Friday, June 06, 2008

McCain Picks VP, But No-one Cares.

Republican candidate John Sidney McCain III announced his Vice-Presidential running mate today, at a press conference attended by no-one at all."Who cares?" said a staffer, "It's not like they have a chance of winning the White House."

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Peter Puget

Peter Puget (1765- October 31, 1822) was an officer in the British Royal Navy, best known for his exploration of Puget Sound.

Mr. Midshipman Puget
Puget's ancestors had fled France for Britain during Louis XIV's persecution of the Huguenots. His father, John, was a successful merchant and banker, but died in 1767, leaving Puget's mother, Esther, with two sons and three daughters. In 1778, twelve-year-old Peter entered the navy as a midshipman and served in the following ships:

1778: HMS Dunkirk, an aging two-decker, Captain John Milligan. Harbor service.
December 1779: HMS Syren, frigate, Captain Edmund Dodd. Patrolled North Sea, battling blockade runners.

1780: HMS Lowestoft, 64, Captain Edmund Dodd (transferred from Syren); bound for the West Indies squadron. There, Puget served with a small force of naval gunners reinforcing the garrison at St. Kitts, and survived the defense of Brimstone Hill against the vastly superior forces of French Admiral DeGrasse. Probably served in Rodney and Hood's victory of April 12, 1782 at the Saintes.

November 1782: HMS Thetis, Captain John Blankett; Gilbralter and Mediterranean
1783: HMS Europa, battleship, Captain Vashon, flying the broad pennet of Commodore Alan Gardner; service in Jamaica. Met then-Lieutenant George Vancouver. Paid off in 1787.

1787: Rejoined Captain Dodd on the Lowestoft, but within two months, that was paid off too.

1788 (?): East Indiaman Prince

Lieutenant Puget and the Discovery

Upon returning to England, Puget was assigned to the HMS Discovery, temporarily as a Master's Mate, and then commissioned her 3rd Lieutenant on June 11, 1790 to assist in its fitting out for an exploration of the South Pacific. However, during the Great Spanish Armament, it was used as a depot vessel. When the crisis ended with the Treaty of Nootka Sound, the mission changed; the first priority was to physically accept possession of the Sound from the Spanish. An accurate survey the North American Pacific Coast, and other surveys, were important secondary missions.

Because the Admiralty, following the Mutiny on the Bounty incident, had ordered, as a precaution against mutiny, that ships no longer make such long voyages alone, the armed tender HMS Chatham was assigned to the expedition, and HMS Daedelus was to bring supplies a year later.

In 1791, Discovery and Chatham sailed to Cape Town, Australia, Tahiti and the Sandwich Isles before starting a detailed survey of the Pacific North American coast, from the Columbia River to Alaska. Many features were named after friends or persons of influence. When it was hoped that the Georgian Strait and Admiralty Inlet might lead to the Northwest Passage, Vancouver anchored the ships near modern-day Seattle, Washington and set Puget in command of two rowing craft to survey south (May 20-27, 1792). In recognition of Puget's work, Vancouver named the south end Puget Sound, a name that over time encompassed the whole.

Puget was given command of Chatham when her first captain was murdered in Hawai'i and his replacement was sent with dispatches back to England.

Commander and Captain
While only a lieutenant-in-command of Chathem, Puget served with distinction for the rest of the survey. He assisted Vacouver in negotiations with the Spanish at Nootka Sound. In 1795, the two-ship squadron returned to England by way of Cape Horn, capturing a Dutch East Indiaman along the way. Once home, Puget was confirmed in the rank of Commander.

In February 1796, Commander Puget was given the tiny Adelphi with which to protect a supply convoy to Gibralter. To protect the return convoy, he fitted out an armed freighter, the Esther, using his own funds. On the return voyage, he captured a Spanish merchantman and sent it ahead with a prize crew. Then his convoy was attacked by French frigate La Bellona, and Puget interposed his tiny vessel to let the other ships flee. Puget then bribed the French captain (pointing out that he was unlikely to collect much in prize money) and brought his command home. Ironically, the British Admiralty found a way not to pay Puget prize money on the merchantman, although it did cover his expenses, including the bribe.

In 1797, Puget was given command of the sloop-of-war HMS Raven and join the fleet of Sir John Jervis. Jervis put him in charge of the San Nicholas, a Spanish ship-of-the-line, still crewed by Spaniards; Puget suppressed a mutiny and delivered the crew to Lisbon.

1798: Captain of troopship HMS Van Tromp
March, 1799: Flag captain for Admiral Whitshed on HMS Temeraire
1800: Captain of ship-of-the-line HMS Monarch; served with the channel fleet until she was paid off in 1802, following the Peace of Amiens
1804: Flag captain for Rear Admiral Sir Thomas Graves on HMS Foudroyant; served in Channel blockade until seriously injured in 1805; sent home to recover
February 1807: Captain of ship-of-the-line HMS Goliath.

