CFCs And Ozone

Do you remember the good news about the atmosphere that was released last month? I caught the news in my daily headline feed from NASA September 10th. The mainstream news dropped it into newscasts around the first of this month.Ozone-compositeimage

300 top scientists agree that the Earth’s ozone layer is in the early stages of recovery. Full restoration is expected by around 2050. This first glimmer of good news is published by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in the latest comprehensive update.

Most of the credit goes to the worldwide phase-out of ozone depleting substances, especially a family of Freon-type gases called chloroflourocarbons or CFCs. As long as we continue to comply with the Montreal Protocol (treaty) of 1987, the ozone layer is expected to recover to 1980 levels. This is expected to happen before mid-century in the Arctic and middle-latitudes. Recovery in the Antarctic Zone will probably happen a few years later.

Looking back to the mid and late 1980s, space meteorologists, and environmental scientists stated that ozone-depleting substances Ozone-depletionpumped around 10-gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent eemissions into the atmosphere every year. Between then and now, compliance with the Montreal Protocol has dropped the volume of those pollutants by over 90-percent.

Of greatest concern has been the annual fluctuations in the Antarctic ozone hole in the lower Stratosphere. UNEP says that ozone depletion is a major contributor to the cooling of the lower portion of the Stratosphere and has caused a change in the surface air circulation patterns during the Southern Hemisphere’s summers. These changes affect precipitation, ground temperature, and the oceans.

Many of us have been seriously thinking about the ozone layer in the Earth’s atmosphere since the Autumn of 1986. British scientists observed the thinning of the ozone above Antarctica. This phenomenon was then confirmed by US researchers stationed at Antarctica. The scientists called the thinning a “hole” that had appeared within a couple of months. The scientists and researchers released the news to the public via a National Science Foundation press conference in Washington D.C. on October 21, 1986.

They were concerned over the ozone decrease of 40-percent within one month’s time. The teams linked the ozone loss to our use of cholorofluorocarbons in aerosol cans, refrigeration, and industry. The first link of CFCs to ozone layer loss happened in 1974. Two California scientists discovered the chlorine that is released from CFCs destroys ozone molecules.

The enlarging and shrinking of the ozone hole is a seasonal occurrence at around this time each year in the Southern Hemisphere. The greater size of the hole has been getting worse during the last few decades. Dr. Sherwood Rowland stated that a yearly increase in chlorine-compounds in the atmosphere corresponds to the drop in ozone over Antarctica.Ozone-diagram

We have cause for worry, because the ozone layer is the main barrier to protect life on Earth from hazardous amounts of Solar ultraviolet radiation. Increased UV sunlight has been shown to harm plants and marine life, it also causes more cases of skin cancer. CFCs are also another greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change. Some experts say that the fluctuations over Antarctica might be nature’s way of warning mankind.

Meantime, there remains the vast problem of global climate change and our part in its alleviation. We all have our work cut out for us.

Ciao
Ozone-iconThe Blue Jay of Happiness has a Carl Sagan quotation, today.  “The hole in the ozone layer is a kind of skywriting. At first it seemed to spell out our continuing complacency before a witch’s brew of deadly perils. But perhaps it really tells of a newfound talent to work together to protect the global environment.”

Posted in Controversy, cultural highlights, Environment, Health, History, Politics, Science, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Calico Jack And Company

CalicoJack-01
If we ever attain fame or infamy, it’s due to the company we keep. This truism certainly applies to John Rackham, more popularly known as the English pirate “Calico Jack”. Calico Jack wasn’t nearly as notorious as his mentor Charles Vane, or more infamous characters like Edward Low, Black Bart Roberts, or Blackbeard.

His short career is more notable because of his outrageous bravery and daring, not his pirating skills. Most of us recognize his main CalicoJack-03contribution to popular culture, the “Jolly Roger”, a black banner with the printed skull above two crossed swords.

Calico Jack is infamous because of two other characters of ill-repute. History’s most noteworthy female pirates served under his captaincy, Mary Read and Anne Bonny. All three were active during the “golden age” of pirates, the mid 1600s until the early 1700s.

Most pirate historians say that Jack “Calico Jack” Rackham, was born just after Christmas in 1682, somewhere in England. His name is first seen in the record book as quartermaster on Charles Vane’s sloop the Ranger. Vane’s crew operated out of New Providence, Bahamas at the time of the so-called “Pirates’ Republic”.

