Wednesday, November 30, 2016

History: The Year is 1907

I've uploaded year 1907 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Brownsville Incident -- Teddy Roosevelt dishonorably discharges 167 black soldiers.

Marconi Opens for Business -- It's wireless all the way.

Notable 'Pop-Culture' Births -- Lots of folks.

The Brownsville Incident

Racial tensions are running high in Brownsville, Texas. Recently, soldiers of the 25th Infantry were stationed at Fort Brown. Brownsville has separate-but-equal laws, so the black soldiers are allowed only in certain establishments, and they are to defer to all white people. IT'S THE LAW! The Supreme Court says so. Then the bartender is shot dead. With no firm suspects, spent cartridges are presented by the citizens as "proof" that the soldiers did it. The Army officers are white and they attest that the soldiers were in their barracks at the time of the murder. With these facts in hand, President Theodore "TR" Roosevelt dishonorably discharges 167 black soldiers for their "conspiracy of silence." No trial. No appeal. No white people are discharged. (I know what you are thinking. I wish I knew what the President was thinking.) In the midst of the controversy, Roosevelt attends the Gridiron Dinner. As he is sipping his turtle soup, he browses through the commemorative booklet of comical cartoon portraits. Suddenly, he realizes that there is a racist remark included. He takes it's inclusion in the booklet as a criticism of his Brownsville decision. (I won't repeat the remark here, but the chance of a fight breaking out in the modern day would be middle-to-low. In 1907, the probability approaches certainty.) Roosevelt leaps to his feet, and the dinner stops right in the middle of the shad. (That's a fish.) TR takes half an hour criticizing the people who have opposed his actions. It gets personal. The turtle soup congeals. No one moves. The Senate conducts an investigation of the Brownsville Incident and will find that the President acted appropriately. TR softens a little and offers to reinstate those who can prove they were not involved in the cover-up. (Yes. I know. You cannot prove a negative.) The case will be revisited and the soldiers exonerated in 1972. Meanwhile, TR calls a halt to all Japanese immigration. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I am reminded of the black college professor who came home late from a conference. He didn't have his key. He broke into his own house, and apparently, someone called the cops. The police showed up and asked for some identification... while he was in his own home. OK. He was upset. I understand. My son often gets stopped by the cops for "jogging while not white." He has a Phd. Getting hassled for being the wrong color pisses him off. We have to work this out somehow, but not at the Federal level. President Obama said, "The police acted stupidly." Maybe they did. Maybe they didn't. BUT HOW WOULD HE KNOW? He assumed. The President's assumption resulted in the cops being tried in the media and found guilty. Eventually the President called a "Beer Summit" so that the story could have a happy ending. That solved the President's media problem, but we cannot solve the problem that comes from making the wrong assumption because making assumptions protects us most of the time. If I see a man running at me, I can assume he is a jogger or a mugger. If I assume that he is a mugger and I run away, I am safe even if he is not a mugger. However, if I assume he is a jogger, and I do not run away, I am not as safe because he might be a mugger. What is the answer? Jog with a policeman. [3] [4] [5]

Marconi Opens for Business

Marconi is credited with the invention of the wireless telegraph and radio in general although his transmissions were not continuous wave transmissions as one would expect from AM and FM radio waves. In other words, he was not set for sound. Certainly he has tied together the major elements of a wireless telegraph and this year he is open for business. He has built two large transmitters on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. No more wires along the sea bottom. Along with transmitting messages back and forth, he also provides a news service for ships. He provides the equipment and operator who takes down the information on shipboard. Then the news is included in the ship newspaper for their passengers. Marconi is also peddling his wireless as a safety device. When ships are in trouble, they can send an S-O-S. This new emergency signal been adopted recently and will remain the universal distress signal until 1999 when it will be replaced by the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System. Yeah. I have no idea either. I'm sticking with SOS. [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
As an interesting side note, Marconi was a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race kind of guy. As a consequence, he didn't win many races. He stuck with old systems that were more reliable when better systems were being developed by others. He did save some ships with his wireless telegraph and as a consequence he was offered a free ride on the Titanic! What a treat! Unfortunately, he took another ship because he needed to get some work done and he liked the stenographer on the other ship. He missed out on that adventure, but the wireless allowed many passengers to be rescued because the wireless allowed near-by ships to be notified after the Titanic hit that iceberg. [8]

Notable 'Pop-Culture' Births

  • Cesar Romero (Will play "The Joker" in the 1960s Batman TV series.) [9]
  • Burgess Meredith (Will play "The Penguin" in the 1960s Batman TV series, and "Mick," the trainer in the movie "Rocky".) [10]
  • Fay Wray (Will scream all the way through the 1933 movie, "King Kong".) [11]
  • Orville Redenbacher (Will sell popcorn out of the back of his car at first.) [12]
  • Robert A. Heinlein (Sci-Fi author of "Star Ship Troopers", "Stranger in a Strange Land" and many others.) [13] [14]
  • Cab Calloway (Early bandleader, but best known as the musical mentor to the Blues Brothers in the movie.) [15]
  • Rosalind Russell (An amazing actress, but I loved her as Mother Superior of a Catholic all-girls school in "The Trouble with Angels".) [20]
  • Katharine Hepburn (Another amazing actress in films like "The African Queen" and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?") [21]
  • Ray Milland (An amazing actor, but I remember him best in the cult classic "The Man with the X-Ray Eyes") [22]
  • John Wayne (The action-film actor... NOT the airport, NOT the serial killer, and DEFINITELY NOT the guy who had his manhood chopped off by Lorena Bobbitt.) [23] [24]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1907, Wikipedia.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

History: The Year is 1906

I've uploaded year 1906 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Big One: The 'Frisco Quake -- I talk about the quake, the fire, and the basics on surviving an earthquake.

Welcome to the Jungle: Muckraking Finds its Voice -- Upton Sinclair publishes his novel about the meatpacking industry.

Notable Births -- Leonid Brezhnev, Adolf Eichmann and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

In Other News -- The Earth has a molten core, the Pentecostal Movement, and Mahatma Gandhi gets non-violent.

