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Yang Kyoungjong - The Most Captured Man of WW2

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     It is rare that a man can say that he fought for three different sides in a war. However Yang Kyoungjong could. And what makes his story particularly amazing is that never once did he volunteer, instead he was conscripted every single time. Here is his story     His adventure began in 1938. Now most basic history books show World War Two started in 1939, and while this is certainly the case for Europe, the war in Asia goes all the way back to 1931 with the initial Japanese invasion of Chinese Manchuria. In 1938, eighteen year old Yang, a Korean national was drafted into the Imperial Japanese Army. At the time Korea was a Japanese colony and Koreans were often drafted into service, especially for support roles. A year later Yang found himself stationed with the Japanese Kwantung Army along the Mongolian border with  Manchukuo (Japanese name for occupied Manchuria). At the time Mongolia was a communist state allied closely with the Soviet Union.That is a nice way of saying that Mo

Going Postal- The Birth and Death of the American Letter Mail Company

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     In the modern world we are very used to ordering something online and having someone from FedEx, UPS, DHL, or the United States Postal Service delivering it to our door. The competition between carriers has largely benefited the consumer, as it helps to keep prices moderately low. However, there was a time in the history of the United States when there was only one delivery service, and the United States Post Office was terribly expensive. One man decided he could do it better and cheaper. His name was Lysander Spooner. Lysander Spooner in his later, and more radical years. He turned to individual anarchism following the Civil War.      Today if we want to mail a letter via the post office, we buy a forever stamp for one ounce of mail. However from the dawn of the post office until the 1840's, there was no real standardized rate. You were charged based on the size of the letter, where it was sent from, as well as its destination. If it had to go on a boat, extra fee

The Bat Man of Iowa

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Some of you readers may recall the post about the famous "Angels of Mons" that I wrote about a few years back. It was about a historical legend of the British army regarding an early battle in the First World War. Well this post is something similar and closer to home (since I live in Iowa). Hopefully you will enjoy this curious Edwardian urban legend which is part of our social history in the Hawkeye State. If you go to the town of Van Meter Iowa today you will see a sleepy little community of around 1,100 people. At the turn of the 20th century, the number of residents was about 40% of what it is today. It was truly a small quiet village about 20 miles from Des Moines. However over the course of several days in the autumn of 1903, something bizarre happened in Van Meter that would gain the attention of the national and worldwide press.  One evening, an agricultural implement dealer named U.G. Griffith reported seeing something on a downtown rooftop. He initially thought

The Communist Chocolate Bar Plot

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      In 1947, life in Canada was changing. Much like in the USA, the economy was transitioning away from the wartime model and back to nor mal. In many ways this was a truly positive thing. As the war contracts ran out, many manufacturers started producing goods for the civilian marke t again in large numbers. Automobile makers had t heir first new mo dels in years, rationing of goods li ke sug ar, gasoline, rubber tires, and nylon were phased out. Life looked on the sur face to be getting back to the nor malcy people knew before t he Germans marched into Poland in 1939. However for quite a few, the transition was hurting them in the one place people hate the most, in their pocketbook.        Du ring the wartime years it was well understood by many governments that suppl ying the troops as well as the homefront with goods would cause shortages. Simple supply and demand economics dictates a sharp rise in prices when there are short ages. Governments were eager to keep the populac

The Last Man

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The First World War chewed up the flower of an entire generation of Europeans. But have you ever wondered about the last men to lose their lives in the Great War, or any war for that matter? Well today my friend you get to satiate that thirst for knowledge to a degree. But first lets get the context...so now some backstory. In the spring of 1918 the German Empire threw all that it had left into one giant gamble to win the war. Having knocked the Russians out of the war and stabilized the Austro-Hungarians in their fight against Italy, the Germans diverted all their forces to the west against the British and the French. For the first time since 1914, the Germans had the advantage in material and manpower against the Allies on the front. However, the Americans were now starting to arrive in good numbers, so this was temporary and dictated swift action. The German command unleashed a series of brutal attacks known as the Kaiserschlacht (Kaisers Battle) that finally broke the stalemate th

Joan Claybrook and the "Safe Motorcycle"

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If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am an automotive enthusiast. Well prepare yourself for another interesting story about the history of vehicles as we tell the story of Joan Claybrook, a bureaucrat that crusaded for a "safe motorcycle". First of all....who is this Joan Claybrook? Well Joan Claybrook was the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) during the Carter administration. Claybrook was a disciple of Ralph Nader, the man that killed the Chevrolet Corvair with his 1965 work "Unsafe at any Speed". A decade after Nader, new regulations had made American cars safer with things like padded dashes, impact absorbing steering wheels, dual circuit brake systems, and standard seat belts. However, the bike you bought new off the showroom floor was essentially the same as it was for decades in terms of safety. Some advances in disc brake technology made stopping more efficient, but it was more a market driven need

A Dead President and a Naked Prime Minister- When Winston Met Abe

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Yes...I have returned after a long period of inactivity. We all love a ghost story. They are part of our cultural history. Whether we believe they are true or false, they are good old fashioned fun. Here is one of several that originate from the White House, the seat of executive power in the United States. Shortly before Christmas 1941, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrived at the White House to discuss how to proceed with the war against the Axis Powers. Of course on December 7th , the United States had been plunged head long into war following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Churchill would spend nearly a month at the White House and stayed in the Lincoln Bedroom. Churchill loved his baths. He would do much of his thinking and relaxing in a hot tub with a cigar and some brandy. One evening, after taking a long bath, he emerged naked into the bedroom proper to find he had company. There was a tall man in a dark Victorian suit leaning at against the fireplace mantle l