Museum to look at S.C. silver in Civil War

The S.C. State Museum will hold a silver symposium Sunday, May 1, with an afternoon program titled “South Carolina Silver in the Civil War: Did Sherman Take it All?”

In addition to Curator of History Fritz Hamer’s reading of two February 1865 accounts of the theft of silver and jewelry in the Palmetto State by Union troops, members of the South Carolina Silver Society will speak on hidden silver in Cheraw, Charleston and Trinity.

They will also discuss how the Hampton silver escaped the fire at Millwood Plantation as Sherman’s troops laid waste to the Midlands in the waning months of the War Between the States.

It was barely five years ago that a cache of Wade Hampton silver returned to South Carolina for the first time in two generations. The collection had left the state and then the country two generations earlier with an adventuring Hampton heir.

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USS Arizona survivor dies in Florida at 91

One of the few remaining survivors from the USS Arizona, sunk on Dec. 7, 1941, with the loss of nearly 1,200 lives, died late last week at age 91.

Vernon Olsen, then just 21 years old, scrambled to his battle station atop the after mast of the Arizona that fateful Sunday morning nearly 70 years ago when Japanese planes struck.

Years later, he would tell of seeing a Japanese bomber coming  in between the ship’s masts to drop a bomb while Olsen, manning a 50-caliber machine gun, waited helplessly for ammunition.

The plane was so close that Olsen could see the Japanese pilot grinning, he said in 1998 interview with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. When the bomb exploded, it all but obliterated the ship.

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Don’t expect ‘birthers’ to wise up

There are those who, for whatever reason, genuinely believe President Barack Obama was born outside the United States, and there are those who insist he was born elsewhere for more sinister motives.

The first group likely cannot be reached no matter any amount of evidence to the contrary.

Even prior to the president’s release of his long-form birth certificate earlier this week, he’d already produced his short-form birth certificate, his birth had been reported in the local Hawaiian paper in 1961, and the director of the Hawaii department of health, a supporter of John McCain, said she had seen the original records.

The second bunch, by comparison, doesn’t really care where Obama was born, as long as they can make hay of the issue for their own gain, or that of their political party.

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Hungry termites gnaw through fortune

The staff at a bank in India have been blamed for allowing termites to eat their way through banknotes worth 10 million rupees, or $225,000.

The staff at the bank, in the state of Uttar Pradesh, are reported to have been found guilty of “laxity,” according to the BBC.

The State Bank of India says an enquiry into the latest incident has been held.

“The branch management has been found guilty of laxity due to which the notes were damaged by termites in the Fatehpur branch of Barabanki district,” State Bank of India Chief General Manager Abhay Singh told the Press Trust of India.

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P&C catches onto disturbing iFad trend

Kudos to Brian Hicks of the Charleston Post and Courier for highlighting the increasingly troublesome trend of school districts laying out scarce funds for technology that remains unproven in its ability to improve student performance.

Hicks writes that just four months after the Charleston County School Board approved issuing iPads to students in three elementary school classrooms, it has decided to expand the pilot program to two entire schools next year at a cost of $2.1 million.

This comes during a period when the district is facing a massive budget shortfall. And, as Hicks points out, when the academic value of these gadgets has yet to be proven. He adds:

Perhaps what’s most amazing is that the board’s decision was unanimous. That’s a testament to the sales job by district staff, which said iPads will accelerate the achievement of students in a material, uh, digital world.

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RBC-Heritage pairing makes little sense

It’s hardly surprising that organizers of The Heritage are refuting reports that Royal Bank of Canada is close to signing a deal to sponsor the Lowcountry golf tournament.

Earlier this month, Royal Bank of Canada was the subject of rumors when it was speculated the Toronto-based financial services giant was possibly shopping its US banking operation, composed of 420 branches in the Southeastern US.

Still, Golf World reported Monday that RBC was on the brink of an agreement with The Heritage, citing several unnamed players and sources related to Hilton Head Island’s PGA Tour event, which has been without a title sponsor for about a year and a half.

But the Hilton Head Island Packet reported Tuesday that Wilmot was refuting the report that Royal Bank was close to signing a four-year deal to sponsor the tournament.

For killing ability, nuclear pales to coal

Live Science ponders the irony of nuclear energy, so potentially dangerous yet remarkably safer than most other energy sources, particularly coal and other fossil fuels, according to columnist Christopher Wanjek.

As an example, Wanjek cites the Japanese nuclear reactor Fukushima Daiichi, damaged in the tsunami that struck the island nation last month and which continues to leak trace amounts of radiation.

Not long after the earthquake and resulting tsunami, radioactive iodine-131 made it into the water supply in Tokyo, 150 miles or so south of the damaged reactor. But most has since decayed into stable xenon, Wanjek writes.

Wanjek says that means that those individuals who evacuated Tokyo because of the threat at Fukushima likely received more radiation on the airplane flight from the Japanese capital than they would have if they had stayed at home.

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Marijuana study produces hazy results

A new study by a Lawrence Livermore scientist regarding the scope of indoor marijuana cultivation leaves one wondering just what some researchers are smoking.

The study estimates that indoor pot-growing operations in the United States burn about $5 billion worth of electricity annually, or roughly 1 percent of national power consumption, according to a story in the New York Times. That’s enough electricity to power 2 million average homes, the paper adds.

The study was completed by Evan Mills, a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Mills said the study was completed in his free time and without federal funds.

The carbon emissions from indoor pot-growing operations in California are equal to that of about 3 million cars, Mills claims.

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Innovista: where seldom is heard a sane word

Innovista’s woes have been much publicized over the past few years.

Some $135 million in public dollars have been spent on two buildings still uncompleted nearly half a decade after they were begun; the private aspect of the “public-private” partnership is dead in the water; and legislators and University of South Carolina officials are still trying to sell taxpayers a bill of goods regarding this fiscal boondoggle.

The most recent news regarding Innovista was released Sunday in yet another puff piece about USC’s research campus printed by The State newspaper under the headline “USC Makes Progress Completing Innovista Research Building.”

According to the story, USC is poised to complete the first of Innovista’s two publicly funded research buildings as the school’s Board of Trustees has approved $15.5 million for the interior work of the final three floors of the five-story Discovery I building.

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Rare 500-year-old book pops up in Utah

 A Utah book dealer got the surprise of his career recently while visiting a small museum just south of Salt Lake City.

Ken Sanders, who specializes in rare books, was attending the event as a volunteer, appraising books for museum visitors. At one point during the event, a man pulled a book out of a garbage bag, telling Sanders he had something that was very, very old, according to the Deseret News.

“According to Sanders, the man said, ‘Well this here, I got this, it’s the Nuremberg Chronicles,'” according to the publication. “Sanders exclaimed, ‘What?’ in astonishment because he knew of the book’s lofty historical reputation. ‘And sure enough,’ Sanders said, ‘lo and behold, it was!'”

The paper said that assuming the editon found in Utah is authentic, it was actually printed in 1493, barely 50 years after Gutenberg invented the movable-type printing press.

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