … He told me by fixing me like he did, it would be just like being a virgin again.”

Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj


Surgical Instruments


James Caird Burt Jr. was born on August 29, 1921 in Dayton the 6th largest city in the state of Ohio and the county seat of Montgomery County.

He graduated in 1945 from medical school at the University of Rochester in New York. After his internship in Houston, spending time in the United States Air Force Medical Corp, he resided in Chicago and New York City. Eventually, he returned to Dayton where he set up his gynecology and obstetrics practice after receiving his medical license from the State of Ohio.

Shortly after establishing his practice, Dr. Burt began altering the standard episiotomy repair.

A surgically planned incision in the perinaeum and the posterior vaginal wall during second stage of labor is known as episiotomy or perineotomy. It can be midline or at an angle from the posterior end of the vulva, performed under local anesthetics, and closed by suturing after delivery. This common medical procedure performed on women during childbirth has steadily declined over recent decades is still widely practiced in many parts around the world, including India, Qatar, Latin America, Poland, and Bulgaria.

Between 1954 and 1966, he experimented on his unknowing patients with variations on this repair. He added a few more stitches to make the vaginal opening, smaller and tighter. However, in 1966, he discovered two things:

1. The role played by the clitoris in female sexual response, thanks to the recently published research of Masters and Johnson.

2. Even though he had not revealed to the women that he had performed a variation of standard episiotomy repair on them, they told him that their sex life had improved.

From these two discoveries, Dr. Burt concluded that women’s bodies were not properly aligned for heterosexual, penetrative sex with men, and he needed to do more to correct for this anatomical problem. According to Burt, the clitoris lay too far from the opening of the vagina for women to receive adequate stimulation from the penis while copulating in the missionary position. To correct this, he began building up the skin tissue between the anal opening and the vaginal opening, thus moving the opening of the vagina closer to the clitoris. This added tissue changed the angle of the vagina’s opening. The vagina’s redirection, when the woman lay on her back, was no longer horizontal but almost vertical, with the labia majora  drawn into the vaginal opening.

Burt  maintained that women who benefited most from his love surgery had lost all or part of their orgasmic ability following childbirth. These women, Burt believed, became too vaginally loose after childbirth, with some women ‘‘large enough to ‘drive a truck through sideways’’’ (Burt, J. C., & Burt, J. Surgery of love. New York: Carlton Press. 1975, p. 41).

James Burt envisioned love surgery as a procedure on the female body for the encouragement of heterosexual, penetrative sex. He designed the surgery, not just for the sexual benefit of women, but also to accommodate their male sexual partners. By tightening the vagina, Burt stated “any man at any age’” could “love his woman to exhaustion,” because following the operation “every man can be a stud!” (Burt, J. C., & Burt, J. Surgery of love. New York: Carlton Press. 1975, p. 183).

By 1975, Burt had performed love surgery on nearly all of his obstetrics patients and many of his surgical patients, by his count 4,000 women, none of whom had he informed and none of whom had requested his variation of episiotomy repair.

Around this time, Burt believed love surgery to be successful enough to share it with others. He tried multiple times to publish in peer review medical journals; by his own count, his folders overflowed with rejections. After repeated refusals, he became frustrated with his peers and took his surgery directly to the public by self publishing his book, Surgery of Love, in 1975 with his wife.

A month after the book’s publication, the local Dayton Daily News ran an article about the surgery under the headline “Local Doctor Develops Corrective Surgery”. In the article Burt claimed that nearly 100 percent of the women who had undergone love surgery were “ecstatic” with the results and his wife and coauthor Joan Burt added that her husband had “given women the opportunity to enjoy sex”.

This resulted in women from Dayton and beyond to come to his clinic hoping for a surgically-enabled better sex life. By the mid-1970s, Burt promoted and offered his surgery as an elective for $1,500 plus hospitalization costs. The two-hour long surgery required 5 days in the hospital, at least a week of sitting on an inner tube, and 6 to 8 weeks without sex. 200 women requested the surgery by 1978. However, he continued to perform it on women who did not come to him for it or knowledgeably agree to have it.

In June 1978, the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (BWHBC) as part of their monthly mailing to 250 women’s health organizations across the United States sent copies of a Medical World News article about the surgery performed by Dr. James Burt. Along with the article, the BWHBC enclosed a letter, saying they were “appalled by the vaginal and clitoral mutilation recommended by Dr. James C. Burt”. To suggest, the letter continued,”that women need vaginal surgery because they do not have orgasm with each penile-vaginal intercourse is to inflict upon women male fantasies and assumptions about female sexuality.”  The BWBHC’s efforts to expose the sexism of the surgery failed to end Burt’s surgical practice.

