Monthly Archives: March 2012

‘By a waterfall.’ H2Oh! The unwanted rise here… the unwanted fall thereof the element we most take for granted and from whence we came.

Author’s program note. The first thing scientists engaged in seeking life on other planets look for is whether there is water there. For without it they know there can be no life… and no species like ours. Water, you see, is the defining element, the sine qua non without which life is not merely improbable… but impossible.

Thus for the incidental music to today’s article, I give you the mastery of that aquatic choreographer and tongue-in-cheek provocateur Busby Berkeley (1895-1976), imp, troublemaker, artiste, American original , and — above all — genius. In 1933 he put his mind of high originality to work crafting for the film “Footlight Parade” a complex geometric water ballet to the tune of “By a Waterfall,” music by Sammy Fain, lyrics by Irving Kahal.

It was designed to mesmerize, titillate, enthrall, entrance… it was cheeky, scandalous… just plain fun for those who enjoyed the beach and its unending possibilities for naughtiness — and an innocence which is now long gone from the Great Republic.

To create this undoubted masterpiece, which had “made in America” stamped all over it, the exigent Berkeley, never one to economize, demanded a 40 x 80 foot swimming pool that filled an entire sound stage. Its walls and floor were glass, and before shooting started 100 chorus girls took two weeks to practice their exacting routines in it. The actual filming lasted six days and required 20,000 gallons of water per minute to be pumped across the set.

Busby’s genius and his innovative use of not just comely young maidens but of cameras did the rest. So instead of filming numbers from set angles, like other, lesser men, he instead set his cameras into motion on custom built booms and monorails and as necessary, even cutting through the studio roof to get the right shot…for to get his great vision on film for eternity was ever his objective.

And so stars Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler found themselves “By a waterfall”. “Just a winding stream where I can drift and dream….” We have all had this experience, transformed into poetry if we were there with our beloved… It is this scenario that is at growing risk worldwide as we learn from two sobering reports just released on the subject of the future of water.

Too little water here…. too much water there.

March 22, 2012 US intelligence agencies reported that droughts, floods and a lack of fresh water may cause significant global instability and conflict in the decades dead ahead. The report makes clear that developing countries, already severely challenged, will have to scramble to meet demand from exploding populations while dealing with the effects of climate changes.

This report, reflecting the joint judgement of federal intelligence agencies, concludes that in the next decade the risk of water shortages and related issues is minimal, although they assert there will be discernible tensions between affected states thereby destabilizing national and global food markets. This phase of the matter offers important issues and challenges but not chaos. ..

… that, they conclude, begins beyond 2022. Then it begins with a vengeance. Then water becomes a weapon of war, a tool of terrorism and a vehicle for the utmost dislocation, despair, and dismay. Amidst such well founded deductions heralding Armageddon, we are as far as possible from Powell and Keeler at their enchanting waterfall, particularly in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa where the crisis has already commenced, with far, far worse foreseeable and on its way.

The report is based on a classified National Intelligence Estimate on water security which was requested by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and was concluded in the fall of 2011. Its stark conclusion: floods, scarce and poor quality water, worsened by poverty, poor leadership, and weak governments will contribute to acute instability; this in turn could lead to the failure of numerous states with massive possibilities for mischief by aggressive regimes like China and by terrorists of every kind; people adept at promising reforms they cannot deliver but which prove fertile in the minds of people who have nothing but who see every day what we in the West have… and which they want for themselves, whatever it takes to get it. Thus does the bitter brew of this witches’ cauldron heat to a boil… its toxic ingredients instability and state failure, exacerbated regional tensions, and with such distractions, the report concludes, that may prevent them from working with the Unites States and our Allies on important policy objectives, thereby further imperiling the tenuous lives of millions, each one subject to events they do not control, but which most assuredly control them.

World Water Day, March 22, 2012

At this year’s WWD event, Secretary Clinton unveiled a new US Water Partnership that aims to share American water management expertise with the rest of the world, calling the findings of the report disturbing, sobering, a call to action before no action beyond prayer will matter. Thus, the conclusion of this timely report:

“We judge that as water shortages become more acute beyond the next 10 years, water in shared basins will increasingly be used as leverage; the use of water as a weapon or to further terrorist objectives.”

But water will wend its terrible way with us in other grave matters, too…

4 million to be at flood risk, study says.

Whilst researchers and policy makers contemplate the serious matters above, others of their ilk have been at work on another aspect of the problem, this time expected flooding from rising seas fueled by global warming. Their blunt findings were published March 15, 2012 in the peer-reviewed journal “Environmental Research Letter.” This report, in the form of two scientific articles, makes alarming reading, asserting as it does projected sea level rise by the year 2100. Nearly 4 million people across the United States, from Los Angeles to much of the East Coast are in the danger zone.

