Mariners


I mentioned on Tuesday that I would be picking up my copy of “Christopher Columbus, Mariner,” by the great Naval historian, Samuel Elliot Morrison, and reading about the voyage Columbus made in 1492 with the Santa Maria. This was spurred by  the recent confirmation of the discovery of what appears to the remains of the great ship. So last night I made it through the first sections, and all the way to the arrival in the New World, and I have to say this – I didn’t know anything about Christopher Columbus. In our “modern,” politically correct world, Columbus is painted as evil and filled with avarice for conquest, which – as it turns out – is not only untrue but unfair. Columbus could certainly use some positive spin, as it were, but he was a man who believed something (that he could reach China by sailing west), and he was remarkable in his sticking to it, even offering some years earlier to sail the mission for free. When the King and Queen turned him down, he continued to advocate for the mission, sold the idea to a few ministers, including one who agreed to raise the money for the voyage himself, and then told the King and Queen the mission would no longer be free to them, but he would now be rewarded with titles, real estate and gold IF he succeeded. They turned him down again and he left, only to have Queen Isabella change her mind – influenced heavily by the Minister – and send for him to return so that she could accept his terms.

Don’t get me wrong, Columbus is no Washington. He s deeply flawed and he knows it. He is anti-Semitic (as were most non-Jews in Spain in 1492) and perceived by some as something of a “dandy.” He doesn’t curse, he is deeply religious (as were most Spanish sailors of 1492) and he does a strong belief that he will become fabulously wealthy and famous IF he can succeed. As his three ships (seized by the government for his voyage) leave Spain on the same day that the Jews must be out of Spain or face death, his little fleet actually passes several other ships carrying the last of the Jews to Holland or “more tolerant Muslim countries.” Columbus makes it clear that he too, has no room for the Jews in the lands that he plans to discover.

The first voyage is remarkable for its normality and safety. The reason he wants three ships in the first place (his personal favorite is the Niña) is to recover any who fall overboard or if one of the ships should sink, yet they all make the crossing in what will later been shown to be above average time and without a single casualty. Columbus is remarkable in that he is almost daily exactly 9% high in his estimate of distance travelled, but otherwise his navigation – as far as he knows – is spot on. He does believe that he is on the latitude of Japan, and figures that by sailing west, he will reach Japan, or China, which he will then clam for Spain. So strongly does he believe this, that he hs brought along a translator who is fluent in Arabic, which he believes will help him communicate with the Asians he will meet.

They crew is motivated and while they become restless and do want to turn back on October 10th, the truth is that it is more his Captains than his crew. But winning a three day reprieve and agreement to continue on, he reaches San Salvador at 2am on the third day, October 12th, 1492.

This is not the story taught to our kids today. But it should be. Just because we know the world is round and the trip was shorter than they thought, doesn’t take away from the courage and determination of Columbus and his men, virtually all of whom – in an oddity of history – we know their names. It’s just another reminder to us today, that the insurmountable obstacle… isn’t.

Here in the Golden State the fracking argument may be settled not by science, earthquakes or even law, but by HOW MUCH WATER IS REQUIRED by the process.

Did a FISC Judge lie to the American people about pushback against the NSA by Phone Companies? the Judges said that there was no objection or pushback, but NOW WE KNOW DIFFERENTLY.

The Jail in San Joaquin County isn’t and issue only in the Sheriff’s race, it’s spilling over into the County Supervisors Race as well. Paul Canepa and Kathy Miller are TAKING SIDES ON THE TWO PLANS as well.

You want to know what happens when you raise the minimum wage to a level that is not sustainable? On Navy bases, the McDonald’s RESTAURANTS ARE CLOSING. There is actually an even worse effect for Veterans, in that the contractors who provide care at Vets homes re losing their contracts since they can’t afford the new wage. VETS ARE LOSING THEIR BEDS in Nursing homes.

The Governor continues to claim that the States finances are getting stronger. It’s a subtle argument, given that even the most minute of improvement can be labeled as “stronger.” But the FACT remains that (a) the Budget is NOT balanced and (b) the “wall of debt” is now $340 BILLION for which the legislature has no plan to deal with at least 58% of that debt and (c) the May revise sends spending shooting up at least $1 Billion BECAUSE OF “UNEXPECTED MEDICARE INCREASES.” Well, who didn’t know that was coming? You would literally have to have brains made out of rocks to not have known that Medicare was going to explode after you accepted the expansion of Medicare as part of Obamacare (he loves that name!)

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About Dave

Talk Show host, lifelong Baseball and Star Trek fan, US Navy Submariner and Fire Control Technician (Ballistic Missile) 1st Class Petty Officer (Submarine Qualified), Dave is married with four daughters, one son, two sons-in-law and two grandchildren plus one on the way. He resides quietly in Manteca, CA, where he records his podcast, Plausibly Live, three days a week. He also writes for several other blogs and as a "Stay at home Dad" plays a lot of games with his son. Dave loves books, history and is learning to weld and drive a forklift. Just for fun. Dave is also a Life Member of the Disabled American Veterans and a Member of the US Submarine Veterans.

Posted on May 15, 2014, in American, History and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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