Lawmaker’s son, UT student David Kernell, pleads not guilty in Palin e-mail hacking


David Christopher Kernell walked into federal court this morning in handcuffs, shackles and tennis shoes to plead not guilty to hacking Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s personal e-mail account.

He can stay out of jail for now as long as he stays off his computer.

The University of Tennessee student, who is the son of state Rep. Mike Kernell, D-Memphis, turned himself in today after being indicted by a federal grand jury.

He made his first court appearance this morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley and could go to trial Dec. 16.

“David Kernell surrendered voluntarily this morning after being informed of the charges,” said his lawyer, Wade Davies. “We look forward to (the case’s) ultimate resolution in court.”

The judge granted Kernell release as long as he stays off his computer, unless it’s for college purposes, and has no contact with Palin or her family.

The Dutch Tulip Bubble of 1637

From Damn Interesting:

As much as the tulip is associated with Holland, it is not native there. Rather it was introduced in 1593 by a botanist named Carolus Clusius, who brought it from Constantinople. He planted a small garden, intending to research the plant for medicinal purposes. Had Clusius’s neighbors been morally upright, the tulip might still be a rare exotic in the gardening world. Instead they broke into his garden and stole some of his bulbs in order to make some quick money, and in the process started the Dutch bulb trade.

Over the next several decades tulips became a fad among the rich of Holland, and prices began to mount. Soon even ordinary bulbs were selling for extraordinary prices, and the actually rare bulbs were astronomical. A single Viceroy tulip bulb would sell for 2500 florins a value roughly equivalent to $1,250 in current American dollars, while a rarer Semper Augustus bulb could easily go for twice that. One particularly amusing exchange showed the goods traded for one bulb – the lengthy list includes among other things: a bed, a complete suit of clothes, and a thousand pounds of cheese. At the height of the mania, in what seems a complete loss of sanity, the bulbs were deemed too valuable to risk planting by their (formerly) wealthy purchasers, and it became popular to display the plain ungrown bulbs. In at least one instance the plan for safety backfired when a visiting sailor mistook a tulip bulb for an onion, and proceeded to eat it for breakfast.

The height of the bubble was reached in the winter of 1636-37. Tulip traders were making (and losing) fortunes regularly. A good trader could earn up to 60,000 florins in a month– approximately $61,710 adjusted to current U.S. dollars. With profits like those to be had, nothing local governments could do stopped the frenzy of trading. Then one day in Haarlem a buyer failed to show up and pay for his bulb purchase. The ensuing panic spread across Holland, and within days tulip bulbs were worth only a hundredth of their former prices. The tulip bubble had burst.


The other day I asked readers to send in any old letters that they had from relatives and Teresa Sitz was kind enough to share this letter from the Civil War from a relative:

Amanda Lavina [Williams] Maxwell writes to her husband James Harvey Maxwell, who is serving in the Civil War. Amanda is 19, living with her 2-year-old daughter Margaret in Benton County Arkansas. James Harvey Maxwell survives the war and the family moves to East Texas. Amanda and James are the parents of Joseph Henry Maxwell who married Della Avery Stewart.

The original letter has been scanned and is here.

Benton Co Arks August the 9 1862

Dear husband. I now seat my self to write you a few lines to let you know that us are all well and I hope when these lines comes to hand they will find you well. The connection is all well as far as I know. I received your letter dated July the 16. I was glad to hear from you and hear that you was well. I have received 4 letters from you since you left home. I have not had the chance to send you a letter before. I want to see you most powerfull bad but I fear it will be some time before I will see you. Margaret…

…grows fast can say anything she wants to say. She says she wants to see her pa. When you take up winter quarters you may begin to build a house for I am coming to stay with you. If I live I want you to come home as soon as you can.

I will now tell you who has joined the army. Marion Tell Hubard, John Williams, Sam White, John and Jess James and Thomas Cowden, John McCoy, Arch Moor, Anderson Henry, William Henry, George Hearal, George Williams. That is all from here I believe. John Howdyshell is dead. He had the measels and tooked relaps and died. William Cowan is dead. Condrys wife is dead.

I got your mare in the spring and have got her yet have had hard work to keep her from the feds. They took old Cornel off once and kept him a while and turned him out and I got him again. There was one hundred and forty eight bushels of our wheat. The feds has been in here several times since you left home. They have been fired on many times. Several of them has been kiled. They was shot at one time and they surrounded the thicket where the men was and shot at them. Killed *old man Chasteen. Shot him six times and after he was dead Esq. Wimpy stuck his boyonet throug him. The rest of the men got away.

I will have mine and Margaret’s likeness taken the first chance I have and send them to you. I will send you a piece of mine and Margarets hair. I want you to rite every cance you have to send a letter and I will do the same. So nothing more but remains yours truly until death.

Amandy L. Maxwell to James H. Maxwell

* “Old Man Chasteen” was Reverend Jehu Chastain, born 30 DEC 1801, Pendleton District, Pickins County, South Carolina. He was killed 20 JUL 1862 in Benton County AR and is buried at the Fairmount Cemetery in Benton County.


From Atrios:

Let’s face it, just about anyone who is an undecided voter at this point is… well, not especially bright. Some are genuinely stupid, and some may be smart people who just don’t think paying attention to current events is a valuable use of their time. Obviously from the perspective of predicting election outcomes it’s useful to know what these people are thinking. However, it’s not clear why handing a debate over to 80 of them and letting them write the questions (chosen by Brokaw, of course) is supposed to enlighten the rest of us.

Browse the Artifacts of Geek History in Jay Walker’s Library

From Wired:

Nothing quite prepares you for the culture shock of Jay Walker’s library. You exit the austere parlor of his New England home and pass through a hallway into the bibliographic equivalent of a Disney ride. Stuffed with landmark tomes and eye-grabbing historical objects—on the walls, on tables, standing on the floor—the room occupies about 3,600 square feet on three mazelike levels. Is that a Sputnik? (Yes.) Hey, those books appear to be bound in rubies. (They are.) That edition of Chaucer … is it a Kelmscott? (Natch.) Gee, that chandelier looks like the one in the James Bond flick Die Another Day. (Because it is.) No matter where you turn in this ziggurat, another treasure beckons you—a 1665 Bills of Mortality chronicle of London (you can track plague fatalities by week), the instruction manual for the Saturn V rocket (which launched the Apollo 11 capsule to the moon), a framed napkin from 1943 on which Franklin D. Roosevelt outlined his plan to win World War II. In no time, your mind is stretched like hot taffy.