The cities that have the most people living within three feet of high tide — the projected sea level rise by 2100 — are in Florida, Louisiana, and New York. Boston, Norfolk, Virginia, Charleston, South Carolina, and the capital of the Great Republic itself, Washington, D.C. will be seriously affected with catastrophic results for property and lives.

What can we do, or are we, too, simply at the mercy of events?

I believe that God helps those who help themselves… and what we can do here is plain. We must keep the feet of our leaders to the fire, reminding them of the necessity to focus on recognizing and solving these problems. The younger you are the more you must do so, understanding as soon as possible that you have power, if only you will use it.

And if each of us will claim our infinitesimal share of these monumental problems and remain dedicated to their solution, we will have won the right to these words:

“By a waterfall I’m calling you. We can share it all beneath a ceiling of blue. We’ll spend a heavenly day Here where the whispering waters play.”

Go now to any search engine and play this tune… after all, it’s your future they’re singing about.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer

The two secrets to power writing — reciting, rewriting.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

I’ve been a published writer and author for six decades now. I’ve got 18 books and thousands of articles under my belt. As a result people are constantly asking me the “secrets” of writing that resonates, captures readers and gets your message delivered. Alright, you’ve asked me quite enough… I’m ready to spill the beans…

Power writing Solution #1: Recite what you write.

When was the last time you needed to write something with real impact? Something that made your point, hammered it home, and did so in the most clear lucid way?

The correct answer is that the “last time” you did it was probably today, what with all the letters, advertisements, posters, reports, etc. you’ve got to write in your business.

Is this how you approached the task?

1) Bad attitude. You hate writing, or at least your’re doing a mighty good imitation of someone who does. Thus, you grumpily sit down at your computer, hold your nose, and resolve to race through this unwelcome task in record time.

2) The writing you produce under this “system” is just about as bad as bad writing can be. As a result it’s wordy, misspelled, redundant, diffuse… and that’;s just for openers.

3) Yuck! When you see what you’ve got, you gulp. It’s terrible, but fortunately not so terrible that other terrible writers and readers will ever notice. Declining standards shroud any number of problems…

Then take a good look in the mirror. Remember when you were young, idealistic in college, and that smarty-pants professor said you were either part of the problem… or part of the solution. Now you finally know what he meant: you can either keep producing the writing that has brought you so little fame and fortune… or you can apply Solution #1 to the problem.

To excite, recite.

When was the last time you wrote something, then read it aloud to yourself to see how it sounded and maybe to tweak it?

Answer? Well, let’s just put it this way, shall we? When was the last time you read anything you’d written aloud? Wasn’t it that time in Third Grade where you been forced by Mrs. Noroski, the personification of evil, to read a poem she coerced you to write in the first place? Thus, reciting takes its place just before having a root canal. And nothing’s going to change your mind, so there.

Methinks the lady (and the gent, too) doth protest too much.

Now hear this: you begged me for my secrets to power writing… and here’s one of the two most important. You’re just going to have move on, relegating that fiasco that constituted your one and only poetry reading to the recycle bin where it will surely find the oblivion which it so dearly merits.

The absolute necessity to read your prose… if you care that it gets read.

It’s time for brutal honesty. You write to be read, to influence, to motivate readers to take action. Reading aloud, reciting, helps you achieve this objective… and you’ll do it (stinker though it may be) because recitation means results… and improving results is what it takes to excel and prosper in our strenuous culture.

First, BIG relief item. There’s an audience of just one to these academy award winning performances: you! And unless you’re the culprit, no one need ever know that you do this whenever you want the best possible content and the best possible content presentation.

Here’s what needs to be in your kit for this project: a printer, marking pens, and a surface on which to spread this masterpiece in process. Now add gumption and you’re ready to go…

You’re looking for errors. Here are some places you’ll find them:

1) Line length. Good writers, that is to say persuasive writers know that less is more. Thus, the longer the sentence, the more likely the reader misses the point, and this will never do. If you find yourself taking another breath to get through the sentence in question, that sentence is too long. The optimum line length is 10-15 words, and you must cut sharply as a result… and so keep your readers.

2) Do the same severe pruning with your paragraphs. Short paragraphs are the best paragraphs; they should run from 6 to 8 lines.

3) Start as many sentences as possible with “you” (explicit or implicit). Whatever you write is written for just one person — the “you” who is your present reader. That person must have your complete and total focus, because if that “you” stops reading, it doesn’t matter what your message is, this all-important person isn’t going to do anything about it.

