A Julian Assange Christmas

While waiting for his next court date, WikiLeaks front man Julian Assange is staying (under house arrest) at Ellingham Hall in Norfolk, England. The estate is owned Vaughan Smith, an English restaurateurfarmer, independent journalist and libertarian. Newsweek has some photos of the holiday festivities.

The Smith family sits down to an elaborate Christmas dinner with their notorious guest, as Vaughan Smith (standing, at right) lights the candles. While the digs have been likened to the swank Swiss chalet director Roman Polanski inhabited when he was arrested on a decades-old rape conviction that he’d fled (Swiss authorities eventually decided not to extradite him to the United States), Ellingham Hall—with its 10 bedrooms and 600 acres of land—puts that Alpine cabin to shame.



Blog Year in Review

The Blog-Health-o-Meter declares Aaron Hill’s Notebook (formerly Aaron Hill’s Notes on History) “fresher than ever” in 2010.
The Blog-Health-o-Meter declares Aaron Hill’s Notebook (formerly Aaron Hill’s Notes on History) “fresher than ever” in 2010.

The folks at WordPress sent me a message about my blog, declaring it “fresher than ever” and offering some number comparisons for traffic. Below is the computer-generated summary of stats and details about my blog in 2010 I was sent via email:

Crunching numbers

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,700 times in 2010. That’s about 9 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 401 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 404 posts. There were 4 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 320kb.

The busiest day of the year was July 29th with 129 views. The most popular post that day was Feminism & History.

Featured image

This abstract painting was computer-generated, inspired by my blog stats.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, historiann.com, en.wordpress.com, zzsst.co.cc, and alphainventions.com.

Some visitors came searching. The most searches were for Niagara Falls running dry in 1969, a newly discovered human genetic mutation (a SNP) known as L338, and bison antiquus.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Feminism & History July 2010
1 comment


About February 2009
1 comment


Bio May 2010


When Niagara Was Dry December 2010


L338 November 2010
1 comment


The First Day of the Year

Here’s a list of stuff that’s happened on January 1st throughout history.

The Colosseum in Rome
The Colosseum in Rome

404  –  The last gladiator competition occurs in Rome.

1673 – Regular mail delivery begins between New York and Boston.

1772 – The first traveler’s cheques are issued in London.

1776 – General George Washington orders the hoisting of the Union Flag.

1808 – The importation of slaves is prohibited by Congress.

1847 – Michigan becomes the first state to abolish capital punishment.

1892 – Ellis Island becomes a reception center for new immigrants.

1956 – Elvis Presley records “Heartbreak Hotel.”

1966 – “Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel reaches no. 1 on the charts.

1966 – All U.S. cigarette packs have to carry “Caution: Cigarette smoking may be hazardous to your health.”

1971 – Cigarette advertisements can no longer be shown on television.

1972 – French actor Maurice Chevalier dies.

1994 – Actor Cesar Romero dies.

2001 – Actor Ray Walston dies.


Decline in Major American Cities

Although the 2010 census showed population growth for the country as a whole, “some cities . . . have experienced such severe hardship and decline that their populations have actually decreased significantly. New Orleans has lost more than a quarter of its population in the past ten years as the result of Hurricane Katrina. The rest of the cities that have lost major parts of their population have seen their flagship industries which include coal, steel, oil, and auto-related manufacturing fall off or completely collapse. . . . ”

Rochester, New York
Population: 207,294
Population Change 2000-2009: -12,180
Population Percent Change 2000-2009: -5.55%
Home Vacancy: 15.3%

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Population: 311,647
Population Change 2000-2009: -22,056
Population Percent Change 2000-2009: -6.61%
Home Vacancy: 14.1%

Dayton, Ohio
Population: 153,843
Population Change 2000-2009: -11,961
Population Percent Change 2000-2009: -7.21%
Home Vacancy: 18.9%

Cleveland, Ohio
Population: 431,369
Population Change 2000-2009: -45,205
Population Percent Change 2000-2009: -9.49%
Home Vacancy: 17.5%

Buffalo, New York
Population: 270,240
Population Change 2000-2009: -21,970
Population Percent Change 2000-2009: -7.52%
Home Vacancy: 17.2%

Flint, Michigan
Population: 111,475
Population Change 2000-2009: -13,266
Population Percent Change 2000-2009: -10.63%
Home Vacancy: 18%

New Orleans, Louisiana
Population: 354,850
Population Change 2000-2009: -128,813
Population Percent Change 2000-2009: -26.63%
Home Vacancy: 21.5%


Britain’s Winter: A 1,000 Year Event?