The Big One: The 'Frisco Quake

It is two hours before dawn in San Francisco. There is a deep rumble like a heavy truck going by except that in 1906 there are no heavy trucks. 20 seconds later the ground sways and in less than a minute the world comes apart. It is a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. There is a sudden change in ground elevation. Then everything moves over 20 feet... well.. almost everything. The water lines from the reservoir are gone. GONE! Gas lines rupture. Oil lamps tip over. The fire alarm is dead, but the fire department already knows. Over 50 fires erupt simultaneously. (There are only 40 fire stations.) All Hell is breaking loose. Two days later, the fire chief is dead and they are still fighting the fire. The hydrant at 20th and Church is working! (They paint it gold later on.) After 3 days, the fire is contained. 500 city blocks have been wiped out. To avoid panic, the government lies about the number of dead, but we are well past panic. 3,000 to 6,000 are dead. Maybe 300,000 are homeless, but frankly, a tent is preferred these days. Thank you very much. The rubble is pushed into the bay creating an artificial peninsula. The insurance payoffs will hit investment hard and a world-wide economic downturn will ensue. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
During the 1989 World Series, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake hit the city. Since the 1906 peninsula was never engineered, the most spectacular earthquake damage occurred there. The entire first floor of a building sank below ground due to liquefaction of the soil. This occurs when ground water pumps to the surface due to vibration caused by an earthquake, or the traffic of heavy earth-moving equipment. ("Heavy" is defined as "heavier than D6 bulldozer" which is about 18 tons.) In Irvine, California, I've seen a Caterpillar® scraper buried to its axles in the mud it created with the vibration of its passing. [8]
Question: How can I survive a large earthquake?
Answer: Don't let stuff fall on your head. All the rest is commentary. Briefly, DO NOT RUN OUTSIDE! Pieces of the building are falling off! Inside your house, stand in a doorway or crawl under a desk. Chain bookcases to the wall studs and give it room to rock a little. Otherwise, the chain will pull out of the wall. Store your supplies to survive a heavy pounding. If your phone works, call your Aunt Lucy in Santa Fe. Local lines get jammed, but out-of-state lines are usually open. If everyone knows to call Aunt Lucy, you can pass messages to the rest of your family. Don't call home. The line is dead.

Welcome to the Jungle: Muckraking Finds its Voice

The Armour meatpacking plant has turned Chicago into meat-packing central. Occupational safety is a personal choice and worker's compensation consists of the right to sue one's employer for negligence, but exactly what "negligence" means is up for grabs. Modern unions are needed, but the current unions are still finding their way. The Industrial Workers of the World known as "The Wobblies", is established this year in Chicago: "One Big Union!" (Yes. They have connections to socialism.) Upton Sinclair is also a socialist. He is a prolific writer, but he will make his name this year publishing the novel, "The Jungle". His purpose is to point out the exploitation of the workers and the terrible work conditions, but the public is disgusted by the unsanitary conditions of a meatpacking plant. Sinclair's novel leads to rumors that clumsy workers are falling into vats of lard to be rendered into breakfast spread for your toast. (Yuck!) This is total BS, but the term "muckraking" is born. The public uproar leads to the passing of the Federal Meat Inspection Act, a requirement for a list of ingredients on the label, and what looks like the beginning of a general truth-in-advertising requirement. [9] [10] [11]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Meat inspection existed prior to this time, but it was easy to circumvent. What was actually happening was that the Federal government wanted to make meat inspection a real inspection. To do that they needed to change the law, but the bill had stalled in Congress. Then came Sinclair's novel. The bill's sponsors leveraged the public outrage and a report from a special investigation on the meatpacking industry to get the bill passed. Oddly enough, Congress found Sinclair's charges to be TOTALLY TRUE! (I saw it on Facebook so it MUST be true!) Look, we needed better meat inspection. No question. There was a serious problem, but this "muckraking" is like lying to get things done. If I have to lie to get things done then I'm doing something wrong. Certainly Sinclair regretted his novel. He failed to win over the public to the virtues of socialism. When I look at it that way, improved meat inspection is a winner. [12] [13] [14]

Notable Births

  • Leonid Brezhnev (Born in Ukraine, he will lead of the Soviet Union after Khrushchev.) [15]
  • Adolf Eichmann (IKE-man) (Nazi mass murderer: "I will leap into my grave laughing because the feeling that I have five million human beings on my conscience is for me a source of extraordinary satisfaction".) [16]
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer (BON-hoff-er) (Lutheran pastor executed for his part in Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.) [17]

In Other News

  • A UK scientist proves that the Earth has a molten core. This contradicts the popular belief that the Earth is hollow with an entrance at the north pole. [18] [19]
  • The Azusa (ah-ZOO-zah) Revival Meeting Kicks off the Pentecostal Movement. It is characterized by a dramatic worship service, speaking in tongues and the like. [20]
  • Mahatma Gandhi organizes his first nonviolent protest. He is in South Africa right now, and his passive resistance philosophy is in its infancy. [21]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1906, Wikipedia.

Friday, November 25, 2016

History: The Year is 1905

I've uploaded year 1905 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Albert Einstein's 'Miracle Year' -- He submits several major papers but I focus on the issues that still touch us today.

Bloody Sunday and the Rise of Socialism -- It is the start of a conflict with the Tsar that will end in 1917 with his death and communism taking over.

Notable Births -- Donald Trump's father, Ayan Rand, Pat Brown.

In Other News -- Las Vegas is founded, Mata Hari dances, the 60-hour work week is unconstitutional. (It's too short!)

Albert Einstein's 'Miracle Year'

Albert Einstein's theories this year will make possible GPS devices, night vision goggles, and the atomic bomb. These inventions won't be realized this year, but the theories behind these inventions are presented in what will be called Einstein's Miracle Year. He points out that light is made up of photons and when they hit metal, an electric charge is produced. Someone will realize that infrared photons can produce such a photoelectric effect and the resulting electric charge can be projected onto your night goggles. Next, Einstein's equation: E=Mc2 (E equals M C squared) means that matter can be turned into energy. According to the movie "Back to the Future" you can throw your garbage into your "Mr. Fusion" and generate enough energy to power your time machine, but that won't happen until 2015. (I think I missed it.) During World War 2, Einstein will suggest that a chain reaction of heavy elements can release a frightening amount of energy from matter. Thus, the Manhattan Project will be born. And finally, the theory of relativity will help in the use of a GPS device. A GPS device measures signal bounce between satellites to within 20 or 30 nano-seconds. However, relativity informs us that we experience time at different rates relative to each other, and depending on how fast we are traveling. (When you fly in a jet you can measure the time difference with an atomic clock, so it's real.) It is enough of a difference that it interferes with GPS time measurement. Relativity explains the problem whereas classical theories do not. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
FYI, Einstein made a BIG MISTAKE. His equations suggested that the universe is expanding, so he added a "cosmological constant" to keep the universe static. A few years later, Edwin Hubble proved it was expanding. Also, as quantum mechanics changed from a mathematical trick into something describing the real universe, Einstein struggled with fellow physicists over how insane the universe was looking like. For example: most people believe that the universe is deterministic, meaning that when you hit a ball, the ball moves. That is cause-and-effect. Unfortunately, at times the universe is non-deterministic. A good example of a non-deterministic universe is the movie, "Arrival" 2016 starring Amy Adams. BEGIN SPOILER ALERT! In a first contact with aliens from space a language specialist is told that the aliens will visit Earth in 3,000 years... which is in the future... isn't it? So how could they know? END SPOILER ALERT! Einstein was great with the public and when children would knock on his door, he would answer their questions graciously. However, he seemed to live best when he lived alone. He would forget to wear socks. [5]