4) Use action verbs. Here’s the drill you want every reader to follow: your prose calls for action… your prose gets the reader to act. But this only happens when you take a machete to your passive verbs. They are torpid… impenetrable… movement killers. Just the way they should be and remain forever — that is if you want your prose cited in the “Guinness Book of Records” under the category “execrable”.

5) Make war on all purple passages. These you can easily spot when reading for, when uttering them you automatically start talking like the divine Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), which means in the sententious idiom of late 19th century France!

Your language should be clean, simple, efficient — you know, the way it isn’t now.

Solution # 2. Rewrite.

Wow, after scrutinizing your latest effusion per Solution #1, you’re surrounded by items that have been ruthlessly removed. What now? Simple; my next sure-fire writing insight, viz. that the most effective writers are the most conscientious rewriters. In other words, the ones who do not merely spew words on the page, but who do what’s necessary for maximum impact. This means you.

And so today, at first light, take your latest writing project and go out into the pristine dew of day to recite it. Sure your neighbors will deduce that you have finally gone mad… but the many new prospects and customers you’ll derive will leave them happy… leave you a paragon of prose… and richer.; oh, yes, a very great deal richer.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer Check out e Master Classes ->

‘Berries are nice’. The lush ripeness of strawberries and their sweet red allure.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. This is a story about a fruit so rich that once you start thinking about it you cannot rest until you are eating some… popping them into your mouth as fast as you can, crushing them… letting the richness of its sweet, sweet juice drip down your chin… glad to have all you can eat… joyfully careless about what you waste… for there will always be strawberries enough for you… you are absolutely sure of that!

But as Deana Carter knows, the lush abundance of strawberries is not unlimited… and so she twangs her tale of high summer, desire, a taste so sweet it maddens you and never satiates… producing a wine you can never get enough of… a strawberry wine… a wine that you can never forget… though sometimes you wish you’d never come to know.

And so, I have selected for today’s occasional music “Strawberry Wine” by Matraca Berg and Gary Harrison, released in August, 1996. Nashville record companies found the song overly long, controversial, and not memorable enough. But when Carter sang her heart out about the summer, the boy… the strawberries and their wine… the record won Song of the Year at the Country Music Association Awards. Go now to any search engine and listen to it. You’ll find yourself remembering… you’ll find yourself craving… you’ll want their taste again… the berries always see to that…. for they are an imperious fruit.

Her Majesty’s strawberry. On a picture perfect summer day one August I was in Scotland, in the Highlands, at Balmoral… a country castle conceived by Prince Albert, the beautiful German prince loved obsessively by Queen Victoria. For an American used to the White House with its layer after layer of security, Balmoral comes as a rather unnerving shock. “Security” consisted of a single guard, unobtrusive, reading a newspaper. There might be, there must be more… but that’s all I ever saw. He barely looked at us.. smiled… and waved. Thus does Her Britannic Majesty tell you she is beloved of the people and doesn’t need a legion of centurions to protect her… unlike the president of the Great Republic who always needs more… and more.

And so in due course, my friend and I found ourselves in the magnificent park, expansive, serene, as lovely a place as Earth provides. And in the park I found a kitchen garden… the Queen’s garden… and in this garden I saw a strawberry, huge, perfectly ripe, ready to be eaten. And so I reached down to pluck it and enjoy… whereupon I felt a strong hand pulling me up and heard my friend’s voice, no longer amiable, but commanding, imperative, stentorian: “Do not touch that strawberry…. that is the Queen’s berry!” And I realized what being a subject of the Windsors meant, whilst I was the child of revolution and lese majeste/. And so the uneaten berry remained… for the delectation of the Queen.

Even dukes get only leaves.

I was crushed but as my friend was driving I had to give way, and gracefully, too — or else.

Then I had a thought that cheered me up. Even the grandest members of the nobility couldn’t eat of the Royal fruit with impunity. They had to make do with the strawberries’ leaves. And no, I am not making this up. A duke’s coronet proves my point. When a man becomes a duke (and there are only 24 such people in the entire realm of Great Britain) he is entitled to a silver-gilt circlet called a coronet. It features eight strawberry leaves — not one more and never a single one less. Thus does the sovereign elevate ambitious members of the aristocracy… and keep her strawberries for herself.

Other gentlemen of high rank and title are also entitled to strawberry leaves on their coronets. And here there is a most curious conundrum: marquesses who rank just below dukes in the peerage of the realm are entitled to four strawberry leaves… but earls, who rank below marquesses, get eight. What can this mean? For peers, as you may imagine, are protocol mad… and scrutinize their inferiors for any indication that they are claiming rank and privilege to which they are not strictly entitled. You can be sure there’s some fiddle going on here… but if the marquesses are in a pet of high indignation, they have but to look far down at the viscounts and barons who have not a single strawberry leaf between them… and that’s just the way these marquesses mean to keep it — “Honi soit qui mal y pense.”. Strawberry leaves mean strawberry tea.