According to legend, Mary Read was born about 1690 to a sea captain’s widow. Mary’s mother dressed the girl in boy’s clothing so she would “pass” as her deceased older brother, in order to get payment from the paternal grandmother. Mary enjoyed the lifestyles of boyhood and masculinity, and eventually found work as a sailor.

She was fighting for the English against Holland when she met a Flemish soldier. She revealed her secret to him and they married. After her husband passed away, Mary signed on to work on a trading ship to the Caribbean. As the ship neared the West Indies, the ship was attacked and commandeered by pirates. She decided to join the criminal gang.

After living the lifestyle of a pirate for many years, she accepted the King’s pardon in 1718. She then began an association aboard a privateer that was commissioned to capture the pirates who had not accepted the pardon. The crew mutinied and took over. A couple of years later, she became a crew member aboard Calico Jack’s ship. There, she met Anne Bonny.

Anne Bonny is said to have been born near Cork, Ireland in the early 1700s after a scandalous love affair. The three came to America to escape local notoriety. As a young teen in Charleston, South Carolina, Anne fell in love with a poor sailor, James Bonny. The disappointed father disowned her and disinherited the couple. The couple set up home in New Providence, Bahamas. James Bonny began turning in pirates for bounties.

Legend says Anne lost respect for her husband because he was a bounty-hunter. She left her husband and began a loose promiscuous life in Nassau, Bahamas. Around 1719, she met and fell in love with CalicoJack-02Calico Jack. It was shortly after Jack had mutinied against the cruel Captain Charles Vane and took over command of the ship. Anne turned out to be a good match for Jack. She preferred to dress like a man and swear like a sailor.

Various legends differ on details, but it appears that the two women felt a strong attraction to each other. Apparently they met in a tavern while both were preparing to ship out to sea with Calico Jack. Rumor has it, that the two became lovers.  The two women may have had Calico Jack’s blessing, or more controversially, his participation. Of course, none of these tales have been historically verified. Bonny and Read turned  out to be two of Calico Jack’s most violent gang members.

In the summer of 1720, Bonny, Read, and Calico Jack returned to piracy, after their hiatus. The trio and several unhappy ex-pirates hijacked a ship and sailed out of Nassau harbor at night. The next three months, they attacked poorly armed merchant ships and fishermen near Jamaica. The band of pirates gained infamy for their ruthlessness. The two women were especially feared because they were more aggressive than their male shipmates. In fact, Bonny and Read urged the gang into more gruesome acts of violence and murder.CalicoJack-04

On October 20, 1720, Calico Jack and crew were anchored at Bry Harbour Bay, Jamaica. They were in the process of getting drunk with eleven other English pirates. The bounty-hunter,  Jonathon Barnet, spotted Jack’s ship, attacked it, and engaged in a fight. Again, according to legend, most of the male crew members hid below decks while Bonny, Read, and Calico Jack fought the bounty-hunters. Jack’s ship lost, the gang was captured and taken to Spanish Town, Jamaica for their trials.

The trials were a public sensation. During the kangaroo court that followed, Calico Jack and the other men were found guilty of piracy. Jack and four other mates were hanged at Gallows Point at Port Royal, Jamaica on November 18, 1720. Legend again says that just prior to his death, Anne Bonny scolded Calico Jack,  saying, “I’m sorry to see you here, but if you had fought like a man, you needn’t have hanged like a dog.”

Mary Read and Anne Bonny were declared guilty on November 28th. Both women declared they were pregnant, so their executions were postponed. Read became ill while in prison and died in April of 1721.

The demise of Anne Bonny has many versions, and none of them have been verified. The most popular one says that she was reprieved then remarried at Port Royal and gave birth to several children. The legends of Anne Bonny and, to a lesser extent, that of Mary Read gave pause to the repressed young ladies of Edwardian and Victorian England.

In the end, we have the stories of the aggressive female pirates, the name of Calico Jack, and the Jolly Roger banner as a part of our popular culture.

Ciao
mini-moiThe Blue Jay of Happiness likes “pirate talk”. His vacation time is called “arrrrr ‘n arrrrr”.

Posted in cultural highlights, History | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Psychopath Whisperer (Review)

Normally, I would have passed the book by with barely any acknowledgement of it. During my regular visit to the Norfolk  (Nebraska) Public Library, the yellow spine of the book caught my eye. With curious trepidation, I slipped The Psychopath Whisperer–The Science Of Those Without Conscience by Kent A. Kiehl, Ph.D. off the shelf. I flipped through a couple of pages, at random, then decided to borrow it.PsychopathWhisperer-01

I haven’t taken much of an interest in psychopathic individuals, aside from news reports of horrific crimes and sensationalized movies. Basically, the subject of psychopathy sort of creeps me out. A new friend, though, piqued my interest this year, because she knows a great deal about the subject.