Bloody Sunday and the Rise of Socialism

A lot of people died on that Sunday. Estimates on the body count vary: 132 is the official death count, but many people were stabbed or trampled. Call it 1,000 dead or wounded total. It starts when Father Gapon leads his followers to the Winter Palace at St. Petersburg, Russia to present a petition of grievances to Tsar Nicolas the 2nd. (He's not home.) A general strike has shut down the city. Normally, the workers would organize a petition and submit it to the petitions office or directly to the Tsar. Father Gapon notifies the Palace that they are coming. No threats. So why did the workers think the Tsar would care about their problems? The Tsar's grandfather had freed the serfs, and they see the current Tsar as their champion. When the ex-serfs took jobs in the city, they found the work gueling. Father Gapon formed an organization called The Assembly that informs employers of problems in the workplace and negotiates solutions. No violence is expected, but a series of assassination attempts have made the Imperial Guard jumpy. Frankly, the Guard seems of two minds, sometimes helping the protestors as they head for the public square, other times chopping them down with sabers. Chaos reigns. Now Father Gapon must leave Russia. [6] [7] [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Most historians view Bloody Sunday as the beginning of the Russian Revolution culminating in the 1917 Revolution and communism. The workers had lost faith in the Tsar after Bloody Sunday even though he wasn't in the Palace, and didn't give the order. The 1905 Revolution resulted in a Russian Constitution, but the Tsar didn't like the restrictions on his power. The conflict worsened. Eventually the Tsar and all his family were murdered as the communists came to power. The Soviet Union was born in a bloodbath that makes Bloody Sunday look like a textbook example of crowd control. [9]

Notable Births

  • Donald Trump's father. (Real estate developer Fred Trump is born in Queens to German immigrants.) [9]
  • Ayan Rand (The author of "Atlas Shrugged" is born in Saint Petersburg.) [10]
  • Pat Brown (Governor of California and father of Jerry Brown, governor of California.) [11] [12]

In Other News

  • Las Vegas is founded. The 110 acres purchased this year will become the downtown area. [13]
  • Mata Hari dances her way to fame. Apparently, "fame" does not require much clothing. In 12 more years she will be shot for spying for Germany. [14]
  • SCOTUS finds the 60-hour work week to be unconstitutional. Laws limiting the work week to 60 hours violate the right of "freedom of contract". [15]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1905, Wikipedia.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

History: The Year is 1903

I've uploaded year 1903 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Wright Brothers Dare to Hope -- You would think that manned powered flight would bring riches, glory and respect... but no. Not right away.

The Panama Canal: Lease, Buy or Insurrection -- What luck! A spontaneous insurrection leaves a free and independent Panama to negotiate a treaty with the US to build the Panama Canal.

Notable Births -- Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby and George Orwell

In Other News -- Crayola crayons, the Ford Model A and the USA leases Guantanamo Bay from Cuba.

The Wright Brothers Dare to Hope

Gliding has been all the rage since the 1870s, but the gliders of the day have flaws. Particularly, the wings are not curved properly to produce lift. Orville and his brother Wilbur have been following the work of the German glider experiments and the failed attempts at powered flight by Professor Langley. Yet despite their admiration for the scientists that have come before them, the Wright Brothers believe they can correct the flaws in those previous designs. Orville is an accomplished bicyclist which is why they opened their bicycle repair shop in the first place, but Wilbur wants to fly so bad he can taste it. Wilbur is the driving force behind the effort to build extremely light engines that can deliver the horsepower sufficient to drive a propeller. They also patent ailerons (AYE-ler-rons) which means "little wings" in French. These "little wings" allow for better control in flight. On December 17, 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright drag their rig to a beach just south of Kittyhawk, North Carolina. They fire up the gas engine and Orville lifts off in the first manned powered flight in history. It is the first SUCCESSFUL flight, that is. (That distinction will become important later when Langley claims that he was first.) Orville flies all of 850 feet, but it counts. Two high school drop outs have just put a thumb in the eye of science. Man can fly, and they just proved it. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
One would think that the reward for bringing powered flight to mankind would be the respect of one's peers, the appreciation of the nation and riches beyond the dreams of Avarice, but you'd be wrong. Scientific American Magazine thought it was a hoax. Patent lawsuits tied up development of the airplane until World War 1 forced everyone to pull their collective heads out, and cooperate in saving their own lives. The Wright Brothers made some good money eventually, but Wilbur was the business man. He died early, leaving Orville to carry on as best he could.
"We dared to hope we had invented something that would bring lasting peace to the earth. But we were wrong ... No, I don't have any regrets about my part in the invention of the airplane, though no one could deplore more than I do the destruction it has caused. I feel about the airplane much the same as I do in regard to fire. That is, I regret all the terrible damage caused by fire, but I think it is good for the human race that someone discovered how to start fires and that we have learned how to put fire to thousands of important uses."
-- Orville Wright, commenting on the destructive power of bombers during World War 2. [3] [4]