Fortunately, there is more you can do with your strawberry leaves than wait for the Queen to make you a duke. That, after all, could be a long time coming since the last non-royal duke was his grace of Westminster, in 1874. It’s true that her present majesty when a young woman offered to make Sir Winston Churchill duke of London… but he declined and there the matter rests, perhaps forever.

And you’ll agree, this situation could be more than irritating for those who every morning see in their looking glasses, not milord this or the right honorable that but… His Grace the Duke of… resplendent in ermine and strawberry leaves.

These men, well bred for hundreds of years, offer the correct aquiline features, the correct pedigree, with generations of the right fathers and acquiescing mothers, masters of every arcane procedure, the right words and impeccable cravat, these men I tell you are smoldering with rage, aggravation, frustration, worthies all marooned in the wrong time. For them, each of them only the calming propensities of strawberry leaf tea will do… poured in a fragile cup of Minton, delivered by Nannie who always knows just what to do. “Have some more sugar, ducks. There, there, it’ll be all right.”

And so does Nanny, who loves you best, goes out with wicker basket on her arm, to the places she knows well, where the fresh wild strawberries grow or the sweet woodland berries. Take 1 tablespoon of dried rose petals, 1/2 teaspoon of yarrow, 1 teaspoon of strawberry leaves, a pinch of mint or blackberry leaves. Add 1 cup of boiling water and allow to steep. Choler cannot long exist in the presence of such determined coziness.

Emily Dickinson (1830-1886).

It was perhaps in pursuit of these ingredients that Emily Dickinson, mistress of opaque language, stepped out, “Over the fence” …

“Over the fence — Strawberries — grow — Over the fence — I could climb — if I tried, I know — Berries are nice. But — if I strained my Apron — God, would certainly scold! Oh, dear, — I guess if He were a Boy — he’d — climb — if He could!”

So, let’s leave it like that, for as Deana Carter sang, “It’s funny how those memories they last. Like strawberry wine… (when) The hot July moon saw everything” and the strawberries were there, bright and beckoning, just over the fence.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer

Abraham Lincoln… captivated by words, created by words, empowered bywords, glorified by words. Reflections on his Cooper Union Speech, February 27, 1860.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. 150 years ago, March 4, 1861 Abraham Lincoln (born 1809), became 16th president of the United States. And if you do not believe in destiny, fate, or kismet, even you will wonder at the undoubted fact that at the time of its maximum peril, the Great Republic should have found the perfect man to guide her affairs and so preside not over her premature dissolution (as so many thought and even wished) but her greatest trial, from which, terrible forge though it was, emerged the greatest of nations. Oh, yes, here was the hand of God, indeed… to the wonder of all… and as we know His ways are mysterious so we shouldn’t wonder at this man and his story… a story to be told in the words he loved, the words he mastered, the words he used to effect his great purpose… the words we all have at our disposal… but which only he used with such grace and power… and such resolve… the mark of the consummate master of our language and the great uses to which it can always rise…

For this tale, I have selected as the occasional music a tune Abraham Lincoln loved and tapped his toe to, “Jimmy Crack Corn”. It’s a frolicksome number thought to be a black face minstrel song of the 1840s. Like so much that touches Lincoln, it’s not quite what it appears to be…. that is, a black slave’s lament over his master’s death… it has indeed a subtext of rejoicing over that death and possibly having caused it by deliberate negligence…. “Dat Blue Tail Fly”… It is a feeling every slave must have thought at some time… which every master must have understood and feared… and from this seemingly unsolvable conundrum Lincoln freed both, saving the people, cleansing the Great Republic.

Without benefit of formal education… yet with every necessary word to hand.

Consider the matter of Illinois, the 21st state, frontier of the Great Republic in 1818 when it was admitted to the Union. It was a land firmly focused on the bright future all were certain was coming… the better to obliterate and make bearable the rigors and unceasing travails of the present. The land was rich… the richness of the people would soon follow.

In this land of future promise, inchoate, Lincoln, like all those who delight in words, found his labors lightened and vista magnified by books, and thanks to the good and helpful work of Robert Bray (2007), we may learn just what books he possessed, and so which words he knew, by whom rendered, and how.

It is impossible to know in just what order young Lincoln found the books, read the books, and with what degree of joy and enthusiasm, for Lincoln (unlike many who love and live by words) was not a great writer of marginal commentary, in which reader engages in often enraged tete-a-tete with author. Such marginalia are cream to any biographer, but in Lincoln’s case were infrequent.