In 1989, four women sued him for malpractice and accused him on national television of performing love surgery upon them without their consent.

On January 1989, James Burt voluntarily surrendered his license thereby avoiding a medical board hearing which might have uncovered more evidence against him. He subsequently divorced and declared bankruptcy due to the victim lawsuits totaling US$21 million.


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Winter Storm Athena. What’s in a Name?

Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj


The Winter Storm Team of The Weather Channel has named the current nor’easter “Winter Storm Athena” – first named winter storm! However, shortly after The Weather Channel announced the name Athena this morning, the National Weather Service office in Bohemia, N.Y., circulated an internal direction to its forecasters not to use The Weather Channel’s name for the Nor’easter storm.

Forecasters predict up to six inches of snowfall combined with winds gusting over 35 mph at times Wednesday afternoon through Thursday mid-morning across portions of Eastern Pennsylvania, including the Philadelphia Metro Area, New Jersey, southeastern New York, Connecticut and interior New England, still undergoing extensive recovery efforts from Sandy.

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Some Images of the U.S. East Coast Pounded by Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy, a.k.a., The Perfect Storm, The Super Storm, The Monster Storm, Frankenstorm and by various other names bore down on the U.S. East
Coast, on Monday, October 29, 2012.

As hurricane Sandy loomed in on the U.S. East Coast’s largest cities, forecasters warned that 60 million people in those regions could face threatening high winds, huge rainfall and sea water surging up to a height of 11 feet. This forced the government to impose mandatory evacuation from some coastal zones. Hundreds of thousands moved to higher ground leaving their homes.

The public transport system shut down, and a number of bridges closed. Many financial and business establishments put down their shutters. The U.S. stock market suffered its first weather-related closure in 27 years.

Millions of people in the eastern United States awoke on Tuesday to flooded homes, fallen trees and widespread power outages caused by the giant storm Sandy, which swamped New York City’s subway system and submerged streets in Manhattan’s financial district.The monster storm caused more than two-thirds of the East Coast’s refining capacity to shut down and fuel pipelines to idle. Early assessments show the region’s biggest plants may have escaped damage.

The monster storm caused more than two-thirds of the East Coast’s refining capacity to shut down and fuel pipelines to idle. Early assessments show the region’s biggest plants may have escaped damage.

Bracing for high winds
Bracing for high winds. (Reuters: Randall Hill)

Bracing for high winds: The winds of Hurricane Sandy pound waves onto the east side of Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, October 27, 2012.

Shopping for the storm
Shopping for the storm. (AP Photo: Louis Lanzano)

Shopping for the storm: Customers stock up on bread at a Manhattan grocery store, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in New York.

NYSE shuts down
NYSE shuts down. (AP Photo: Richard Drew)

NYSE shuts down: The floor of the New York Stock Exchange is empty of traders, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in New York. Trading has rarely stopped for weather since the Great Blizzard of 1888.  All major U.S. stock and options exchanges remained closed Monday and Tuesday, the first time that the weather caused a two-day market shuts down. A blizzard led to a late start and an early close on Jan. 8, 1996, according to the exchange’s parent company, NYSE Euronext. The NYSE shut down on Sept. 27, 1985 for Hurricane Gloria.

Morning commute in the rain
Morning commute in the rain. (Photo: Rex Features)

Morning commute in the rain: People walk on an empty street in New York as the massive storm Sandy, described by forecasters as one of the largest ever that hit the United States, makes its way towards the population-dense East Coast. Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, has asked the public to stay at home when Sandy slams the city. Nearly 10,000 flights have been canceled for Monday and Tuesday by airlines bracing for Hurricane Sandy.

Spooky gray NYC skyline
Spooky gray NYC skyline. (Reuters: Eduardo Munoz)


Spooky gray NYC skyline: This view from Exchange Place shows the skyline of lower Manhattan in darkness after a preventive power outage caused by the giant storm Sandy in New York on October 29, 2012.

Shopping in the rain
Shopping in the rain. (Photo: The Washington Post: Linda Davidson)

Shopping in the rain: Photo taken from the window of a grocery store of a woman shopper hurrying in the windblown rain of Hurricane Sandy on October 29, 2012.

Cover from the rain
Cover from the rain. (Reuters: Eduardo Munoz)

Cover from the rain: Hurricane Sandy brought inclement weather, high winds, and huge waves to the East coast.  A woman tries to take cover from rain in Hoboken while Hurricane Sandy approaches New Jersey, October 29, 2012.