The Panama Canal: Lease, Buy or Insurrection

Panama is currently a province of Gran Columbia along with Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. Years ago, France had been trying to build a canal across the isthmus of Panama, but yellow fever was killing the workers faster than they could dig the trenches. They gave up. Now the United States has picked up the banner. Luckily, Army Major Walter Reed has already proven that yellow fever is carried by a mosquito. (He used human volunteers to perform the experiments.) Knowing what is killing you is half the battle in the race to build the Panama Canal... but there is a catch. Gran Columbia has failed to ratify the treaty to allow the US to build the canal. They want a bigger cut, but we are talking about President Theodore Roosevelt. He speaks LOUDLY, and carries a BIG stick! Rather than hassle with another round of negotiations, a revolt mysteriously breaks out in Panama with support from US gun boats. (How lucky is that?) The result is the free and independent Republic of Panama. Oddly enough, when the new treaty is signed to build the canal, no Panamanians are present to sign anything, but the treaty will be approved by the Panamanian government early next year. [5] [6] [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
The phrase "banana republic" was coined around this time by an author named "O. Henry" who had been hiding out in South America to avoid criminal charges of fraud. (He eventually did time.) The financial situation was not good in South America, so European nations sent their war ships to collect the money owed them. On the other hand, the South Americans were expecting the US to protect them under the Monroe Doctrine. It was like a little kid kicking a big kid in the shins and then running behind his big brother. In this case the big brother was Theodore Roosevelt. He extended the Monroe Doctrine to include the right of the United States to interfere with... uh... I mean stabilize the economies of South American countries. That included using gunboat diplomacy to make it happen. [8] [9]

Notable Births

  • Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising (Creators of Loony Tunes!) [10]
  • Bob Hope and Bing Crosby (Famous Comedy team) [11] [12]
  • George Orwell (Author of the novel, "1984") [13]

In Other News

  • Crayola crayons are marketed to artists and schools. The name means "oily chalk" in French. [14]
  • Ford rolls out the Model A. $800 for the "Runabout". (About $22,000 in 2015 dollars.) The headlights and horn are extra. [15]
  • The USA leases Guantanamo Bay from Cuba in perpetuity. The naval station is there to defend Cuba from European invasion which is a reasonable concern in 1903. [16]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1903, Wikipedia.

Monday, November 21, 2016

History: The Year is 1902

I've uploaded year 1902 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Disasters Come in Threes or Maybe Fours if You Count Elections -- Volcanoes blow up and despite adequate warning, no one is evacuated ahead of time because an election is going on.

Striking for a Middle Ground -- The coal miners strike just about kills the hard-coal industry, but President T. Roosevelt negotiates peace.

Notable Births -- Charles Lindbergh, Felix Wankel and Mortimer J. Adler.

In Other News -- Ragtime, Peter Rabbit, and the Teddy Bear.

Disasters Come in Threes or Maybe Fours if You Count Elections

Severe flooding in Guatemala leaves 80,000 homeless. Then they are hit by a 7.5 magnitude earthquake, killing 2,000. At about the same time, two volcanoes in the Caribbean rumble to life. The first volcano is located on the island of Saint Vincent which is the location of the largest population of Carib Indians... or at least it was until now. The volcano explodes, killing 1,680. They had no chance. The second volcano is called Mount Pelée, also known as "Fire Mountain", located on the island of Martinique. The city of Saint-Pierre is situated on the coast nearby. The volcano erupts, sending a cloud of super-heated gases flowing into Saint-Pierre and across the small bay to engulf the ships at anchor. A telegraph operator reports that all is well. It is his last transmission. A handful of people survive the disaster: a prisoner being held in a poorly ventilated cell, a girl who rows her boat into a cave, and a baby and her nurse who manage to live while their ship bursts into flames and sinks. An estimated 30,000 people are dead within minutes. One wonders if all of it could have been avoided. The answer is yes. A lot of it, anyway. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Why didn't more people evacuate and why were those ships still at anchor so close to shore? The reason was POLITICS! The island Governor of Martinique was up for reelection, and he needed to give the voters a reason to stay. The volcano had been making unusual noises for a while, and the sulfur smell had become unbearable. Farm animals were dropping dead. The citizens had every indication that they should evacuate, so to ease the anxiety of the people, the Governor appointed a commission to judge whether the volcano posed an immediate threat. The report they returned said, "...the safety of St Pierre is completely assured." (I feel better already.) People WANTED it to be OK, and what if the volcano had NOT exploded? What then? It could have been embarrassing. Eh? That is why I practice embarrassing myself. I do a few harmless things that make people laugh, like facing the wrong way in an elevator, raising my hand to ask a dumb question. When my wife asks me if that dress makes her look fat, I tell her... oh... wait... scratch that one. What I'm saying is, be your own captain. Sometimes you will make the wrong decision, or the right decision that turns out to be a reaction to a false alarm. Own it. You are just doing your job as best you can. Someday, the people you love will thank you for it... that is... if you all live through it.

Striking for a Middle Ground

Strike violence has been kept to a minimum until now. John Mitchell, the president of the United Mine Workers of America is willing to compromise for a 10% raise and reduced work hours, but the owner's representative, George Baer, sees his willingness as a weakness. The owners hold fast. The coal miner's strike turns ugly when they catch the police attempting to smuggle a scab into the railroad yard. The policemen blockade themselves in a locomotive, but a by-stander attempting to help the police is clubbed to death. The police fire into the mob, and get away. This has to stop. Years ago, President Cleveland, a Democrat, would have sent Federal troops against the strikers. A couple of years ago, the Republicans strong-armed the owners into concessions to end a strike. Not this time. Powerless to force compliance on either side, President Theodore Roosevelt goes on the campaign trail. He gives speeches with strong statements that are sure to be quoted by the press, but immediately follows them by partial retractions. Thus if you read the headlines, you have one impression, but if you read the text of his speeches, you have another. As union violence escalates, the governor of Pennsylvania is forced to do something drastic. He issues a shoot-to-kill order. (No kidding.) With winter approaching, the need for coal is placing pressure on President Roosevelt. He brings the union and the owners together. By clever language, and without recognizing the United Mine Workers as official negotiators, the union gets most of its demands met. This is the first time that the US government has acted as a neutral party to end a strike. [3] [4] [5]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
A lot was going on that is not apparent. Roosevelt was confined to a wheelchair during negotiations which kept him from beating up one of the owners. Was a physical fight a possibility? Yes it was. There had already been a physical fight between an owner and the Attorney General. (They met by chance. There was some drinking involved, and loud talk. The Attorney General lost a few buttons, and it was over.) Regarding the union strategy, the United Mine Workers had convinced the (bituminous) soft-coal miners to go back to work. That left the (anthracite) hard-coal mines shutdown. This is tricky, but the coal grates used for heating were designed for either hard coal or soft. A conversion could be performed, and many customers were converting over to soft coal which was slightly less expensive. Given that three-fourths of the UMW members were soft-coal miners, the union had the power to kill off the hard-coal industry, and still keep most of their members happy... delirious, in fact. The owners were in a bad position and they knew it, but when offered a face-saving alternative, they took it. [6] [7]