In any event, we can surmise that he learned his words first from the great King James version of The Bible, perhaps the most influential and certainly most lyric book in the language. If so, it bestowed on him not only the words but their sonority, cadence and above all, moral certainty, all of which were critical in the development of his mature style and so helped save a great nation from self-destruction. There followed first the odd volume, happily received, then a steady trickle, then the glorious days when he could have as many books, and so as many words, as he wanted; paradise to a man for whom each word, and every book, was a key to greater understanding of the cosmos… and himself…

Thus, E.A. Andrews and S. Stoddard “A Grammar of the Latin Language” (1836); Nathan Bailey “Dictionary of English Etymology” (1721); James Barclay “Dictionary” (1774); George Bancroft “History of the United States (1834); Francis Bacon “Essays” (1625); John Bunyan “The Pilgrim’s Progress” (1678); Benjamin Franklin “Autobiography” (1818); Edward Gibbon “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” (1776)…

… and one great poet after another, for as Lincoln learned, as every word smith must learn, there can be no mastery of words where there is no understanding of poets and their precise, meticulous craft… and so one finds without surprise the works of Robert Burns, Lord Byron, Thomas Gray whose “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” (1751) he so loved… with its sad beauty, lines which, once read, seem to have been written for Lincoln himself:

“The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave, Awaits alike the inevitable hour, the paths of glory lead but to the grave.”

It was a thought Lincoln knew only too well, and he had but to touch this poem to think on its powerful, unanswerable, haunting words, including these…

“Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne”… but not yet… not yet.

And so Lincoln on every day sought out the light enabling him to learn the words, all the words he needed and his work demanded…. thus was he up with day’s first light… to finish his work betimes, to snatch some minutes for the words…, then to pass the night and gain some further words by fire light and smokey tallow. Because the words would not be denied… Lincoln was not to be denied. They beckoned. He followed… until he was at last ready to begin, just to begin, his great work… the work that needed all of him… and so every word at his command.

Thus was he summoned from Springfield in Illinois to the greatest city of the Great Republic, New York, where its most renowned and anxious citizens, worthy, substantial, concerned, waited with impatience, condescension, worry and, yes, even hope to hear what a prairie lawyer named Lincoln had to say to them about the great issue of their day and how this great blot upon the Great Republic could be resolved… and their great experiment in governance be purified. And so did Abraham Lincoln rise to speak, at Cooper Union, February 27, 1860.

The most important speech since Washington’s Farewell Address (1796).

These days only specialists are knowledgeable about the Cooper Union speech… but this is wrong, for it gave the Union a new voice, a new leader, and a man fiercely dedicated to the preservation and triumph of the Constitution. Without Cooper Union Lincoln would never have been nominated in 1860, so never would have served, and could not have brought his signal talents to bear on saving the Great Republic. And thus the greatest experiment in human history and affairs might well have come to naught, to the impoverishment and despair of our species.

But Cooper Union did happen… and with every word the nation knew it had found not merely a good and honest man, but a savior… a man fiercely dedicated to truth… fiercely dedicated to working together with even obdurate men who hated and outraged each other… fiercely determined to find the formula to protect and defend the Union… And so he was fierce in his moderation… fierce in his implacable opposition to anyone threatening the great federal Union… fierce in asking all good citizens to step forward and work for the greater good… And such was the power of his fierce message of what must be done, such was the excellence, clarity and reasonableness of his words, that this audience of the great thrilled and cheered him to the very echo.

This single man whose ambition was defined (according to his law partner William H. Herndon) as “a little engine that knew no rest”, was now in place for the uttermost struggle, a struggle for common sense, common purpose, common decency and the validation and acknowledgement of all. He was ready… for he had the ideas, the fortitude, the moral certainty… and, above all, the words he needed, the words that saved the Great Republic and remind us still of what is possible when we have a leader who summons the “better angels of our nature.”

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer

‘Look away Dixie Land!’ The day that determined the outcome of the U.S. Civil War. The Battle of Hampton Roads, March 9, 1862. And you are there….

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. The American Civil War began April 12, 1861 with the firing of the rebel forces on Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. It officially ended on April 9, 1865 when General Robert E. Lee surrendered his army at Appomattox Court House. In between, 212,938 people from both sides were killed in action, with total casualties exceeding 625,000 in what was the most bloody war ever fought on this planet… and the most embittered, as is always the case when brothers fight each other to the death, enraged, grieving, broken hearted but determined to have victory, whatever the cost…

This war was filled with incident, great deeds of valor, deeds, too, of squalor, treachery, unmitigated cruelty… and chivalry… but of all the deeds in this great struggle, the deeds of just a handful of men determined the outcome. These were the men who fought each other at the Battle of Hampton Roads, Virginia March 8-9, 1862. And I am taking you there today… for you will want to know who won, who lost, and why it happened the way it did.