Stereotypes of psychopaths appear in popular culture in the form of an anti-hero or villain in a thriller or murder mystery. We may be presented a larger than life serial killer, con artist, or corporate executive. Even though there might be some overlap between Hollywood depictions of psychopaths and real-life individuals, psychopathy is much more complex than we’ve been led to believe.

Dr. Kiehl presents his own experience and peer-reviewed research into the subject of psychopathic individuals. The text is fast-paced and filled with personal asides that draw the reader into Kiehl’s groundbreaking scientific findings.

Honestly, I had imagined the book would be a dryly written tome that I’d have to plod through. I figured I’d be lucky to get even halfway through it. That notion was quickly put to rest after I slipped into the first chapter.

In Chapter 1, “Maximum Security”, the author describes his first four days as a freshman undergraduate, undertaking his first interviews of inmates at a maximum security prison in British Columbia. The reader is given a glimpse of what Kiehl went through and how he felt. The author ran through a mental gauntlet as he became oriented into the surroundings at the facility at Abbotsville, 60-miles away from Vancouver.

The inmate interview stories are personal and mostly free of technical jargon. His contacts during the first four days revealed much of the prisoners’ backgrounds and criminal histories. As you can imagine, the stories are quite compelling. I enjoyed the opening chapter of the book immensely and I knew that it was only the appetizer for what was to come.

Psychopath Whisperer is one of the better non-fiction books I’ve come across this year. The book is written in lay-friendly language. The story reveals the behind the scenes activity involved in the work of an accomplished and energetic scientist. The backbone of the story is that of how fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) came to be used to diagnose psychopathy.

We find out about the criminal backgrounds of dangerous, convicted felons. Their stories dominate the case histories, because prison inmates are more readily available and cooperative than are people, at large, in normal life settings. In the telling, Dr. Kiehl presents us with a memoir regarding his own career.

PsychopathWhisperer-02As of the book’s publication, Kent Kiehl, Ph.D is a professor of Psychology, Neuroscience and Law at the University of New Mexico. He has authored over 100 scientific articles that have been printed in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Kent also serves as the Executive Science Officer of the Mind Research Network. That organization continues to research the utilization of fMRI to better understand mental illness.

Psychopath Whisperer explains some of what causes a mind to become criminal. The reader will find comparisons and contrasts with epilepsy, psychosis, and schizophrenia. We get a peek into the biological basis of psychopathy. The author presents diagrams of the brain and where the brain variants appear. I was rather disappointed that a key to the parts of the brain was not printed in the book. I had to extrapolate and approximate, where the text indicated abnormalities to be. I don’t think many of us laypersons are familiar with the Korbinian Brodmann labeling system. The lack presented a distraction for this reader.

The case for our awareness of the serious nature of psychopathic behavior is presented early in the book. Dr. Kiehl reminds us that a psychopath is born into the world every 47 seconds. Some types of group therapy apparently make psychopaths more likely to commit new crimes compared to those who receive no treatment. Psychopaths are six times likelier to commit more crimes after release from prison.

Psychopath Whisperer presents portrayals of psychopathic individuals with an understandable explanation of the cutting-edge research and technology used to diagnose the mental condition. Dr. Kiehl hopes to discover symptoms of the disorder in adolescents in an effort to alleviate destructive behavior before the kids mature into adulthood.

This book is a good introduction for the layman, who is interested in the topic of psychopathy. I feel like I have been given some much needed insight about the condition. I think that if I was much younger, I’d be motivated to investigate this field as a serious career option. Anyone who wishes to move beyond talk show and pop-psychology presentations of psychopathy, will find Psychopath Whisperer to be a helpful resource.

{ Psychopath Whisperer–The Science Of Those Without Conscience by Kent A. Kiehl, Ph.D.; published in 2014 by Crown, a division of Random House; ISBN: 978-0-7704-3584-4 }

Ciao
moi1988bThe Blue Jay of Happiness found a chilling quote by an anonymous psychopath. “Never let the other person take you for granted. Use absence, create pain, and conflict to keep the seduced on tenterhooks.”

Posted in Books, Controversy, Health, Science, Youth | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Sweetest Day

SweetestDay-01
At first glance, the Sweetest Day appears to be the brainchild of a company like Russell Stover Candies or Hershey Chocolate. The connection to the first ever Sweetest Day by a candy company, though, is only tenuous.