Notable Births

  • Charles Lindbergh (He will fly the Spirit of St. Louis across the Atlantic, solo.... and there is more... much more.) [8]
  • Felix Wankel (He will invent the Wankel Engine. It will catch on after Mazda buys it and die after Mazda drops it.) [9]
  • Mortimer J. Adler (He will edit Encyclopedia Britannica, bringing education within easy grasp of all... which is why John Dewey will HATE HIS GUTS! Learning should be HARD! Right?) [10]

In Other News

  • Beatrix Potter's "Peter Rabbit" is a storybook hit! And so are the stuffed rabbits! The book will be one of the best sellers of all time. [14]
  • The Teddy Bear is born. Two German toy makers name their new stuffed bear after Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt HATES the name, but the public goes wild! [15]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1902, Wikipedia.

Friday, November 18, 2016

History: The Year is 1901

I've uploaded year 1901 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Here Comes the Campbell Duck -- Mrs. Campbell was trying to produce a good meat duck and bred a massive egg layer instead.

Theodore Rex is Loose in the Paddock! -- The President is dead, and Theodore Roosevelt is exactly the worst possible person to take the reigns right now.

The Righteous Fists of Heaven Go Down Hard -- The Empress wants the head of the Boxer rebels, so she can get the Eight-Nation Alliance off her back.

In Other News -- Marconi radio, U.S. Steel, Dr. Alzheimer, and the electric vacuum cleaner.

Here Comes the Campbell Duck

All Mrs. Campbell wanted was a good meat bird to feed her family. Ducks seemed like a good choice, so she crossed a Fawn-and-White Indian Runner with a Rouen. That did the trick. (This is like crossing a long distance runner with a ball player from Ole Miss. What you get is a short Michael Oher that can lay 300 eggs a year.) At this time, a duck's color is important, so she breeds her new Campbell duck with a Pencil Runner to give it a buff color similar to the uniform of a British soldier. (This sounds like a load of hooey. Say nothing. Let's move on.) She names it The Khaki Campbell. Egg production is high, but they are not good brooders. (That means they don't like sitting around keeping their eggs warm, but if all you want are eggs for breakfast, you are solid.) Adel Campbell introduces her new breed to the English public this year. They won't come to the United States for another 20 years. Their popularity will soar in the 1970s along with a back-to-the-farm craze. They will become popular with the Asian community as well. [1] [2] [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
I don't recall a back-to-the-farm craze in the 1970s. I recall a "I-don't-want-to-take-a-BATH-any-more" craze, but that was short-lived. The statistics on this particular duck are impressive. Incubation takes 23 to 28 days. They reach maturity in 7 months. An adult weighs in at about 3 to 5 pounds. Also, in researching this topic I noticed that retired people enjoy raising this duck. How do I know this? Because they mention the frickin' ducks in their obituary! How many times have you seen this line in an obituary: "And she loved raising her 17 Khaki Campbells." If a bunch of old people think that chasing these ducks around the yard is a reasonable thing to do, who am I to argue? I have seen warnings that certain crossbreeds of Campbells do not lay well. A word to the wise is sufficient.

Theodore Rex is Loose in the Paddock!

President McKinley has won a second term, but the Wall Street manipulators are crushing the hopes of the little guy! (Uh... yeah. The Panic of 1901 is in full swing, but the solution of the nihilist/anarchists is crazy!) McKinley's secretary has expressed his worry that the recent rash of assassinations in Europe might come to America, but the President refuses to change his schedule. (After all, if we change what we are doing, the terrorists win. Right?... Wait... What?) McKinley delivers his speech as scheduled, and steps down to greet the crowd. A second-generation Polish-American shoots him in the abdomen with a .32 Iver Johnson revolver, the gun "safe enough for a baby to handle," as the advertising goes. The doctors cannot find the bullet and since no antibiotics exist, the President succumbs to infection. Theodore Roosevelt is President of the United States and a Republican. He is an exciting guy. People love his energy, but he is the guy who said that he will "speak softly, but carry a big stick". Wherever will he lead us? [5] [6]
"Roosevelt's all right, but he's got no more use for the Constitution than a tomcat has for a marriage license."
--Joseph G. Cannon, Republican and Speaker of the House. [7]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
In the early years of the 20th century, the Vice-Presidency is where you sideline political liabilities, and Theodore "TR" Roosevelt is a very big liability. He is personally brave, charming to women and inspiring to men. He is the very best that the 19th century has to offer, which is the problem. He will do things differently simply to blaze a new trail. He will impose his will on others not because he has a desire to dominate. He believes that his way is best, and it is his noble obligation to lead. In the modern day we would call him an elitist, but he doesn't think he is better than others. He knows it. This sort of attitude can be helpful to society in many ways, but obviously destructive in other ways. Roosevelt prefers to be called "TR" or simply, "The Colonel". If you call him "Teddy" you will regret it. He is a Republican Progressive at a time when the word "progressive" is a good word. He doesn't just want fair play. He wants to change the rules to make sure it comes out that way. So now we march into the future with a dynamic and inspiring Republican President who knows what is best for us and will make sure we get it, good and hard. Wait... I was talking about Roosevelt. Right? Just checking. [8]

The Righteous Fists of Heaven Go Down Hard

The Chinese Boxer Rebellion is complicated, so let me say this.... if you ever have a sudden urge to fight for God and expect the Multitudes of Heaven to lend their swords to your righteous cause .... have a beer and re-think that one for a while. It is called the Boxer Rebellion by the English because it is led by young martial artists that the English call "Boxers". Their exact name translates as "The Righteous and Harmonious Fists". They are pretty good fighters, but invincible they are not. They are sick of the China's modernization, the Christian missionaries, and with the recent drought, they are flocking to the cities for food. On the other hand, the Boxer's solution to China's growing pains is to chop the Christians into bok choy. The reaction of the Christian nations is naturally... severe. The Eight-Nation Alliance is leaning hard on the Empress. The Alliance has taken Beijing, and while their ultimate success is far from guaranteed, the Empress is not an idiot. By decree of the Empress, the life of anyone associated with the Boxers is now forfeit. Heads will roll... quite literally. The Boxers are going down hard, but the consequences of this rebellion will be playing out for years to come. [9] [10] [11]

In Other News

  • Marconi receives a radio signal from across the Atlantic. Trans-Atlantic wireless is here! [12]
  • J. P. Morgan founds U.S. Steel. It starts with 1.4 billion dollars. (That is almost 40 billion in 2015 dollars.) [12] [13]
  • Dr. Alzheimer diagnoses a strange dementia in a patient. Yes. It is Alzheimer's Disease. [14]
  • The electric vacuum cleaner is patented. All vacuum cleaners will be based on this design. [15]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1901, Wikipedia.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

History: The Year is 1900

I've uploaded year 1900 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Century That Was -- This is the century on review.

