Obama‘s Clock

At 10:10 AM on June 25, 2010 in the Oval Office President Obama heard the news that the Supreme Court had supported the continuation of the Affordable Care Act. He and his staff celebrated. At 10:30 AM photographs by the official staff photographer showed that the clock in the office had stopped at 10:10 AM.

An old song, “My Grandfather’s Clock” suggests that some of us may be closely connected to inanimate objects.

Written in 1876 told the story of one person’s connection to a physical object:

“My grandfather’s clock was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born,
And was always his treasure and pride;
But it stopp’d short — never to go again —
When the old man died.”

The song was based upon a clock and two brothers who owned the George Hotel in Piercebridge, England. The old up right clock in the lobby always kept perfect time until one of the brothers died. Gradually, the clock slowed, falling increasingly behind. Clockmakers could not reverse the slowing. Shortly after the second brother died, the clock stopped, never to go again. A song writer came to the Hotel around 1875, heard the story and personalized it for the song.

The living spirit of the brothers seemed to keep the clock going. When the second one died, that sustaining spirit abandoned the clock.

A friend told a similar story:  “A relative of mine had a   gold pocket watch for much of his life. In the 1940s he committed suicide. The day he died the watch stopped. It could not be fixed. The family still has the watch.” 

In 2014, the BBC reported another story.  For many decades, Dr. John Farmer had lovingly looked after the clock of the St. James’ Church in Yorkshire, England. At the moment he died at age 92, the church clock stopped working. Once or twice per week, he had climbed through semi-darkness to wind the clock. Three years before his death, the church had mechanized the clock. 

Clocks seem to be responsive to certain kinds of intense energy changes. 

Base rate analysis

What are the base rates for the Oval Office clock stopping at any time? Not known. But obviously it can happen. How often does President Obama celebrate a victory this enthusiastically? Since the Affordable Care Act may be his most cherished accomplishment, and he had reason to think that it could be gutted, this could have been his most enthusiastic celebration.

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