The Sweetest Day is one of those Midwestern US holidays that has yet to take a national or global hold. The roots of the Sweetest Day are found in Cleveland, Ohio. One Saturday in October, 1921, a candy shop employee, Herbert Birch Kingston distributed some small packages of gifts and candy to people who had fallen on difficult times.

Kingston was particularly concerned about orphans and shut-ins. His idea was simply the humanitarian desire to brighten their day with a small token. He did not seek any publicity.  With the help of some friends, Kingston distributed the gifts to the underprivileged of Cleveland.

The next year, the Sweetest Day became widely promoted. A committee of twelve candymakers, headed by entrepreneur C.C. Hartzell planned a more aggressive approach. The commemoration became blatantly commercial.

SweetestDay-04

Ann Pennington

Movie actress, Ann Pennington, who had starred in many popular films of the era, decided to express gratitude to 2,200 newspaper boys for their service to the public. Not to be outdone, another actress, Theda Bara, later gave away some 10,000 boxes of candy to Cleveland hospital patients and to her fans who attended a screening at one of the city’s
theaters.

Promoters in other cities eventually caught wind of the idea and tried their own events. An association of candy manufacturers attempted a national candy day in 1927. The “New York Times” reported that the week, beginning on October 10, 1927, would be called the “Sweetest Week”. Ten years later, the National Confectioners Association promoted the idea to have the Sweetest Day recognized with the same ranking as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day.SweetestDay-02

In 1940, over 10,000 boxes of sweets were distributed by the Sweetest Day Committee to local charities. They included the “Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children”. The “Big Sister” groups in New York were also targeted.

As the Sweetest Day moved westward, other candymakers hopped onto the bandwagon. Sander’s Candy of Michigan became a major supporter of the holiday. In addition, a romantic theme evolved. The concept expanded to include gift giving to lovers, friends, and family. The promotion now features heart-shaped boxes and greeting cards designed for the locations that the Sweetest Day is most popular.

SweetestDay-03Because the Sweetest Day was co-opted by retailers, many people criticize the holiday and others like it, as so-called “Hallmark Holidays”. Others ignore the commercial implications and celebrate the day in the same spirit as Herbert Kingston envisioned it.

This is a perfect day to remember shut-ins, needy families, children, and other disadvantaged people. We don’t need to limit ourselves to candy and cards. Today is a good day to perform some random acts of kindness.

Ciao
mini-moiThe Blue Jay of Happiness likes this Mark Twain saying:  “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear, and the blind can see.”

Posted in cultural highlights, History, Youth | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Subjects …Floral Friday

We usually have some sort of theme in mind when creating some sort of artistry or personal expression. In fact, a theme or motif is often the

Images are clickable.

Images are clickable.

motivation for our work or play. Three subjects came to mind for today’s post.

A thrift store find triggered the mood for this topic. A  charming salt-cellar designed for Teleflora, reminded me of some happy times I spent in the Netherlands. The Dutch windmill applique’ immediately brings to mind the floral culture of the low countries. Risking cliché, I used a trio of tulips as the focus of the design.

FF101714cThe subject of seafaring is one that has fascinated people for centuries. Ocean trade has enabled the blending of civilizations since pre-history and remains vital to this day.  I used A miniature clipper ship and small seashells as the backdrop for a colonial era Indian brass jardinière. A simple, rust-colored Gerbera is all that is necessary to bring the ensemble to life.

FF101714g

A sparkling crystal vase presented an initial challenge. The gold trim is worn away in many places, and I didn’t want to restore it. Instantly, I thought of Hallowe’en. The well-worn artifact reminded me of the old Addams Family teevee show. I half-filled the vase with light pink, glass marbles to serve as the mechanicals. Gold color spray paint accents the twigs. The twigs and a commercial highlight provide a structure for the spooky-looking orange flowers. The result is twisted elegance.

What subject do you want to become lost in, today?

Ciao
mini-moiThe Blue Jay of Happiness remembers this thought from Pablo Picasso: “If there were only one truth, you couldn’t paint a hundred canvases on the same theme.”

Posted in art, Floral Arts, Vintage Collectables | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The End Of Absence (Review)

I slid the book out of the shelf at the Norfolk (Nebraska) Public Library Absence-01and immediately felt a connection. I had a feeling that The End Of Absence–Reclaiming What We’ve Lost In A World Of Constant Connection by Michael Harris would validate some of my own opinions about the Internet. The book simply had to come home with me.