In Other News -- The Galveston Hurricane, Sigmund Freud, quantum theory and Albert Einstein gets a job in a patent office.

The Century That Was

As we look back, we see images through a broken mirror. The beauty can be breathtaking, but ugly mosaics of monstrous proportion draw our attention away. I'm willing to praise the praiseworthy and condemn the guilty, but I am not the final judge. Here we go. [1]
  • Thomas Jefferson is President. DuPont's powder mill is a booming success. The US buys the Louisiana Territory and Louis and Clarke set out to discover what Jefferson bought. The USS Philadelphia burns as the long fight with Arab states begins. Napoleon imposes the Napoleonic Code on Europe. He is defeated at Waterloo, but his code remains because it makes too much sense.
  • Mr. Madison starts the War of 1812 over a misunderstanding, so the British make themselves understood by burning down Washington D.C..
  • There is the Panic of 1819, 1825, 1837, 1857, Black Friday, and the First Great Depression. (I think I missed one.)
  • The Missouri Compromise establishes an uncomfortable truce between slave and non-slave states.
  • Religion undergoes a second revolution. The Mormons are persecuted. The Jews are freed. The YMCA brings the Bible to the young working man.
  • Charles Babbage designs the 1st computer. The DC motor, sewing machines, and the raincoat are invented.
  • The Texas Revolution begins. Remember the Alamo.
  • Samuel Colt patents his revolver. (Some assembly required.)
  • There are telegraph wires across the Atlantic... and then... no wires at all.
  • The Supreme Court decides that slaves are not people. Ex-slaves ARE people, but not equal people. Then they are equal people, but only as SEPARATE people. Also, tomatoes are a vegetable. No word yet on whether ex-slaves are tomatoes.
  • In a Trail of Tears, the Indians are forced out of Georgia. Custer is massacred. The Indians are massacred, but they can still join Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Tickets on sale now. (Dear God, I wish I was kidding, but its true.)
  • The commercialization of Santa begins. Groundhog Day. Labor Day. Thanksgiving, and just when you thought it couldn't get any worse... here comes the Polka.
  • The California Gold Rush begins.
  • "Uncle Tom's Cabin" portrays slave owners as Christ-killers. The "Christ-killers" get upset. Senator Sumner is beaten with a cane. Abraham Lincoln wins the election. The South secedes from the Union. It's war. Grant wins at Shiloh. Sherman marches through Georgia. He is sick of war. Gettysburg is awash in tears. "Four score and seven years ago..." and then Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrenders. It takes longer for the rest of the South to surrender. Lincoln is shot and a cycle of renewal is cut short. We are lost.
  • Darwin's "Origin of Species" makes a big impact. The Suez Canal is built. The Planet Vulcan is discovered. The safety elevator, escalator and linoleum are invented. So is the Gatling Gun. It is supposed to end all fighting. It certainly does that for anyone standing in front of it.
  • Alaska is going, going... SOLD! It is now a US territory.
  • President Andrew Johnson is impeached for firing one of his cabinet members.
  • The transcontinental railroad is finished. Standard Oil is established. Adolf Coors buys the formula for a Pilsner beer and Budweiser is a hit.
  • Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone.
  • Mutual Benefit Societies are established.
  • Edison invents the phonograph, the light bulb and he is promoting DC current.
  • P.T. Barnum starts a circus.
  • The 4-stroke engine is introduced. The first automobile is built. Dunlop pneumatic tires, the Bosch ignition system and the Diesel engine are invented.
  • The second scientific revolution begins when it is proven that there is no "ether" carrying light waves along.
  • George Eastman introduces the "Kodak" box camera and roll-up film. The film industry is born.
  • The Plague bacillus is discovered, and heavier-than-air flight is proven impossible.
Now it is a race between the Europeans and the United States to scoop up all the territories from the lesser people... just to help them out, you see. Everyone seems to be walking through dreamland, and it is going to take a "War of the Worlds" event to wake everyone up. It's coming. It's coming.
The entire world is changing... again.

In Other News

  • The Galveston Hurricane hits hard. There are not enough people left to bury the dead so they start cremation. [2]
  • Sigmund Freud publishes "The Interpretation of Dreams". Interpreting dreams can be tricky because "...sometimes a cigar is just a cigar." [3]
  • Max Planck formulates quantum theory. This is the idea that an electron exists within zones of probability. It's complicated. [4]
  • Albert Einstein is working in a patent office. He is also working on his PhD. thesis. [3]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1900, Wikipedia.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

History: The Year is 1899

I've uploaded year 1899 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

Education as a Means for Social Change -- John Dewey begins publication of a series of books that will define the educational system of the USA into the modern day.

The Philippine-American War and a Silent Shame -- The USA is gathering up Islands. I talk about the growing western bigotry and Planned Parenthood.

Notable Births -- Humphrey Bogart, Alfred Hitchcock and Friedrich Hayek.

In Other News -- Aspirin, Nippon Electric Company (NEC) and the Nome Gold Rush.

