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Showing posts from August, 2014

Remembering and Honoring Soldiers- Me Promoting a Personal Passion of Mine

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     I was going to write another story but I just did not feel like it today. With all this ice bucket challenge going on I felt I would do my part to plug what I deem a worthy cause. And while it does not heal any disease of the human body, I think it does help heal the hearts and collective spirits of a group of people that this country largely forgot, the Vietnam veterans.     Vietnam vets served their country in a war that was ugly, long, and unpopular. But it did not stop hundreds of thousands of young men from answering the call of duty by accepting their draft or in many cases volunteering to serve in the armed forces. While the specter of defeat hung over the nation and low morale claimed the zeitgeist of the home front from 1968 onward, soldiers from all races, creeds, and socio economic backgrounds continued to serve...and many died. Most tragically the unpopular nature of the war made their home towns cold or hostile when they returned if they were lucky enough to do so.

Historical Failures in Advertisement

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    This is a short post, but one I think you will all laugh at and enjoy. It is on a somewhat adult subject, but from my stats on this blog you seem to all enjoy that. You cheeky and degenerate lovelies you!    In 1883, a young German Jewish immigrant named Julius Schmidt founded Schmidt Laboratories in New York. He later named it Julius Schmidt Company. His company soon threw its hat into the prophylactic business.  Condoms were nothing new, indeed they had been around since the late 15th century in western society and even longer in Asian society. However, they were made from a range of materials that were full of drawbacks. Leather, linen, and intestinal membranes were all used in Europe until the late 19th century. But the invention of vulcanized rubber in the 1840's made them cheaper and more widely available. By the 20's they were made of latex rubber. They were popular especially in military circles as well as in the upper classes. Manufacturers at the time sought to

Presidential Backfire- The Election of 1900

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     Before I speak of the election of 1900 I need to go back four years to the election of 1896. The country was not in a good place. There was essentially a depression from 1893 onwards(finally ending in 1897) caused by railroad failures the European investment withdrawal in certain U.S. markets. This lead to a fall in stocks across the board and a run on the banks. This in turn caused many more banks to become insolvent. There was a shortage of gold to back up the currency at the time and the U.S. government needed to issue bonds to satisfy the demand...albeit at a slow pace. As with most troubling economic times, there was large political instability. By the time the next election came along the Democratic party saw a HUGE populist uprising backed by those most affected by the economy of the time(unskilled laborers, family farmers, poor immigrants). They demanded the use of silver in addition to gold to back up the paper money as well as more regulation of big business.     The P

By a Nose- The Bizzare Astronomer Tycho Brahe

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     Many people would recognize the names Galileo and Copernicus, but many people would struggle to place the name Tycho Brahe if mentioned. Indeed while obscure now, during his life, Tycho Brahe was a superstar in the world of astronomy. From the 16th through the early 18th century there was a hot debate on the cosmological makeup of the known universe. Since the time of Alexander the Great the universe was firmly believed to be based on the geocentric model. Indeed via observation it did appear the earth was fixed and all the heavenly celestial bodies revolved around it. Some four centuries later, a Greek mathematician named Ptolemy built a functioning model of this system to account for the retrograde movement of planets. This system was embraced by the Christian church as there were multiple passages in the bible that seemed to back up the geocentric model(Joshua 10:13 especially). Over the next 1,300 years the Ptolemaic/Aristotelian system became dogma.      Copernicus was famo

Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah bat bomb...Bat bomb...BAT BOMB!

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     They say that necessity is the mother of all invention. Certainly no other event causes necessity like a war time environment. And while it certainly gave us many things we now count on for modern life, necessity has also given birth to many odd and often stupid ideas. One of the most utterly out of the box and weird idea came out of World War Two. The Bat Bomb.      The Second World War saw air power rise to the forefront of modern combat. Fighter planes, torpedo and dive bombers, and regular bombers did more to win/lose that war than just about any other technology. It was also the first war that saw civilian populations being targeted by mass carpet bombing air raids on both sides. It was this new found war on cities that inspired Lytle Adams, a dentist and close friend of the Roosevelts, to conceive of the bat bomb as a way to decimate Japanese cities. In his 1942 proposal to the president, the dentist remarked that Japanese cities, still largely constructed of wood and pape

You Had Just One Job- John Swift, the Worst Executioner in British History

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     Being an executioner in ye olde Britain was by no means a pleasant position to hold. And often, especially in the 18th century there were no shortage of people that needed executing. The passage of the Waltham Black Acts in 1723 added 50 crimes to the roster of offenses punishable by death. Along with rebellions and a century of war rife with deserters and traitors, many British found themselves at the gallows or their necks on the chopping block. Great Britain was in need of more executioners, and this is where the saga of John Swift begins.     We know very little of John Swift. As a commoner in 18th century Great Britain, his life is relatively undocumented and of little note. But around 1745 he committed and was found guilty of one of the many many new crimes punishable by death. However, due to the lack of executioners he was offered a reprieve if he donned the black hood and worked as an axeman for the state. Obviously, the man chose to become the newest recruit at the Tower

How one race changed the world

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     When you go to school and take history courses you often learn that we are to thank Henry Ford for the automotive age. While he did not invent the automobile, he certainly made it available to the common man due to its reasonable price. A big part of this included the implementation of the moving assembly line that made mass production a real possibility for the first time in the automotive world. But all of those changes almost did not happen.      Henry Ford had the dream of making cars available to the working man. He had failed to get the Detroit Automobile Company off the ground from 1899 until 1901.With his name and 900 dollars Henry Ford was determined to realize his dream and make the new Ford Motor Company a success. Ford had a car he believed was not only dependable and viable. At the time there was a cartel in the fledgling auto industry in America. The Association of Licensed Automobile Manufacturers held the patent on the automobile. Anyone wanting to produce cars f

Founding Father Hooch

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     Many of our founding fathers were quite resourceful men in manufacturing and agriculture. George Washington, our first president, was especially a master of many crafts. Included in his agricultural pursuits were rye whiskey and  beer production. If you are ever in the New York Public Library you can actually see his handwritten beer recipe. For any of you who are home beer brewers, I have included the 1757 recipe below. It is indeed somewhat unusual as it's ingredients are not what you typically see as there is no malted grains involved. Instead bran and molasses were used. Enjoy! " To make Small Beer Take a large Sifter full of Bran Hops to your Taste. "” Boil these 3 hours. Then strain out 30 Gallons into a Cooler, put in 3 Gallons Molasses while the Beer is scalding hot or rather drain the molasses into the Cooler & strain the Beer on it while boiling Hot. Let this stand till it is little more than Blood warm. Then put in a quart of Yeast if the weat

Vintage Mailorder Madness- A selection from the 1897 Sears Catalog

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      Photos have been enlarged to allow you you to read them.       In these modern days we can log on to Amazon or Ebay and just about buy anything we want. Well in the 19th century the people could do much the same via the mail from stores like Sears and Roebuck and Montgomery Wards. You could buy everything for your household...even the stuff to make a house via these catalogs. Medicine, food, cosmetics, guns, books, instruments...you name it! It could all be bought in very short order and delivered to your town thanks to the then modern marvel that was the railroad. I use a copy of the 1897 catalog in my American history classes to show just how cheap things were back then, but also the wide and sometimes whacky variety of products one could buy. Here are a few good ones I thought would entertain people.    1.  Laudanum- This product may or may not be familiar to you. Laudanum is basically a tincture of Opium, so it is very similar to a form of concentrated