For the incidental music to this article, I have selected Daniel Decatur Emmett’s famous tune, “Dixie,” also known as “I Wish I Was in Dixie,” a song originating in the black face minstrelsy of the 1850s. It is a tune that makes even the least likely ready to jump up and whirl. I have selected it today because, as Abraham Lincoln himself said on April 10, 1865, it’s “one of the best tunes I ever heard” … but also because of its famous line, “Look away, Dixie Land.” After the Battle of Hampton Roads, Virginia and all the other Confederate states had nothing to look forward to… and everything to look away from.

But it didn’t look that way on March 8, 1862… quite the contrary.

News of the most alarming portent arrives in Washington, D.C., Sunday, March 9, 1862.

Gideon Wells, a New England journalist, found himself urgently summoned to the White House. Come! Come at once! And this Connecticut Yankee, in his unlikely role as Secretary of the Navy, scurried to a meeting where he found Mr. Edwin Stanton, Secretary of War, in the greatest possible dismay… and so alarmed himself that he was alarming, too, the President of the Dis-united States of America.

It was a scene to brighten every heart in Dixie… and cause shrewd financiers to sell U.S. Treasury bonds short before Wall Street opened Monday, to chaos and defeatism.

Mr. Stanton could not keep still, could not hide his profound anxiety and fear. He sat down, only to jump up again and rush to the windows… What was he looking for? A savior for the Union cause… What did he expect to see? The CSS Virginia in all her glory steaming up the Potomac, sinking the Federal cause with effortless grace. It was a scene of destiny, and every man on both sides of the struggle knew that history of the gravest magnitude was happening now! To them! At Hampton Roads! And so depending on their point of view and allegiance they either gave way to unbridled joy… or profound despair and lamentation. No one was neutral on this urgent matter.

USS Merrimac into CSS Virginia.

The largest naval installation of the Great Republic was at Norfolk in Virginia… and so after the Old Dominion seceded (April 24, 1861) it became a matter of the greatest urgency to both sides to arrange matters there to their greatest advantage. This to the Federal forces meant moving as much as could be moved, destroying the rest. And, to the rebels, to do just the reverse.

Thus was the USS Merrimac, unable to be removed in time and against the rebel sentiments of her crew, burnt and sunk… but not effectively. Her new owners quickly discovered both hull and engines were serviceable… and so began her transformation into the CSS Virginia, the vessel which made Secretary Stanton quail with acute fear and humiliating anxiety.


Because CSS Virginia, for all that she had just weeks ago been scuttled, was transformed into the mightiest ship of all the navies of all the seas… a ship sheathed in iron, designed to deal death to the picturesque, now ineffectual sailing ships of every navy, but without suffering a single nick at all. Thus did the dead Merrimac come to be the super weapon the Confederacy needed to pulverize the Union and secure their freedom from the meddling, inept Yankees they despised.

Confederate triumph March 8, 1862.

The world changed this day… as the Virginia, with the merest motion, rammed the hapless USS Cumberland, 121 seamen going down with her… then the USS Congress was put out of action, surrendering… and everyone, from the merest cabin boy, saw the future… and knew that every gallant wooden vessel, yesterday puissant, was now dross. And so, as cat to mouse, Virginia moved to her next sure triumph, USS Minnesota… while every telegrapher sent on the news, the news that so discomfited Secretary Stanton… and every other brave Union heart. Armageddon was here… and it flew a Confederate flag.


In August, 1861 Gideon Wells authorized work on a top-secret Union ironclad… and in due course the USS Monitor was born, the most radical naval design ever; the invention of Swedish engineer and inventor John Ericsson. And it was this curious, much mocked vessel that steamed into Hampton Roads March 9, just in time, to reverse what but yesterday had seemed certain, Southern command of the seas and therefore victory.

And as Monitor and Virginia battled each other to a draw, each unable to finish its deft opponent, the entire strategic scene changed. All wooden ships, every single one, was now obsolete; thus a new arms race started for command of the seas. USS Monitor had, simply by maneuvering to a draw, stopped the South’s “certain” advance and commenced a war of bloody attrition, a war the North could win, and the South had most reason to fear. For without access to the world, the South could only rely on itself… and that would never be enough to ensure independence as every Southern family would, in tragic due course, come to understand only too well. As for both the historic ships of this engagement, neither sailed for long. Virginia was burnt again and sunk when Union forces took back the Norfolk port facilities in May. As for the plucky Monitor, she sank December 31,1862 off North Carolina. The remains of one of her stricken crew, 24-year-old James Fenwick, were just recently brought to the surface for honorable burial. He had been married just a few weeks before Monitor embarked on her final voyage; her history short but epochal.

