Sep 10, 2014

'Our Good Frank's Patriotic Song'


(Historynet) On September 1, 1814, after the British had left the city of Washington in flames, the noted D.C. lawyer Francis Scott Key rode from his stately home in Georgetown to the White House. Key, 35, came to the torched presidential mansion to ask permission to undertake a delicate mission involving a longtime family friend, Dr. William Beanes, a prominent local surgeon.
A few days earlier, British troops had raided several farms just east of Washington, including Beanes'. The physician then organized a posse that captured several British soldiers and threw them in a local jail. One escaped and returned with company the next night, August 28, capturing Beanes and two other Americans—Dr. William Hill and Philip Weems. The men were rousted from their beds at midnight and forced to ride 35 miles to Benedict in southern Maryland, where the British were about to embark for Baltimore. Continued

The House that Mencken Built

(City Paper) ... To read “Happy Days” in Baltimore is a disorienting experience. Mencken brings the city, especially Hollins market, to such vivid life that to walk out into the actual city of the present feels both familiar and uncanny. It is almost like science fiction. He writes of his father’s cigar shop, the saloons, the African-American culture in the alleys, the Arrabers, the police, the country house in Mount Washington, and everything is at once familiar and different. As Mencken wrote in 1925, “the old charm, in fact, still survives, despite the boomers, despite the street-wideners, despite the forward-lookers, despite all the other dull frauds who try to destroy it.” Continued

Sep 8, 2014

Let the River Run Wild

Conowingo Dam
(NYTimes) IF the Chesapeake Bay is America’s Estuary, then its largest tributary, the Susquehanna River, could arguably be called America’s River. But we certainly don’t treat it as a national treasure: This once magnificent watercourse, which runs through New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland toward the coast, is today an ecological disaster — largely thanks to four hydroelectric dams, built along its lower reaches between 1904 and 1931.
An impending license renewal by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for two of these dams will lock in another half-century of measures woefully inadequate to remediating the dams’ environmental consequences. Instead, all four should be removed. Continued 
Holtwood Dam
Safe Harbor Dam
York Haven Dam