Monday, January 30, 2012

USS Monitor 150th Launch Anniversary

USS Monitor (1862) Line engraving published in Harper's Weekly, September 1862, page 433, depicting the launching of the ship at the Continental Iron Works, Greenpoint, New York, on 30 January 1862.

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the USS Monitor’s launch from the Continental Iron Works, Greenpoint, New York. The USS Monitor was the first ironclad warship commissioned by the US Navy and on March 9, 1862 fought the Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia at Hampton Roads, Virginia, only a day after Virginia had ravaged the Union fleet blockading the James River. Less than nine months later, the now-famous Monitor was under tow, heading south to Beaufort, North Carolina, when, in heavy seas, the vessel sank, taking sixteen of its crew with it.

John D. Broadwater, author of USS Monitor: A Historic Ship Completes Its Final Voyage, (Texas A&M Press, March) was the manager of the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, where he directed seven major expeditions to the remains of the Civil War ironclad warship. Not until 1973 was the inverted hulk located, and in 1995, partial recovery of the wreck began under the auspices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in partnership with the US Navy. The story of the subsequent protection and management of the historic resource, and the raising of major hull components including the gun turret, add another layer of history to the Monitor’s fascinating story.

Kelsey Lawrence

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mordecai Lee on the Reorganization of Federal Government

On January 21, 2012 the Milwaukee, Wisconsin Journal Centennial picked up the Texas A&M University Press author Mordecai Lee’s Op-Ed on President Obama’s recent plan for reorganizing the federal government.

“As a professor of public administration, I wholeheartedly support efforts to make the bureaucracy more efficient. But as a professor of public administration history, I am apprehensive that the president is making some fatal first steps.” –Lee

Over the past hundred years, every president from Taft to Johnson has proposed reorganization of the executive branch, and Lee believes that if President Obama were to study up on these histories, he could learn two valuable lessons. One, the president needs supporters in Congress to push for his bill, despite the opposition of parochial committee chairs and the external support of a civic constituency to neutralize the frantic lobbying of special interest groups and two, the president needs to make clear that the main purpose of reorganization is not to cut costs (efficiency), but to improve public administration (effectiveness).

Lee who holds a Ph.D. from Syracuse University, is a professor of governmental affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Previously, he served as a state senator as well as legislative assistant to a U.S. Congressman and is the author of Institutionalizing Congress and the Presidency: The U.S. Bureau of Efficiency, 1916–1933 and Nixon's Super-Secretaries: The Last Grand Presidential Reorganization Effort (Texas A&M University Press).

The Watergate scandal of 1973 claimed many casualties, political and otherwise. Along with many personal reputations and careers, President Richard Nixon’s bold attempt to achieve a sweeping reorganization of the domestic portion of the executive branch was also pulled into the vortex. Lee asserts that Nixon’s reorganization effort represents a significant event in the evolution of the managerial presidency and public administration, Nixon’s Super-Secretaries presents the most comprehensive historical narrative to date concerning this reorganization attempt. The author has utilized previously untapped original and primary sources to provide unprecedented detail on the inner workings, intentions, and ultimate demise of Nixon’s ambitious plan to reorganize the sprawling federal bureaucracy.
Lee’s complete Op-Ed can be found in following link.

The Titanic Centennial and James P. Delgado's "Misadventures of a Civil War Submarine"

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the infamous RMS Titanic sinking. On April 15, 1912 over 1,500 people, passengers and crew members, died tragically as the Titanic plunged to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean after colliding with an unseen iceberg.

The New York Times recently highlighted recurring interest in the site. Cruise ships still sail to the precise spot in the Atlantic where the ship went down.
The down side to these fascinating excursions? The site is becoming littered.

“It could get real crowded out there,” said James P. Delgado, director of maritime heritage at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Despite the legitimacy of wide public interest, he added, “there are some things that shouldn’t happen,” like dumping trash and leaving behind equipment.”