BRITAIN’S winter is the coldest since 1683 and close to being the chilliest in nearly 1,000 years.

That makes it the second coldest since records began in 1659.

The chilliest on record was 1683/84, when the average was -1.17C and the River Thames froze over for two months.

But with January and February to come, experts believe we could suffer the most freezing cold winter in the last 1,000 years.

The Met Office’s Charlie Powell said: “It’s rare to have cold this prolonged, with temperatures falling incredibly low.

Although official weather records only go back to 1659, weather experts said the centuries from 1100 to 1500, dubbed the “Medieval warm period”, would not have produced winters as cold as today.

So 2011 could end up being the coldest winter of the last millennium.


Roberto Clemente

Roberto Clemente, future Hall of Fame baseball player, is killed along with four others when the cargo plane in which he is traveling crashes off the coast of Puerto Rico. Clemente was on his way to deliver relief supplies to Nicaragua following a devastating earthquake there a week earlier.

At the end of September, Clemente had gotten his 3,000th hit in the final game of the season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was a hero in his native Puerto Rico, where he spent much of the off-season doing charity work. Some of his charitable work had taken him to Nicaragua, so Clemente was particularly distressed when he learned that very little aid was getting to victims of a devastating December 23 earthquake near Managua.

Clemente decided to collect supplies on his own and personally deliver them. The plan went awry when Clemente chose for the mission a plane owned by Arthur Rivera. Rivera had bought an old DC-7 propeller plane to go along with a DC-3 he operated to haul cargo in the Caribbean. Apparently, the plane was in such bad shape that others wondered why Rivera had bothered to purchase it. In fact, the DC-7 had to be ferried from Miami to Puerto Rico.

Rivera painted the exterior but did not do any significant work to the engine. This came as no surprise to safety crews at the airports out of which Rivera worked: He had been repeatedly cited for safety violations in previous years. On December 2, Rivera took the DC-7 out to test the engine but forgot to close the hydraulic pump and ended up putting the plane into a drainage ditch. This bent two of the propeller blades and damaged the landing gear. Only some of these damages were fixed prior to the December 31 flight.

On the previous day, Clemente was at San Juan International Airport’s cargo area helping to load relief supplies when he discovered there were far more than could be carried in the plane he had available. Rivera approached Clemente and offered to fly the supplies to Nicaragua for $4,000, not telling Clemente he had no crew for the plane. Clemente agreed and Rivera scrambled to find a pilot. He located Jerry Hill, who had a checkered record, and began to load the plane. It was later determined that Rivera loaded the plane over its maximum capacity. In fact, Clemente himself was warned by someone at the airport that the plane looked dangerously overloaded when he was about to board.

The plane took off at 9 p.m. and the sounds of engine failure were heard as it went down the runway. It reached an altitude of only 200 feet before exploding and plunging into the ocean. Rescue workers were sent out immediately, but the task was next to impossible in the darkness. The bodies were never found. The news hit Puerto Rico hard–one friend of Clemente described it as the “night that happiness died.”

A subsequent investigation into the crash revealed that the plane never should have been put in the air and that the pilot had erred by over-boosting the engines.

In 1973, Clemente was posthumously inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. In 2002, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


A Literal Mess Down at City Hall

From 970 KFGO AM:

A real mess at the City Hall in Watertown, South Dakota. Mayor Gary Williams says there was a water leak that went undetected over the Christmas holiday. A hose that runs into the refrigerator for the automatic ice maker came loose.

At least 900 gallons of water spread throughout three levels. Soggy ceiling tiles fell onto some desks and the carpet in half the building was soaked. . . .