Walking through flooded streets
Walking through flooded streets. (AP Photo: Alex Brandon)

Walking through flooded streets: A walk through the flood waters on Monday, Oct.ober 29, in Fenwick Island, Delaware,

The President in the rain
The President in the rain. (AP Photo: Jacquelyn Martin)

The President in the rain: After canceling his appearance at a morning campaign rally in Orlando, Fla., President Barack Obama walks toward the White House in a driving rain after returning to Washington to monitor preparations for early response to Hurricane Sandy, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012.

Fallen tree on top of a car in Hoboken, New Jersey
Fallen tree on top of a car in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Reuters: Gary Hershorn)

Fallen tree on top of a car in Hoboken, New Jersey: A workman cuts a tree in pieces after it fell on top of a car in Hoboken, New Jersey, October 29, 2012.

A crane dangles
A crane dangles. (Photo: Rex Features)

A crane dangles: A crane dangles over the Manhattan skyline at 157 West 57th Street after the winds from Hurricane Sandy cause it to collapse.

Waves crash on Scituate.
Waves crash on Scituate. (AP Photo: Elise Amendola)

Waves crash on Scituate: Ocean waves kick up near homes along Peggoty Beach in Scituate, Mass. Monday, Oct. 29, 2012.

High Water signs
High Water signs. (AP Photo: Alex Brandon)

High Water signs: A car goes through the high water as Hurricane Sandy bears down on the East Coast, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, in Ocean City, Md.

Governors of North Carolina, where steady rains were whipped by gusting winds Saturday night, to Connecticut declared states of emergency. Delaware ordered mandatory evacuations for coastal communities by 8 p.m. Sunday.

Subway floods

Subway floods. ( (Photo: Reuters: NY, NJ Port Authority)

Subway floods: This video frame grab from the NY/NJ Port Authority twitter feed October 29, 2012 shows floodwaters rush through an elevator shaft into the Port Authority Trans-Hudson’s (PATH) Hoboken, New Jersey station.

Collapsed facade of a four-story building on 14th
Collapsed facade of a four-story building on 14th. (AP Images: John Minchillo)

The collapsed facade of a four-story building: The facade of a four-story building on 14th Street and 8th Avenue collapsed onto the sidewalk, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in New York. Hurricane

Lower Manhattan goes dark

Lower Manhattan goes dark. (AP Images: Bebeto Matthews)

Lower Manhattan goes dark: Lower Manhattan goes dark during hurricane Sandy, on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, as seen from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Taxis under water
Taxis under water. (Photo: Rex Features)

Taxis under water: Hurricane Sandy brought inclement weather, high winds, and huge waves to the East coast. Taxi cabs line a flooded street in Queens on October 29, 2012.

Submerged car in the Dumbo section of the Brooklyn
Submerged car in the Dumbo section of the Brooklyn. (AP Images: Bebeto Matthews)

Submerged car in the Dumbo section of the Brooklyn: As the East River overflows during hurricane Sandy, on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, a submerged car in the Dumbo section of the Brooklyn borough of New York. Authorities warned that New York City and Long Island could get the worst of the storm surge: an 11-foot onslaught of seawater that could swamp lower  areas of the city.

Floodwaters in Hoboken, New Jerse
Floodwaters in Hoboken, New Jersey. (Reuters: Gary Hershorn)

Floodwaters in Hoboken, New Jersey: Floodwaters surround a car parked on a street in Hoboken, New Jersey October 29, 2012.

Building full with debris
Building full with debris. (Reuters: Eduardo Muno)

Building full with debris: The front of a building full of debris after the passing of giant storm Sandy at Exchange Place, New Jersey October 30, 2012.

Exchange Place debris
Exchange Place debris. (Reuters: Eduardo Munoz)

Exchange Place debris: Following Hurricane Sandy, debris litters the floor of Exchange Place in New Jersey, October 30, 2012.

Devastated homes after the storm
Devastated homes after the storm. (Reuters: Shannon Stapleton)

Devastated homes after the storm: Homes that are devastated by fire and the effects of Hurricane Sandy are seen at the Breezy Point section of the Queens borough of New York October 30, 2012. Millions of people across the eastern United States awoke on Tuesday to scenes of destruction wrought by monster storm Sandy, which knocked out power to huge swathes of the nation’s most densely populated region, swamped New York’s subway system and submerged streets in Manhattan’s financial district.


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