Wednesday, September 28, 2016

History: The Year is 1880

I've uploaded year 1880 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Greatest Show on Earth! -- Barnum meets Bailey. I talk about the film industry and blacklisting and my personal experiences as a professional clown.

Flex-Electricity is Discovered -- The effect of generating electricity by stressing certain materials is seen as a lab curiosity, but today it is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Notable Births -- Helen Keller, Tom Mix, MacArthur and WC Fields.

The Greatest Show on Earth!

P.T. Barnum is a former state congressman and past mayor of Bridgeport, Connecticut so you know you can trust him. His various "hoaxes" are explained away as publicity stunts to attract the public to his museum. After all, who could possibly believe that a monkey from Fiji was actually born with the tail of a fish, or that General Tom Thumb was really that tall? (He was actually a 4 year-old dwarf from Bridgeport who smoked too much.) Despite these dubious publicity stunts, many of his museum exhibits were real. He also promoted the Swedish singer, Jenny Lind whose crystal clear voice attracted tens of thousands. (He made half a million on that deal. She made $350,000 which is like 94 million in 2015 dollars.) He didn't get into the circus business until he was 60 years old and here we are today. He is in competition with the Cooper and Bailey's Circus. They both want to buy a baby elephant named Columbia, the first elephant born in the United States. Barnum and Baily meet in Philadelphia and decide to merge their circuses instead. By next year they will buy Jumbo the Elephant and introduce three rings to the circus. The circus will be called Barnum and Baily's Greatest Show on Earth. It will be bought out by the Ringling Brothers in 1907. Elephants will get the boot in 2016 after the circus wins a lawsuit against animal rights activists, but decides that compliance with local regulations regarding the use of elephants in entertainment just isn't worth the trouble any more. [1]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I was a professional clown, but I'll talk about that in a moment. First, the movie "The Greatest Show on Earth" (1952) starring Charlton Heston and freakin' EMMETT KELLY won the Academy Award for best picture. It was good but not THAT good. The contending film, "High Noon," had a COMMUNIST in it and we can't have the All-American Academy Awards going Red! Ah... those were the days. The Las Vegas illusionist Penn Jillette graduated from the Barnum and Baily Clown School, but Penn didn't become a clown. He met this guy named Teller and they talked... well... Penn talked. Teller listened. (That's a gag! Teller can talk.) I became a clown in the 1980s. I was a cook, an earthworks inspector, a magazine editor, a writer, a salesman, an improvisational comedian, a BIOS programmer for Dell Computers, and clowning was in the middle, somewhere. Why a clown? I needed a way to payback the community. I was a very bad boy when I was younger. I apologized for my misdeeds, but there were people I could never find. How was I to repay them? I got training as a real clown. People act differently when you are a real clown. They will walk into traffic for you. I've seen it. Some children and even adults will be frightened. It is your responsibility to help them through that. One day a man tried to hit me, he was so frightened. I turned away. I was willing to let him hit me because I am the clown. I don't hurt. I only help. Clowning is not enough to make up for everything in my past. I know that, but that doesn't excuse me from trying. I tell you this not to make myself look good, but to remind everyone that redemption is possible. In my case, it took a miracle, and it took a few people who went out of their way to help me. [2] [3] [4]

Flex-Electricity is Discovered

I don't know where they came up with the name for this phenomenon, but two French scientists discover that when pressure is applied to certain materials, an electric current is produced. You push the button and BAM! For years scientists have noticed that changes in temperature can cause a static charge to develop in some materials. This is called the pyro-electric effect, but the Curie brothers figure that this effect occurs due to stresses on the crystal structure of the material. Thus, if you flex or stress certain types of material, you should get an electric current. It works! They call it piezoelectricity (That's, PYE-zoh.) They demonstrate the effect on quartz, topaz and cane sugar among other materials! They also reason that if flexing can cause an electric current to be produced, applying electricity to the same substance will cause it to flex. That also works. But it's all just laboratory fun. There can't possibly be an application for this stuff. Is there? [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Today it is a multi-billion dollar business. It started with a submarine detector in World War 1. They send out a sound pulse in the water and measure the time it takes for the sound wave to bounce back to the detector. The detector "flexes" and generates a signal. They find all sorts of applications after this. One is a guitar mike pickup. It's that little device that a musician will attach to his acoustic guitar to transfer the sound to an amplifier or recorder. The sound of the guitar causes a membrane inside the mike to flex slightly, generating a signal. Other applications are as a cigarette lighter that needs no fuel or batteries, various types of detectors and as a source of electricity embedded in a soldier's boots. Those night vision goggles take batteries, so how are you supposed to recharge them in the field? Soldiers can't be sitting around all day waiting for solar power to work. You either carry a lot of batteries along or recharge them from current generated as you walk around. This is wearable electronics. Brilliant.

Notable Births

  • Douglas MacArthur. US Army General. He will fight in the Philippines in World War 2, occupy Japan, and invade Korea until President Truman fires him for insubordination. [6]
  • Helen Keller. Socialist. Born deaf and blind, she will overcome her handicaps with the help of Anne Sullivan. [7]
  • B. C. Forbes. Financial journalist. He will found Forbes Magazine in 1917. [8]
  • Tom Mix. Film star. He will define the western cowboy in film. [9]
  • W. C. Fields. Comedian and professional cynic. "Don't say you can't give up drinking. It's easy. I've done it a thousand times." and "I never vote for anyone; I always vote against." [10] [11]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1880, Wikipedia.

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