June 20 - Welcome, West Virginia!

Posted on June 20, 2018

Right now there is a proposition on the November ballot that California be carved up into three different states.

I think that would be a terrible idea - but that makes me wonder about all the times that states were carved up into smaller states. Like, what's with North Dakota and South Dakota, North Carolina and South Carolina, and today's statehood anniversary, West Virginia, and its original state home, Virginia?

These states are separate...for different reasons!

In the Dakotas' case, they split while territories rather than as states, and it was differences in economies and populations, and it was shenanigans over moving the capital of the territory, and it was cultural splits that made the territories want statehood at different times.

In the Carolinas' case, they also split before statehood, when they were just British colonies. South Carolina formed around rice cultivation, with a whole of slaves laboring in rice fields for British colonists who quickly grew rich. North Carolina had slavery as well, but the enslaved laborers were a much smaller percentage of the population. Instead, the bulk of the population was made up of small-time tobacco farmers, former indentured servants, and discontented people who felt slighted by their richer neighbors to the north (Virginia) and the south (South Carolina).

And now for today's special state, West Virginia. It really, truly was a part of the state of Virginia. When did it break away? And why?

Because of the Civil War.

Because of the South's secession from the Union.

Because of loyalty-to-country.

West Virginia is the only state that was formed by seceding from a Confederate state. In a convention in 1861, counties in northwestern Virginia decided to break away from Virginia, and the new state was formally admitted to the Union on this date in 1863.

The state is known for a BUNCH of outdoor opportunities, especially caving...

...and fishing...

...but also hiking, biking, rock climbing, and more!


Also on this date:

June 19 – Labour Day in Trinidad and Tobago

Posted on June 19, 2018

Today is the anniversary of an uprising on the Caribbean Islands of Trinidad and Tobago.

But not a political-overthrow-the-government uprising. More like a workers-striking-for-their-rights uprising. That's why this is seen as an important date in the T&T union movement - and why today is the islands' Labour Day (people in the US would spell it "Labor" Day).

The police tried to arrest the leader of the strike at an oilfield on this date in 1937. That leader, "Buzz" Butler, spent months on the run from the police and eventually spent two years in prison. But then he ended up forming his own political party, he won the nation's highest honor, the Trinity Cross, a statue of him was placed on the very spot where the police tried to arrest him, and a major highway is named for him.

Plus, a holiday!

Check out some of the stuff that makes Trinidad and Tobago special:

Super gorgeous beaches and rivers, of course...
The limbo dance was invented in Trinidad and Tobago.

This is considered a natural "swimming pool" in the middle of the ocean.
It has a sandy bottom, and it's shallow enough for these sorts of wedding photos:

This is a pitch lake.
It is full of black ooey-gooey tar, or pitch:

Also on this date:

June 18 - Happy Birthday, Yuken Teruya

Posted on June 18, 2018

Is this what you do with your old toilet paper rolls? 

I wish!

Japanese-born artist Yuken Teruya makes his art out of the unlikeliest of materials.

Like gift bags...

Or even a McDonald's bag!!  

These artworks obviously pull from intricate Japanese paper-cutting techniques (such as kirigami) - and just as obviously comment on consumer culture and on the nature of "trash."


Thank you, Mr. Teruya, and happy birthday!

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