The Children’s Crusade

Also from Wikipedia:

The long-standing view of the Children’s Crusade is some version of events with similar themes. A boy began preaching in either France or Germany claiming that he had been visited by Jesus and told to lead the next Crusade. Through a series of supposed portents and miracles he gained a considerable following, including possibly as many as 20,000 children. He led his followers southwards towards the Mediterranean Sea, where it is said he believed that the sea would part when he arrived, so that he and his followers could march to Jerusalem, but this did not happen. Two merchants gave passage on seven boats to as many of the children as would fit. The children were either taken to Tunisia and sold into slavery, or died in a shipwreck on the island of San Pietro (off Sardinia) during a gale. In some accounts they never reached the sea before dying or giving up from starvation and exhaustion. Scholarship has shown this long-standing view to be more legend than fact.

The Russell Tribunal

From Wikipedia:

The Russell Tribunal was a public international body organized by British philosopher and pacifist Bertrand Russell, along with Ken Coates and several others. It was designed to investigate and publicize war crimes and conduct of the American forces and its allies during the Vietnam War. The tribunal was constituted in November, 1966 and conducted over two sessions in 1967 in Stockholm, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark. It gained significant international attention, but was largely ignored in the US, where many considered it an ineffectual, biased show trial.

Representatives of 18 countries participated in the two sessions of this tribunal, formally calling itself the International War Crimes Tribunal. The tribunal committee consisted of 25 notable personages, predominantly from leftist peace organizations. Many of these individuals were winners of the Nobel Prize, Medals of Valor and awards of recognition in humanitarian and social fields. There was no direct representation of Vietnam or the United States on this 25 member panel, although a couple of members were American citizens.

More than 30 individuals testified or provided information to this tribunal. Among them were military personnel from the United States, as well as from each of the warring factions in Vietnam. Financing for the Tribunal came from many sources, including a large contribution from the North Vietnamese government after a request made by Russell to Ho Chi Minh.

Church of All Worlds

A religion based on Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land.

In 1962 CAW evolved from a group of friends and lovers who were in part inspired by the science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein. This book suggested a spiritual and social way of life and was a metaphor expressing the awakening social consciousness of the times. Inspired by this awakening of consciousness and Heinlein’s book, this group grew, evolved, became “water-kin” and created a religious organization that was recognized as a church by the federal government of the United States on June 18, 1970. They named this religious organization the Church of All Worlds after the church founded by the protagonist Valintine Smith in the book.

Oops

Steve Wynn accidentally put his elbow through a painting (Picasso’s “Le Rêve”) he had just sold for $139 million dollars.

The guests came at five-thirty, and Wynn ushered them in. On the wall to his left and right were several paintings, including a Matisse, a Renoir, and “Le Rêve.” The other three walls were glass, looking out onto an enclosed garden. He began to tell the story of the Picasso’s provenance. As he talked, he had his back to the picture. He was wearing jeans and a golf shirt. Wynn suffers from an eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa, which affects his peripheral vision and therefore, occasionally, his interaction with proximate objects, and, without realizing it, he backed up a step or two as he talked. “So then I made a gesture with my right hand,” Wynn said, “and my right elbow hit the picture. It punctured the picture.” There was a distinct ripping sound. Wynn turned around and saw, on Marie-Thérèse Walter’s left forearm, in the lower-right quadrant of the painting, “a slight puncture, a two-inch tear. We all just stopped. I said, ‘I can’t believe I just did that. Oh, shit. Oh, man.’ ”

Wynn turned around again. He put his pinkie in the hole and observed that a flap of canvas had been pushed back. He told his guests, “Well, I’m glad I did it and not you.”

(via Kottke)

Earth’s ‘Second Moon’

Earth has a “second moon.” Asteroid 2003 YN107 is looping around our planet once a year.

This news, believe it or not, is seven years old.

“2003 YN107 arrived in 1999,” says Paul Chodas of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program at JPL, “and it’s been corkscrewing around Earth ever since.” Because the asteroid is so small and poses no threat, it has attracted little public attention. But Chodas and other experts have been monitoring it. “It’s a very curious object,” he says.

Most near-Earth asteroids, when they approach Earth, simply fly by. They come and they go, occasionally making news around the date of closest approach. 2003 YN107 is different: It came and it stayed.

“We believe 2003 YN107 is one of a whole population of near-Earth asteroids that don’t just fly by Earth. They pause and corkscrew in our vicinity for years before moving along.”

You can go here to check out a simulation of the orbit.