The Canadian born journalist and radio personality, who recently worked for “Vancouver” magazine, specializes in writing about the social aspects of technology and about civil liberties. His essays have appeared in several publications and anthologies. Harris lives in Toronto with his partner, Kenny Park, a graphic artist.

Harris realized he was spending more time managing content and less time actually creating it. He became alarmed at how much time he spent checking his emails, texting, updating social media, and using his mobile phone. He backed away from the deluge in order to rediscover an aspect of life that is quickly going away, life before the Internet.

The first chapter confirmed my feeling that Harris and I might be on “the same page”. Neither of us are Luddites. We appreciate and use technology along with the Web, much to our advantage. We both think that a very important aspect of life is being lost because of our increasing interaction with communication technologies. Without being mawkish, we both fondly remember the times before we were connected to the Web.

We both wonder about the price we pay for our plugged-in lives. What about the global generation who has no idea what life was like before the Web? Harris, like me, remembers when we spent more of our downtime, daydreaming, thinking, pondering, and appreciating the “real world” around us. Once in awhile, we still stop and analyze the differences between then and now.

Harris writes about his belief that society is going through a dystopian phase that is gripping our awareness. We seem to be drunk on knowledge and the constant acquisition of it. As a whole, we’re failing to acquire wisdom, while grasping at constant information updates. Hopefully, we’ll outgrow this phase soon and become more thoughtful, intelligent users of new media.

Equally troubling, is the fact that we are always available.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to get away from civilization. We’re a hyper-connected society. It’s hard to get away from other people and develop our own, personal, sense of self anymore. We’re increasingly merging with group-think. We are becoming fearful of disconnecting, so we rush back to our devices for the superficial comfort of connectivity.

Harris does not advocate the total abstinence from connectivity, his idea is more about being fully conscious in our choices of when and how much media we utilize. Mindful utilization and moderation of Web use Michael Harrishelps us to become more responsible, aware human beings. Harris illustrates this concept by personal example.

He performed an experiment of weaning himself away from the Web. After Harris’ withdrawal symptoms subsided, he became the “best boyfriend ever” to his boyfriend. After Harris went back online, he over-indulged in media and became the “worst boyfriend” ever. Unbalance came back into play.

I liked reading about Harris’ hiatus from online activity. For awhile, he didn’t indulge in social media, Google searches, mobile phone, or the Web, at all. He had his friends, family, and associates leave messages on his telephone. Harris finally got around to reading his paper and ink copy of War And Peace.

The End Of Absence is not a critical screed, attacking modernity. It’s more of a memoir and a reminder.  Connectivity is a good thing that can add value to life. The book is a cautionary piece that reminds us of problems like cyber-bullying, role-playing games that substitute for authentic interaction, and texting in place of talking. If a person is not mindful, the new media can quickly crowd into the core of ones life. The blank spaces in our awareness in which we used to think for ourselves, are soon filled with group-think and conformity. We can lose time, in every sense of the words.

During my reading of The End Of Absence, I paused to ponder my own years of life before the Internet. Meditations were longer and more insightful. There was time for much more daydreaming before the Web crept into my life. I had a much better appreciation of solitude, too. Life was less superficial in those days. These memories are not gooey nostalgia, either. Life was qualitatively different pre-Internet. This is not to say my present life is awful. I’m only stating, oftentimes, there seems to be less depth to life, now.

We cannot just live as an independent, sometimes absent, being anymore. We’re constantly “in touch” and connecting with everyone. Many of us, like Harris, are reaching our saturation points. Sometimes we need to step back and reconnect with the real world, instead.

{ The End Of Absence –Reclaiming What We’ve Lost In A World Of Constant Connection by Michael Harris; 256 pages; Published August 7, 2014 by Current (Penguin); ISBN: 978-1-59184-693-2 }

Ciao
moi1986bThe Blue Jay of Happiness thinks The End Of Absence is a perfect book for National Book Month.

Posted in Books, cultural highlights, Gadgets, Health | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mata Hari

The cartoon short, “Plane Daffy” exposed me to a twisted version of history. I was only ten-years-old, but I knew that particular Daffy Duck episode was World War Two propaganda. I later learned that the villainess of the story was a parody of Mata Hari, and that her cartoon appearance applied to the wrong war. The real Mata Hari was a much more complex and interesting person than the Warner Brothers’ depiction made her out to be.