“Old times they are not forgotten; Look away! Look away! Look away! Dixie Land.”

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today. Republished with author’s permission by Daniel Fischer Check out Painless Traffic ->

Social Metrics Pro Uses Little Details that Matter Much

One of the main reasons why so many search engine optimizers are speaking favorably about Social Metrics Pro is that it addresses the most current way in which websites are optimized, i.e. through assessing the social networking performance of the websites. This tool, simply put, analyzes how a website is received on social platforms, such as likes on Facebook, tweets on Twitter, +1s on Google Plus and so on. It also checks the performance of content on syndicated websites such as StumbleUpon and Digg.

The principle is quite concise—if your website is performing well on these social networking places, then it means that it is more in demand. Google and Bing, to name just two search engines, have recently started using these social signals as a means to judge the relevance of online content.

In many little and big ways, Social Metrics Pro helps the webmaster to get a true picture of the relevance of the website. A lot has been said about the color coding method that Social Metrics Pro uses. Content is divided through a system of color codes, where green shows the more popular content and red shows the less popular one.

Apart from this, there are many other ways in which Social Metrics Pro proves to be a useful tool to the SEO expert. It is accessible through the dashboard on the WordPress admin page itself. It works for all WordPress blogs above version 3.2. There are simple options provided by which you can modify your experience with the assessment tool. For instance, you can choose to filter options according to categories and dates. You can choose to analyze data by using sorting and searching options that are provided with the plugin. You can also set a data refresh frequency that suits your needs, which means that you have the most current stats of your website’s online performance whenever you choose to analyze it.

Social Metrics Pro also allows transferability of its content to spreadsheets in .xls and .csv formats. You can analyze your data through Microsoft Excel or even when you are on the move through your handheld device. This helps you to constantly keep tinkering with the data on your website until all your reds turn into greens.

The best thing about Social Metrics Pro is that it tells you exactly which of your website content is performing well and which isn’t. This helps you to improve the social signals of your website, which helps it rank better.

Plugin Launched to Tap Google’s Ranking via Social Signals

Online marketers have commenced leveraging social signals, the newest parameter that search engines like Google and Bing have admitted to using to rank social websites. Social Metrics Pro is one of the plugins that was announced this week.

In order to gain the best leverage out of Google’s recently announced ranking system using social signals, a new plugin known as Social Metrics Pro has been launched. This plugin is compatible with the WordPress platform and is available in a downloadable format.

For the uninitiated, Google announced about a month ago that it has started using feeds from social networking portals to rank the popularity of websites. With the advent of Web 2.0, people have become more actively participating in the working of the Internet rather than merely browsing it. Google feels that the number of comments and shares that website content receives through social networking websites is the right parameter to judge its popularity. Always one to be the pioneer, the Google search engine has used these feeds as the new ranking factors.

Among the social networking platforms that Google has targeted are included Twitter and Facebook. Every tweet made through Twitter and every like through Facebook is now a yardstick along which Google measures the popularity of websites.

Social Metrics Pro helps online entrepreneurs as it gives a true picture of the social popularity of online content. It uses a simple color coding system to illustrate this popularity. Content that is more popular is coded green while the one that needs attention is coded red. With this color coding system, it becomes easier for the marketer to convert the reds to greens, which means they can propel the viability of their content across online social networks.

Currently, Social Metrics Pro is capable of measuring Facebook Likes, Twitter Tweets, Google Plus +1s and several other social signals such as those from StumbleUpon and Digg. The plugin is being developed further so as to be able to measure social signals from other social networks as well.

Daniel Tan, a developer of Social Metrics Pro, says, “With Google’s newest announcement, there has been a lot of activity in the world of search engine optimization. Backlinking has now become passé; and marketers are looking at how to improve the visibility of their content on social networking websites. We purport to make this task easier for the online marketer with Social Metrics Pro.”

Is Social Metrics Pro the Best Social Signal Tracking and Monitoring Tool?

With the trends of social optimization changing at every drop of the hat, optimizers have been facing a difficult time trying to keep up. Link-building and creating backlinks—two methods that are being currently used for SEO—have suddenly become obsolete. This is because of the recent announcement made by popular search engine websites like Google and Bing that they have begun using social signals to rank the popularity of websites. Though the new announcement puts most search engine optimizers in a tizzy, as they would have to change their methods, the tool we are reviewing today is a step in the right direction. Social Metrics Pro is the newest search engine optimization tool on the market that works on the principle of Google and Bing’s newest policy of ranking websites. It helps optimizers keep track of the progress of their websites on social networks. It is compatible with some of the most popular social networks already. It can assess feeds from Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg and several others are in the pipeline.

