where the temperature gets all the way down to 65!, in most of Alaska, 65 degrees is a good summer day. More important, even today, one-third of Alaska’s population cannot be reached by road. There is one river barge a year for the ‘heavy stuff’ and everything else comes in by plane. And for the smaller villages, from the plane to your home, it’s by snow machine or dogsled. In some villages mail is once a week and there are dead zones where you IPhone will not work. But there is one thing all Alaskans have in common. Barrow – recently renamed Utqiaġvik – may be 3,500 air miles from Washington D. C. but it is still the click of a mouse from D. C. The Internet has made us all one nation and what happens in D. C. no longer ‘stays in D. C.’
As you are reading this, are being quarantined offshore in San Francisco because they might have the coronavirus. But there has not been a single story about the risks faced by those of us who live in Anchorage, Alaska. Every day we land more international cargo in Anchorage from Japan, China and Korea that Los Angeles and New York combined. There are so many Korean Air pilots and flight crew per day – about 300 – there is a special hotel in Anchorage just for those people. And there is no coronavirus here. Maybe someone should be investigating what we doing right that everyone else is doing wrong.
History is not the story of the past; it is the study of the future. A century ago, the world faced what was now known as the “Spanish Flu.” It was a pandemic which made its appearance in the spring of 1918 and killed more than 50 million people worldwide. The President of the United States at that time, Woodrow Wilson, did not act fast enough to slow the spread of the disease and 675,000 Americans contracted the disease and died. History has taught us that speed is needed to contain the coronavirus. Let us hope the American medical establishment does not repeat the mistakes of the past.
Quick! Who is this guy? Let me give you a hint. Born in 1879, he entered the American Army as a private during the Spanish-American War. After the war he was in the United States Army Signal Corps and spent four years in Alaska stringing telegraph wire from Alaska Gold Rush boomtowns to the Lower 48 states – then, actually, the Lower 45 states. He spent the next two decades pestering the United States military to seriously look at aviation. He antagonized the ‘powers that be’ by predicting future wars would be fought in the air, not on the ground or on the sea. Or under the sea. Military dollars, this man said, should be used for air power not more battleships. This, the Navy did not like. To squelch the concept, the Navy scheduled a bombing of two derelict ships which turned out to be fraud. Rather than using bombs that went ‘boom,’ the Navy used sandbags which went ‘splat.’ When word leaked to Congress, it demanded a real test – which took place on July 21, 1921. The target was the captured German battleship Ostfriesland. Even without a direct hit, it sank in nine minutes. But still the Navy would not seriously consider air power. Four years later this man accused the United States Navy of “almost treasonable administration of the national defense” and that was too much for the brass. He was court martialed. Found guilty, he resigned. He died in 1936 and five years later, on December 7, 1941, the United States military learned just how right he had been. He was Billy Mitchell. Just because someone’s ideas appear to be ‘crazy,’ does not mean they are wrong. https://bit.ly/2RsZ6N1, https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi
This is not a photograph of the past, it is a picture of the future. The world is running out of water. Did you know the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the birthplace of civilization, are running dry? Because of global climate change, increased population and our failure to take recycling seriously, we are running out of water. Drinking water. There’s plenty of water when it floods, but that water is not collected. And we do not recycle dark water. We simply flush it out to sea – where it pollutes the ocean. Take a long, hard look at this water delivery system in 1905 in Nome during the Alaska Gold Rush. Everyone has to drink water every day. If we – Americans and citizens of the world – do not take water shortages seriously, this will be our delivery system of the future.
Just a bunch of Eskimos, right? It’s one of those pictures you’d stumble upon in a collection and say, ‘just a bunch of Natives’ and go on to the next photograph. In actuality it is historically staggering. This is the Kivalina City Council in 1900, four years BEFORE the Alaska Gold Rush in Nome. Kivalina is 80 miles north of Arctic Circle and in 1900, this ‘bunch of Natives’ was smart enough to ‘see the future.’ So they organized as a city – and Alaska was not even a Territory yet! And just in case you are saying “Yeah, well, you know, what’s the big deal . . .” look in the background. The writing on the blackboard is in English, lists at least three villages which were probably on the same civic trajectory, has a dollar figure at the top with math on a separate sheet of paper. Just because someone wears mukluks and eats seal does not mean he/she does not know what is happening, what will happen and how to plan for the future.
This is one of those ‘usual’ photographs of Alaska Gold Rush: a bunch of men waiting for something. In this case it was 1900 in Nome just before the newspapers from the Seattle came in. Probably in the early days of June after the ice mantle on the Bering Sea broke. I can tell it’s late spring because the mud streets are still frosty. Which is why no one has mud on their boots. There are about 20 people in the photo, three of them women – a good random sample of the population. What I find particularly interesting – both historically and politically – is the sign “TO THE DESTITUTE PEOPLE – NOME.” I can’t read what it says but Nome was famous for the so-called ‘blue ticket.’ Since Nome was/is frozen in from about September 15th to June 1st, and if you had no money in 1900 you would have to spend the winter stealing to pay for food. So every September before freeze-up, Nome businesses took up a collection to buy steamboat tickets – blue tickets of the Alaska Steamship Company – to send the destitute to Seattle. There was a homeless problem in Nome in 1900 and we have a homeless problem now. History is not the story of the past; it is a study of the future. Everything that HAS happened WILL happen again. History cycles and that, in a nutshell, unfortunately, is NOT how history is being taught in our schools – thank you very much textbook publishers who profit ahead of education.
Politics boring? Well, you don’t know how lucky you are. In America, you have a choice. No so much in ancient Athens. This is an ancient Greek kleroterion. When it came time for choose people to the run the city, basically the bureaucrats, 500 names were chosen at random. This Council of 500 (boule) served for year. Each individual – only free men who had completed their military training – put a token (pinakia) in a slot in one of the vertical set of holes. Each tribe had its own vertical set of holes. Then wooden cover was placed over the kleroterion and air blown inside with colored tokens. When a token landed in one of the slots, that person was selected for the next round of random selection. The process went on until all eligible citizens had a chance of selection. Whether you followed politics or had your head in the sand, you might be selected to run the city of Athens for year! https://bit.ly/2RsZ6N1, https://www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi
Sometimes it is the ‘little things’ that tell the “big story.’ As an example, here, among Confederate prisoners taken in the siege of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, are four blacks. Keep in mind, these are POWs. Two of them are listed as “slaves” and two as “free.” “Slaves” in the Confederate army? “Free” blacks in the Confederate Army? What?! They must have been militarily significant to be sent to a POW camp. Slaves sent to a POW camp. Free blacks sent to a POW camp. There has to be more to this story.