Education as a Means for Social Change

It may seem insignificant at first. A book on educational theory is published by John Dewey this year entitled "The School and Society", but his books will present a unified theme that will guide our educational system into the modern day. Dewey builds on the original goals of Horace Mann to bring education to the masses in order to promote social efficiency, civic virtue, and to build character. These are worthy goals, but Mann never really defined what a civic virtue was. Dewey believes that socialism is a progressive virtue that all good parents of a sensible and wise nature would wish for their children. Since an efficient democracy requires that the best virtues should be taught in schools, naturally whatever lessons the lesser parents might want taught to their children is irrelevant. The smart, educated professionals will choose the proper curriculum on their behalf. It is all for the best. (Can you say "Common Core?" I knew that you could.) [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Horace Mann may have laid the foundation for the US educational system, but John Dewey built the liberal schoolhouse on top of it. I don't like Dewey, but I don't want to dump all over him either. He was a sincere man. He lived during a time when socialism was viewed as a scientific social experiment. It looked good on paper, but no one had given it a real try. Now, after all the years of failure and the murder of millions, it is a wonder that anyone would be willing to give it another go. Socialism is not another name for Facebook or Twitter. True socialism means the Nazis, Stalin, Mao, and that little guy who is still running North Korea. He likes basketball, so apparently, that made it OK when he sentenced Kenneth Bae to 15 years hard labor for attempting to overthrow the government. Bae is a Christian missionary, and the Bible is obviously a subversive document to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Bae fell ill and was released in November of 2014. [3] [2]

The Philippine-American War and a Silent Shame

The Filipinos have been in rebellion against the Spanish occupation for several years now, but then a misunderstanding occurs when the rebel leader in exile is talking to Admiral George Dewey (no relation to John Dewey, the educator). The Admiral seems to be encouraging him to return to Manila and lead his troops to victory. One might also think that the United States was offering support for the rebels against Spain. This misunderstanding leads to further misunderstandings which leads naturally to the invasion of Manila after the United States had already signed a peace agreement with Spain! It is a little embarrassing, but it could happen to any country... except that the US annexed Hawaii last year, and had long since taken control of the Midway Atoll under the authority of the Guano Act. (No joke.) Wake Island was just sitting there! And then there was the Spanish-American War, and the aforementioned peace agreement in which Spain handed over Puerto Rico and Guam. Now the USA is invading the Philippines to protect it, you see. Greedy Europeans might take advantage of the poor Filipinos after the withdrawal of Spain. (I wish I were kidding. They actually thought this.) Granted, there could have been a misunderstanding somewhere, and frankly, the Europeans might very well have invaded if the USA had not. Nevertheless, the final decision to invade the Philippines is just what it looks like, the US annexation of the Philippines. This is war and the Filipinos are really torqued off. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
This all sounds awful because it is. If you have been following the history segments you have noticed a gradual change in the attitude of Europeans and the USA beginning with the partitioning of the African continent. (You can't leave all those diamonds laying around. Some poor native might trip!) There was a growing sense of the superiority of the white race (if such a thing exists) that went beyond bigotry. It was considered science. It was also eugenics which means "well-born" or "good breeding". I doubt that the Black-Lives-Matter protestors of today are aware of such attitudes in the closing days of the 19th century, but they probably suspect that something has been covered up, because it has. Hitler's murder of millions for the sake of eugenics caused the advocates to go silent. The original role of Margaret Sanger's "Planned Parenthood" was to keep down the number of black babies born. She didn't want black people breeding because then the country would have a much larger population of black people, and what would we be then? Honest. We would be honest, Margaret. And we would figure it out from there. [2]

Notable Births

  • Humphrey Bogart (Film actor and husband of Lauren Bacall) You DOG! [9]
  • Alfred Hitchcock (Director of films like "The Birds" and "Psycho") [10]
  • Friedrich Hayek (Author of "The Road to Serfdom") [11]

In Other News

  • Bayer markets aspirin. If they had invented this drug today it would STILL be waiting for FDA approval. [2]
  • Nippon Electric Company (NEC) markets telephones. It is the first joint venture between a Japanese and American company. NEC will start building computers in 1980. [2]
  • The Nome Gold Rush begins. With the Klondike gold rush winding down, there are gold nuggets in Nome, Alaska that you can scoop off the beach. [2]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1899, Wikipedia.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

History: The Year is 1898

I've uploaded year 1898 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The War of the Worlds and the End of History -- We are at the apex of the history cycle and the people think that they have things all figured out so H.G. Wells kicks them in the backside.

"Remember the Maine! To Hell with Spain!" -- The USS Maine explodes in Havana Harbor. The Spanish-American War ensues.

In Other News -- Shroud of Turin, women in combat, Marie Curie, and the Zepplin

The War of the Worlds and the End of History

We are at the apex of a major cycle of history. Historians call this phenomenon "the end of history" meaning that the current generation thinks it has the whole world figured out. For example, the United Kingdom has grown from 1.5 million square miles in 1800 into a global empire of 11 million square miles. They figure they are doing something right, but an "end of history" implies that the situation will last forever (like when politicians claim they have ended the business cycle). Deterioration follows and eventually the conquerors become the conquered because they no longer believe that they have the moral right to defend themselves. The worst can be avoided if people are paying attention, so to get their attention, H. G. Wells publishes, War of the Worlds. The Martians invade Earth and wipe out millions with a heat ray. Although it is a great story, there is a philosophical undercurrent. Religion is portrayed as a comfort to the mindless. (In the movie, War of the Worlds 2005, the mindless clergyman is replaced by a mindless survivalist.) Then the comfort of the military is overturned by the technical innovations of the Martians. Unfortunately, the public refuses to wake up. 19th century blind optimism is about to hit the brick wall of the 20th century. [1]
"...across the gulf of space, ... intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment."
--The War of the Worlds, Book 1, Chapter 1. [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
16 years later, World War 1 began. They called it The Great War or The War to End All Wars, but countries used the war to send their undesirables into a meat-grinder. By the end of the war, cynicism reigned. What were the first signs of deterioration? The bicycle, the electric light and the telephone. The leap in technology was like "the Martians landing." With freedom of movement and communication, parents lost control of the next generation. The electric light allowed a night life to develop and cities gave young people anonymity. We dream of the good old days when the world was a better place, but that world only exists in our minds. Our parents were struggling to adjust to change just as we struggle today. We can dream, but there is no going back. The way out is forward... as always. [3]

"Remember the Maine! To Hell with Spain!"