MataHari-02Margaretha Zelle was born August 7, 1876 in the Dutch city, Leeuwarden, Netherlands. She was the eldest child of Adam and Antje Zelle. Margaretha was spoiled by her successful father, who owned a hat shop and had invested smartly. She was able to attend exclusive schools until the age of 13. In 1889, Adam became bankrupt, then in 1891 Margaretha’s mother died.

After the breakup of the family, Margaretha was sent to a teacher training school by her godfather. However, a scandal ensued when the headmaster of the school became fascinated by the 15-year-old girl. Margaretha left the school, then moved in with her uncle, in The Hague.

At age 18, Margaretha became engaged to Rudolph MacLeod. The two had met as the result of a practical joke. MacLeod’s friend had placed a bogus “lonely heart” ad in the local newspaper to prank the officer on leave from the Dutch East Indies. John and Margaretha married two years later. The couple lived most of their married life in Indonesia under tight financial conditions, social isolation, and tropical heat. One of their two children died after a poisoning at age two. The family returned to Holland in 1902 then, the couple separated.

Margaretha had no husband nor income and needed a fresh start.  She decided to live in Paris. She parlayed her knowledge of Indonesian culture to create an exotic persona. She used her imagination to become a seductive dancer who wore flashy jewelry, sprinkled her speech with Malay phrases, and wore provocative clothing or next to nothing. She was an overnight success following her dancing debut in March of 1905 in a Parisian salon, Musée Guimet.

Margaretha adopted her stage name, Mata Hari, which is Malayan for “Eye of the Day”, the Sun. At the same time, she weaved a fictional back story for her self-promotion. Margaretha told interviewers and reporters that she was the daughter of a Hindu baron, a Javanese princess. Margaretha became the long-time mistress of Musée Guimet owner and industrialist Émile Guimet.

Even though Mata Hari’s stories about her youth were bogus, she continued to weave ever more fanciful tales. Her style was MataHari-01groundbreaking, even for Paris. Her free-willed, provocative personality led to her popularity and eventual global fame. As her popularity expanded, Mata Hari attended prestigious parties, traveled extensively, and acquired several military lovers.

Just prior to the Great War (WW I), Mata Hari performed the final show of her career, in March of 1915. Her youthful appearance had begun to wane, and she had gained more weight.  Her life as a courtesan had started to take center stage. Mata Hari had relationships and affairs with politicians, high-ranking military officers, and other wealthy men. The lovers brought her across international borders, frequently. As European, political tensions increased, some people in the intelligence services began to view Mata Hari as a potential danger.

Because the Netherlands declared neutrality during the war, Zelle could cross borders freely as a Dutch subject. Her movements between Spain, the Netherlands, France, and Britain attracted special attention from the authorities. She was a passenger on a ship from Spain in 1916. When the steamer docked at Falmouth, England, Mata Hari was arrested. She was interrogated about suspected counter-espionage, at New Scotland Yard. Mata Hari claimed she was an agent for French Intelligence and was released from custody.

In January of 1917, French Intelligence operatives intercepted several radio messages to Berlin. The communications described the friendly activities of a German spy, H-21. The French agents decoded the messages and determined that agent H-21 was one and the same as Mata Hari.

Mata Hari was arrested at her suite at the Hotel Elysée Palace, Paris, on February 13, 1917. She was charged with spying for the enemy and indirectly causing death for more than 50,000 soldiers.

MataHari-03

No solid evidence could be found to back up the Allied claims, aside from some supposed “secret ink” found in her makeup case. Her defense attorney, Edouard Clunet was denied permission to interrogate his own witnesses and the prosecution’s witnesses directly. In what amounted to a “kangaroo court”, her conviction was inevitable. On October 15, 1917, Mata Hari was brought to Vincennes, Paris, then shot to death by firing squad.

Mata Hari’s short obituary in the “New York Times” described her as a woman of great attractiveness with a romantic history. Much of the public is still fascinated with the mystery and intrigue surrounding Mata Hari. Her story gave birth to many books, and movies. Most famously, the 1931 movie “Mata Hari” which starred Greta Garbo and Ramon Novarro.

The truth behind the espionage charges, was revealed in German documents unsealed in the 1970s. Several papers show that Mata Hari  was employed by the German services. Her reports were relayed to Berlin by the Kriegsnachrichtenstelle West in Düsseldorf. Other sources originated from the German embassy in Madrid. Her supervisor was a Captain Hoffman, the agent who assigned her code name H-21.

Ciao
1984aThe Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Mata Hari. “The dance is a poem of which each movement is a word.”

Posted in cultural highlights, Entertainment, History, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments