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Showing posts from December, 2014

Historical Pep Talk

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     So lets face facts, at some time most of us think we are not good enough. We hold ourselves up to the standards set by others. We wish we were like this person....or that. We wish we were smarter, more creative, or more successful. It is human nature that we strive to improve ourselves. It is what has raised our species to an exceptional level in the history of life on this planet. But it is a double edged sword. Those benchmarks we set based on others often makes us feel inadequate. But do not feel bad people...you are not alone. Many of the heroes we keep in our pantheon of history have had that same human experience...and here are a few. Albert Einstein This is the man that fundamentally changed the way we look at physics. His work on relativity changed the paradigm of how we fundamentally understand the universe. Before Einstein we lived in a Newtonian universe. Now we live in an Einsteinian one. That man with the iconic unkempt hair and mustache made us look at everythi

Royally Frustrated....the sex life of Louis XVI

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       So it is New Years...and there are no doubt quite a few of us that feel lonely or frustrated with our romantic lives. Well, this is a tale of a royally epic and no doubt frustrating dry spell to make you feel better about the lack of romance in your lives. This is the tale of Louis XVI's bizarre first years of marriage to Marie Antoinette.       So when Louis and Marie were married they were in their mid teens. This of course is when we are all bursting at the seems with hormones and you would think the royal couple would have done what teenagers tend to to, and by all means, what they were expected to do...procreate. Well that is by no means what happened on the first night...or the first week...or the first month...or the first year of their marriage. In fact the marriage was not consummated with a royal shagging for about 7 years. Now you might wonder why a young couple would go so long without doing the deed, well here is why.      It was not that Louis found Marie u

Silent Night: The Centennial of a Christmas Miracle

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     The year was 1914 and the world had gone mad. Since 1815 the long balance of power between the the nations of Europe had been eroding. The deal struck by dusty old monarchists and aristocrats in the halls of Vienna at the end of the Napoleonic wars was on it's last legs. Many of the old giants of continental Europe were rotting. The Ottomans, the Hapsburgs, and the Romanovs were overseeing empires in decline. New nations had arisen in the Balkans, and a new giant, the German Empire came into being in 1870 upsetting the order of things. Between the 1890 and the 1913 all out war nearly nearly came a handful of times as old and new powers positioned and postured to gain or maintain their places in the sun. When a teenager shot the heir apparent to the once great Hapsburg throne in the summer of 1914, the war that so many were eager for came. But it was not the easy and quick war many anticipated. The eagerness of a war that would be over by Christmas was quickly stamped out as bo

The Darker Side of Christmas

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     Across this land, many of us are getting ready for the impending Christmas holiday. In America we have some interesting Christmas traditions. We have that creepy little elf on the shelf, marathons of movies such as A Christmas Story, A Christmas Carol,  Its a Wonderful Life, etc. We have cute Coca Cola polar bears and shopping mall Santas. Essentially we have a very Norman Rockwell sort of Christmas in the United States. It is nice for the kids and for the whole family. However, Christmas traditions in certain parts of the Old World are just down right dark and/or wrong in comparison. Here are a couple. Zwarte Piet  In the Netherlands, they have a dynamic duo for the Christmas holiday. There is the usual Saint Nicholas that we know today. The Dutch call him Sinterklaas . And then there is the servant...named Black Pete ( Zwarte Piet). Over time the image and background has changed for this character. In earlier medieval times Zwarte Piet was some sort of chained black devil or

The Belgian Connection

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      Many of you out there that know your Second World War history know that the name of the first atomic bomb dropped on Japan at Hiroshima was "Little Boy". This was one of two designs the famous Manhattan Project worked on.It was called the gun type which made it long but skinny.  The other designs detonated where of the implosion-explosian type called Trinity and Fat Man. They were more complicated but more efficient. What you may not know is just where we got all the uranium for those early bombs from. The story is interesting.      When war broke out in 1939 with the German invasion of Poland, the world watched the failure of appeasement as Hitler swallowed up Poland. The invasion of that sovereign state by the Germans brought declarations of war from Britain and France. It was only a matter of time before the war came to the western front. Along the French-German frontier lay the Maginot Line. A series of heavily armed defensive forts that in the French mind would d