In 1807, Puget played a decisive role at the Second Battle of Copenhagen. He lead an inshore squadron of shallow-draft vessels (including two bomb ketches) to disable the Danish gunboats and to cover the army's seaward flank in a maneuver similar to Nelson's action in the First Battle of Copenhagen. However, British public reaction to the second attack was unfavorable, since it was an attack on a neutral country; no fame attached to Puget's success.

Shore career
1809: At the request of Admiral Sir Richard Strachan, Puget planned and assisted in the successful amphibious invasion of the Dutch islands of Walcheren and Vlissingen.
1810-1817: Commissioner of the Navy at Madras. He supervised naval affair throughout much of India, fought the corruption endemic to supply practices, and developed the new naval base at Trincomalee.

Thereafter, Puget settled into family life, living in Bath, England for reasons of health. He was gazetted a Companion of the Bath in 1818 and, according to the rules of seniority, he was commissioned Rear Admiral of the Blue on July 19, 1821.
The Bath Chronicle memorialized him:

"Died on Thursday 31st October at his home in Grosvenor Place, after a long and painful illness, Rear Admiral Peter Puget C.B. This lamented officer had sailed round the world with the late Captain Vancouver, had commanded various men-of-war and was many years Commissioner at Madras, the climate of which place greatly contributed to the destruction of his health."

Personal life
Peter Puget married Hannah Elrington on February 6, 1797. They had 7 sons and 4 daughters.

Their eldest son, Peter Richard Puget, went to America and became an actor. Other sons served in the British Army or Navy, one of which (William David) retired as a Captain. The daughter all married and it is through one of them, Eleanor Catherine, came the only known descendent of Peter and Hannah Puget.

Hannah Puget never remarried, died on September 14, 1849, and is buried next to Peter, in the church yard of Woolley, in Bath. The original sarcophagus is heavily weatherworn, and has been supplemented by a bronze plaque donated by the Seattle Historical Society.


* Wing, Robert and Newell, Gordon (1979). Peter Puget: Lieutenant on the Vancouver Expedition, fighting British naval officer, the man for whom Puget Sound was named. Gray Beard Publishing. ISBN 0-933686-00-5.
* Muster Table of His Majesties Sloop The Discovery. Admiralty Records in the Public Record Office, U.K. (1791).
* Naish, John (1996). The Interwoven Lives of George Vancouver, Archibald Menzies, Joseph Whidbey and Peter Puget: The Vancouver Voyage of 1791-1795. The Edward Mellen Press, Ltd.. ISBN 0-7734-8857-X.

The above is from an article on wikipedia to which I made large contributions (about 90% of the text.) It is of course under a free license so anyone can use it (subject to the license). I hope anyone who can improve the article will do so! The current version (which has probably been editted more) is here:

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Moving Video on this Historic Occasion

I'm a white guy (always have been, always will be, works for me just fine)
and I voted for the best candidate on the ballot, who happened to be a black guy. No big deal.

But what I didn't get is that is actually is a really big deal, to a lot of Americans.

Here's a beautiful montage of a diverse cross-section American citizens who voted for Senator Obama in the Democratic Primaries, and the pride and joy we share in such a historic and symbolic moment.
I sure enjoyed it, and even learned a little.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

McCain and the Magic Lamp

Remember when McCain went shopping in Baghdad? He got this lamp for real cheap, and after all his lobbyists went home for the night, he bumped into it and the genie appears.

Genie: "Ok, you saw the movie, you know the rules: you get 3 wishes, but I can't make anyone love you and I can't bring anything back to life. OK, what's wish number 1?"

McCain says: "I want all American voters to love me!"

The genies says: "Hey, you wasted a wish. I TOLD YOU I can't make anyone love you. OK, what's wish number 2?"

McCain says: "I wish I could take that wish back."

The genie says: "What, you think I'm stupid? You're trying to get an extra wish, and it doesn't work that way. You lose. What's wish number 3?"

McCain: "Whew! OK, I want you to make my presidential campaign unstoppable!"

Genie: "What an idiot! I TOLD you I can't bring anything back to life!!!"

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Haiku Hotel

Craigs List "Haiku Hotel" is a lot of fun, especially when one haiku inspires (or challenges) a reply. Here's an example:

Subject: Dreadful Hiaku


Mere form makes no poem
Why must internet promote
Such dreadful haiku?

Feral_Drollery replied:

Poem could be two
Or maybe one syllable
Poem poem poem

Making a hair-jel joke, I replied:

A hairy problem....
Stick syllables together
With a Poem aid ?

Feral_Drollery replied:

Remove it quickly
For a monosyllabic....
open poem scab (ouch)


To cure a bad poem.....
Rub down with good alcohol
Taken orally.

Try "Haiku Hotel" today!

Monday, June 02, 2008

5 things that are always on sale

Whether the purchase is as small as an earring or as big as a house, there are some items you should never pay full price for. Here's more ...

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

GOP Denounces Dem Compromise on Fl, MI Delegates

Outraged Republican Party officials denounced the compromise reached today by the Democratic Party Rules Committee, seating 50% of the delegates from Michigan and Florida even though those states had violated party rules.

"The Republican Party did the exact same thing." said GOP ethicist Karl Rove, "The Democrats are just big old copycats!"

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