Delgado heads the NOAA division responsible for monitoring the Titanic site. He is also author of the forthcoming book, The Misadventures of a Civil War Submarine (Texas A&M University Press, March). In 2001 while vacationing on Panama’s Pacific coast, the maritime archaeologist came upon the hulk of a mysterious iron vessel. Locals did not know where it had come from. Some said it was the remains of a sunken Japanese “suicide” submarine from World War II. Others said it was a poison-laden “craft of death” responsible for the pearl beds decades before.
Upon investigating the hulk further, Delgado discovered it was the remains of one of the first successful deep-diving submersibles, built in 1864 by Julius H. Kroehl. The invention ultimately led to Kroehl’s demise.

Carl Jung and A Dangerous Method

In November of 2011 the movie A Dangerous Method starring Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender was released. The screenplay was adapted by Academy Award-winning writer Christopher Hampton from his 2002 stage play The Talking Cure, which was based on the 1993 non-fiction book by John Kerr, A Most Dangerous Method: the story of Jung, Freud, and Sabina Spielrein. The movie takes place in 1904 and details the deteriorating relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Carl Jung (Fassbender), a disciple of Sigmund Freud (Mortensen), is using Freudian techniques to treat Russian-Jewish psychiatric patient Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley) at Burghölzli Mental Hospital. But the deeper Jung's relationship with Spielrein grows, the further the psychiatrist and his highly respected mentor drift apart. As Jung struggles to help his patient overcome some pressing paternal issues, disturbed patient Otto Gross (Vincent Cassel) sets out to test the boundaries of the doctor's professional resolve.
-Jason Buchanan

Although the movie is a fictitious representation, the lives and studies of Freud and Jung are still continuously explored and studied today. If you are interested in Carl Jung or Jungian theory, check out the book Finding Jung: Frank N. McMillan Jr., a Life in Quest of the Lion (Texas A&M University Press, March) by Frank N. McMillan III ─ the personal story of McMillan Jr.’s life-long quest for meaning. McMillan, a country boy steeped in the traditional culture of rural Texas , began reading Carl Jung’s Collected Works upon hearing impressionist artist Forrest Bess’s description of Jung as a master psychologist, soul doctor, and healer. McMillan went on to establish the world’s first professorship to study the field of Jungian Psychology.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


From the shores of Hawaii to the coast of Texas, America’s beaches constantly serve as the recreational hubs of our vacations. Sunbathing, surfing, sand volleyball, and swimming are only a few of the activities that inch their way into our vacationing day dreams and serve as relief from the drone of the nine-to-five job. But what happens when we begin to take advantage of the beauty of the shore and let carelessness creep in? A recent article by the Texas General Land Office in Galveston’s The Daily News explains that today the composition of the trash being found on Texas beaches is no longer trash from ocean-going vessels but is instead the trash left behind by beach-goers.

The good news for beach lovers is that it is not too late to do something to protect our beaches. On January 13, 2012 at 10:00 am Adopt-A-Beach is holding a Marine Debris Summit at Moody Gardens Convention Center in Galveston. Adopt-A-Beach is an organization that strives to raise public awareness, educate citizens about the sources of debris, and to generate public support for state, national, and international action to clean up coastal waters.

“Panel discussions will be on topics such as how to reduce the trash that comes with people driving on the beach — a protected Texas tradition — as well as how to stop the rising tide of dirty diapers, among other things.” The Daily News

World-renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle, chair of the Advisory Board for Texas A&M University’s Harte Research Institute and Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society, will be the keynote speaker.
Earle has also contributed to several Texas A&M University Press books including, Coral Reefs of the Southern Gulf of Mexico and Texas Coral Reefs.

If you are interested in the Gulf Coast beaches please check out our book Sea-Level Change in the Gulf of Mexico by Richard A. Davis Jr. Sponsored by the Texas A&M University Harte Research Institute, this book is a must-read for Gulf Coast scientists, naturalists, and residents.

Kelsey Lawrence