Theodore "TR" Roosevelt is the Assistant Secretary of the Navy and he wants to kick Spain out of Cuba. He also wants to kick Great Britain out of Canada! (Smile politely. Say nothing and walk away.) TR has devised several plans for the Navy in case the Cuban break from Spain spins out of control, but he foreign policy of the United States is to do as little as possible for as long as possible. Yet, near the end of January, the USS Maine is sent to Havana... just in case. Everything is fine until February 15th when a massive explosion pushes the keel of the Maine above the waterline, and into the bridge. (It is forgivable if you shout something inappropriate right now.) Three-fourths of the crew are killed instantly. The "yellow journalist", William Randolph Hearst, has been faking up lurid stories to build readership and to create a war in Cuba. (See the movie, "Wag the Dog".) The official investigation blames a submarine mine for the explosion. Later theories blame firedamp which is the off-gassing from a type of coal fuel. By April, the Spanish-American War is on. TR resigns his post and forms the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. The press calls them "The Rough Riders". TR leads his men across open ground to take Kettle Hill (often misreported as San Juan Hill). TR will receive the Medal of Honor, posthumously in 2001, for his actions in that battle. [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Did Theodore Roosevelt deserve the Medal of Honor? I think not, but he never said that he did. He gave effusive praise to Parker for his skillful use of the Gatling Gun to back them up. He was brave, no doubt, but the press blew it all out of proportion. It is difficult to explain why TR wanted a war with Spain, but the idea fit in well with his 19th century adventurer personality. He should have been a naturalist, but in those days (and this is going to sound ridiculous) the country was focused on what we would call lesser government corruption like giving minor jobs to friends or trash pickup issues. TR got caught up in political reform and made a name for himself. He became Vice President and then President after McKinley was assassinated by an anarchist. (Anarchists got a very bad name due to a series of spectacular assassinations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.) [9]

In Other News

  • The negative of the Shroud of Turin is made. You've seen the picture a hundred times. [10]
  • Annie Oakley promotes women in combat. She suggests that women sharpshooters could aid in the Spanish-American War. [11]
  • Pierre and Marie Curie discover radium. Marie Curie will become the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize. [11]
  • Ferdinand von Zeppelin builds his airship. Several gasbags in a thin-skinned framework are used to push people around... sort of like Congress. [11]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1898, Wikipedia.

History: The Year is 1897

I've uploaded year 1897 to the TSP Wiki...

Here are some one liners...

The Flight of the Eagle and the Lost Expedition -- This is a different angle on the same event mentioned in the previous episode.

Tesla and the Westinghouse Compromise -- I've talked before about AC power and how Tesla sold the patents to Westinghouse for a song. It was still a substantial sum.

In Other News -- The Invisible Man, the Zionist Congress and Alfred Dreyfus is not guilty.

The Flight of the Eagle and the Lost Expedition

(This is a repeat of Journey to the Center of the a Balloon that began in 1896.)
The plan is simple. Fill a balloon with hydrogen and climb into the gondola. Drag weighted ropes along the ice to steer the balloon. Within 48 hours they should reach the North Pole and a few days later they should be in China... or maybe Alaska. Simple. But in exploration, all simple things are difficult. Minutes after launch of The Eagle, the Swedish scientist, S. A. Andrée, and two colleagues are lost from sight. Ten hours after that, a storm kicks up and they lose all but one of their "navigation ropes." The Eagle is hundreds of miles off course and it is dragging along the ice. Sixty-five hours into the flight, the balloon is done, but the men are not. For the next 2 months, they make their way across the shifting pack ice while dragging sleds filled with supplies. Then they reach White Island... and die. The supplies remain: tents and stoves and fuel. They know they will never be rescued, but if their goal was to lay down and die, they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble much earlier. Why did they give up the ghost on White Island? The clues are: a dead bear, a diary, and photos. [1] [2]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Over the years, reports of Andrée and his party popping up in remote villages proliferated like Elvis sightings. A message buoy from his expedition was found with no message. It was the one designated to be dropped at the North Pole. People held out hope, but in 1930, an expedition discovered two bodies in a tent, frozen solid. A name was on the jacket. It was Andrée. Putting the clues together: they reached White Island and killed a polar bear for food. Unfortunately, they were in the habit of eating raw bear meat. They developed the runs and in their weakened state, they finally succumbed. They had made mistakes all along the way, such as never having flown a such a large balloon before and never under rainy, freezing conditions. Their bodies were returned to Sweden and honored as great explorers. In the modern day, they are seen as foolish risk-takers, but in those days, foolish risk-taking was the rule. It is better to draw our lessons based on principle. The lesson is... know your equipment and test it before you need it to save your life... and don't eat raw bear.

Tesla and the Westinghouse Compromise

Tesla once worked for Edison, but after Edison broke his promises, Tesla quit. He dug ditches for a while, but eventually found his way to more lucrative employment. He negotiated to sell his patents to George Westinghouse for his AC motor and other alternating current applications, but it hasn't worked out. Westinghouse is on the brink of bankruptcy, so this year he tells Tesla that he can't pay what he promised. Tesla sells the patents to Westinghouse for a song. This song is still fairly expensive... $216,000 which is about 5.4 million in 2015 dollars, but if you held lightening in your hands, how much would you charge? (In case you are humor impaired, that was a pun.) Westinghouse surges forward. Edison's direct current (DC) generators require booster stations every few miles, but the oscillating nature of AC current allows longer transmission distances without a booster station. DC is more useful and safer, but the infrastructure required would be very expensive for cities to build out. AC current is cheaper to build out, but it has its problems (serious problems initially). The first is to settle on the AC frequency or cycles. Currently they are stringing separate lines for each frequency needed. They settle on 60 hertz as the standard. Europe uses 50 hertz which is why one needs a converter to use electric devices when traveling from the USA to Europe. [3] [4]
My Take by Alex Shrugged
Tesla's alternate current (AC) generators are on display at the Smithsonian, yet Tesla is not credited with inventing them. It is part of the Edison exhibit. Many, if not most, motor vehicles have an alternator to generate electricity in their cars and Tesla’s induction motor runs most washing machines (or an ancestor of his induction motor). Like gasoline, AC current is inherently dangerous, but if we use care, it is also a lot more economical and efficient. Every new technology is a balance in several directions. Usually engineers summarize the balance as: fast, cheap or good. Choose any two. You can't have it all. I was watching a commercial for a new luxury car. They expressed their "absolute commitment" to several ideals in engineering and the environment. It sounded fabulous, but I quickly realized that if they had the "absolute commitment" they professed, they couldn't have made the automobile in the first place. At some point we must make a compromise or we could never build anything at all.

In Other News

  • The Invisible Man is published by H. G. Wells. A scientist changes the refractive nature of matter to make himself invisible, but cannot reverse the process. [5]
  • Proof is found that Alfred Dreyfus is not guilty of treason. Someone needed a scapegoat. Captain Dreyfus was Jewish and easy to defame. [5]
  • The Zionist Congress meets in Switzerland. This secular movement to find a homeland for the Jews is fueled by "The Dreyfus Affair" which has become a world-wide controversy. [5] [5] [6]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1897, Wikipedia.