The purpose of Social Metrics Pro is to give the user a clear picture of how the website is faring on the social network. Each time someone comments, likes or shares some content, it is recorded by Social Metrics Pro. The optimizer can keep track of this and keep making improvements to the websites so as to make them more appealing on the social network.

Social Metrics Pro is a new-fangled tool but it still makes things easy for the newbie optimizer. It has a simple color coding output system. The content on the website that has poor social signals are displayed in red, while the content that fares well is displayed in green. This literally gives a clear picture to the social optimizer, whose primary task is to convert all the reds into greens.

Currently, Social Metrics Pro is available as a simple downloadable plugin that works on most browsers. It is designed for the WordPress blogosphere.

For the modern optimizer, it becomes important to stay in tune with the website’s performance on the social network. Social Metrics Pro does just that, through a simple visual representation. It does not need the optimizer to work with difficult links, tags or codes.

How do I keep track of the social popularity of my website?

When social signals started being used by search engines such as Google and Bing for ranking popularity of websites, one common question was heard throughout the blogosphere, “How do I keep track of the online popularity of my website?” Now, a concrete answer has arrived to that question, in the form of the product known as Social Metrics Pro.

The best part of using Social Metrics Pro is its simplicity. This is what makes it possible for even the most amateur online marketer to use this tool and harness its potential to gauge the online popularity of their website.

Social Metrics Pro is driven by a dashboard that keeps track of the social status of the content on the website. The dashboard is simplified with a system of color coding. Different colors indicate the relative popularity of the posts. Reds indicate posts that are performing poorly on the social networks, while greens indicate posts that are performing well on the social networks. As the poor performing posts are worked upon, the reds turn into greens, which is a direct measure of the improvement of the social signals of the website.

Social Metrics Pro also allows the optimizer to directly transfer the output into a Microsoft Excel file. This can be used to further analyze the performance of the website. These files are viewable on all spreadsheet processors.

The best part of Social Metrics Pro is that it is available as a plugin. Once installed, it sits pretty on the taskbar of the browser, until it is called upon to perform its analysis. The plugin works for any blog that has been created on WordPress, upwards of WordPress 3.2 version. Its access is also available through the admin dashboard of WordPress as well.

There are small features that help the newbie optimizer immensely. For instance, the webmaster can choose to refresh their data. The frequency can be preset, which helps to give an updated version of the social networking status of the blog at any required time. The plugin begins performing as soon as it has been downloaded and installed. Once installed, the plugin keeps on updating itself. There are free lifetime updates provided with the plugin, and a dedicated technical support team helps people with any issues that they might have.

Google Confirms Using Social Signals to Rank Websites

Google’s recent revelation that it uses social signals to rank websites has caused drastic aftershocks in the online community. Networkers are busy changing their strategies to meet with the newest ranking factor developed by the head honchos at Google.

Search engine Google recently came out into the open with the newest parameter it uses to rank websites. Dubbed as social signals, this new method of website ranking has added to the growing importance of the world of social networking and marketing. This system of ranking will see Google use information from social networking portals such as Facebook and Twitter to assess the rank of websites.

‘Social signals’ is a collective name accorded to methods used by social networking websites to gauge online popularity. These include Facebook’s Likes, Twitter’s Retweets and Google’s Plus’ +1s. Among these, a definite leverage is commanded by Twitter’s Retweets, which are being considered as the most emphatic method right now to build links. Twitter allows its content to be retweeted a number of times, which adds up the social signals it sends. Google reveals that it uses such social signals to rank websites on its search pages.

Google justifies its position by stating that social signals are the most accurate measure of a website’s popularity. Social signals originate from users who genuinely like what they see and want to share it with their circle of people. Google uses this viral marketing strategy to constantly rank websites so that it can offer the most popular content to its users.

This revelation from the world’s biggest search engine has the search engine optimizers in a tizzy. Over the last year, backlinks had turned out to be the most popular modus operandi of marketers to optimize their websites. However, with the advent of social signals, backlinking has taken a backseat. Online marketers are rapidly employing new methods to improve their websites from the social networking point of view.

Plugins are being developed to measure the social signals accumulated by websites. Such plugins gather data from popular social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Digg, StumbleUpon and others to get a dynamic measure of the popularity of websites. Plugins such as Social Metrics Pro are compatible with specific blog platforms such as WordPress, and use methods such as color coding to differentiate the more popular content from the less popular one.

However, while some online marketers are busy changing their tactics to fit into Google’s new groove, there are a few who are unruffled. They hold the view that this is just another of Google’s ever-changing policies, which will not affect the world of SEO much. At the same time, there are others who are playing it safe and focusing on both backlinking as well as social signals to bring their websites to the top of the heap.