A Franklin for You!

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"Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?
“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Sherman My Boy, let’s head back to take a look at the achievements of Benjamin Franklin.”

 

April 14, 1775: Benjamin Franklin is The Most Interesting Man in the World!

April-14-1775-Benjamin-Franklin-The-Most-Interesting-Man-World

WABAC to…..

On April 14, 1775, Benjamin Franklin along with Benjamin Rush founded the first abolitionist society in the US, The Society For the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage. Apparently, in those days catchy acronyms were not the style!


Interesting HOW? Spend 40 minutes & find out for yourself……

Ben Franklin was a man of such a variety of talents and involved in so many things we have to call him The Most Interesting Man in the World!

Born in 1706 in Boston, Franklin worked as a young man as a printer.  When only 15 he scored his first of many major firsts, in this case founding the country’s first independent newspaper.  A man of science and letters, Franklin was an accomplished writer and inventor while also being politically and socially active, serving as a political writer (Poor Richard’s Almanac), ambassador to France, and influential member of the Founding Fathers that set up the war for independence and the framing of the constitution.

Outgoing and popular, Franklin was not an ideal family man, but he sure was popular with the ladies!  Famous for one or more illegitimate children, Franklin also gave us the pot-bellied or Franklinstove, bifocal eyeglasses, perfected the lightning rod, founded the first circulating public library, started the first post office, experimented with electricity and served as the first Postmaster General of the US. Franklin even invented a nifty musical instrument called the Glass Armonica!

Franklin also studied ocean currents, the nature of light, the effects of evaporation on cooling, weather patterns, various factors effecting electrical transmission, population growth rates, and he even invented the process by which a decision can be logically arrived at by listing the Pros and Consin two columns.  Aside from the abolitionist society he also founded other societies and created the first public fire department!

Although Franklin did own slaves, he did free them and campaign for the abolition of slavery. He also was an advocate of freedom of religion, although he may well have been an atheist himself.

Ben Franklin helped draft the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, so in a way you can say he also invented the United States!  All these things listed here are but an incomplete list of Franklin’s accomplishments, and for absolutely fascinating reading we encourage you to look into this amazing man’s life in more detail.

Pictured on our $100 bill (and formerly on the half-dollar coin), Franklin is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, American of all time, and deserving of the title, The Most Interesting Man in the World!

A Franklin for You!

WABAC to Ancient Greece

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The WABAC Machine

"Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Let’s go back to ancient Greece, Sherman My Boy,  when planets were immortalized and made Gods.”

Awesome Greek Gods You’ve Never Heard Of

Most of us have heard of famous Greek Gods such as Zeus and Apollo a well as demi-gods  such as Heracles and Perseus and many others from myths and legends. Their stories move the imagination and have captivated people for thousands of years. However, there are many lesser-known Greek Gods that are just as interesting, sometimes even more so, than the popular kids.

10. Astra Planeti

astra-planeti

The Astra Planeti are the Gods of the wandering planets. Stilbon is known as the “Sky God,” and presides over the wandering planet Mercury. Eosphorus is also known as Phosphorus and is the God of Venus during the morning; however, Venus also has a God specifically for the evening star, known as Hesperus. The other two are Pyroeis, the God of Mars andPhaeton, the God of Jupiter, who is believed to have been fathered by the great God Apollo. Legend has it that Phaeton is unsure of who sired him and, believing it is the God Helios, attempts to drive his fiery chariot to prove his birthright. Unfortunately, it looks to Zeus as if he may crash and cause great harm to Earth, so Zeus destroys him with a well-placed thunderbolt.

9. Chiron

Chiron

While some may debate Chiron’s status as a Greek God, he was much more than just a centaur in Greek Mythology. In most legends, Centaurs were crude, violent, barbaric people who drank way too much liquor and were considered uncultured. However, Chiron was wise, civilized and, according to legends, didn’t even have any relation to the other centaurs in the world. Some legends claim he is the son of the God Cronus, who had sex with a woman while in the shape of a horse. Further, Chiron was said to be immortal, but willingly rescinded his own immortality in order to die. Some believe that he then became one of the constellations; however, there is some debate as to whether that constellation is Centaurus or Sagittarius.

8. Dionysus

Dionysus

In Greek lore, Dionysus is the God who oversees booze, being responsible for a good grape harvest, and making wine in general. He is also considered the God of Ecstasy. More interestingly, he had a human mother and was the only Greek God in such a position who was ever allowed into Mt. Olympus. Many credit the booze festivals celebrated in his name as helping create the Greek theater. Also, he was destroyed by the Titans but returned to life later, which has made him an example in legend of death and rebirth.

7. Demeter

demeter

The story of Demeter says that her daughter Persephone was taken by Hades and forced to live with him as his wife in the underworld. When this happened, Demeter, who was responsible for the growth of life on Earth and the harvest, stopped doing her job while looking for her daughter. Zeus saw this problem, and had Hermes command Hades to let Persephone go. Before she went, Hades gave her a pomegranate. After eating it, she had to return once a year. Whenever Persephone was in the underworld, her mother did not let anything grow, and that is the Greek explanation for how winter came to be.

6. The Horae

Horae


The Horae: The Greeks had a God for pretty much everything, and the seasons and even the hours were no exception. These Greek Goddesses presided over the seasons, and also helped keep the stars and constellations properly in line. The three well-known ones were: Eunomia who helped keep things in good order; Dike, who represented Justice; and Eirene, who presided over Spring. Interestingly though, the Greeks only had three seasons: spring, summer and winter. These Goddesses not only controlled the seasons, but also kept society stable in general. The Greeks also had another set of deities who represented all twelve hours of the day.

5. The Judges of the Dead

Judges-of-the-dead

The Judges of the Dead: The Greeks had three Gods — Aeacus, Minos and Rhadamanthus– whose sole job was tojudge those who had died, usually deciding upon their punishment as well. According to legend, they were originally men but were related to Zeus. Zeus is said to have credited them with law and order on Earth while human, so when they died they were made demigods and allowed to preside over much of the underworld. Aeacus was supposed to be the one who judged souls who came from Europe, and Rhadamanthus judged those who came from the continent of Asia. Their fellow judge Minos had the final vote in all cases. While we know that after death they guarded Hades, there is little known about what happened during their lives on Earth.

4. Hecate

hecate

Hecate is a fascinating Goddess from ancient Greek lore, usually associated with witchcraft, necromancy, the Moon, and pretty much all other similar subjects. Legend says that Hecate assisted Demeter when she was searching the Earth for her daughter Persephone, before she found out that she had been taken by Hades. For this reason, Hecate is often pictured holding two torches. Strangely enough, she has seen a sort of revival today, with many Wiccans worshipping her as a Goddess. Hecate is also known for having three distinct selves and is thus often shown in “triple form,” she is known as being a “mistress of animals.”

3. Anemoi

Tower-of-the-Winds

The Anemoi are one of the coolest sets of Gods in Greek mythology. The Greeks believed that all of the winds had a distinct personality, and assigned each of them a separate God. The Gods are Zephyros of the west wind, Euros of the east, Boreas of the north, and Notos of the south wind. Sometimes in the stories, the Anemoi look like men with enormous wingspans; other times, they are shown in the form of incredible horses of breathtaking majesty. Sometimes the Anemoi were represented as being controlled by Aiolos, who was known as the “Horse Reiner” and had the ability to control the wind Gods to unleash horrible storms whenever the Gods wanted him to. The God Euros, associated with the East wind, was often believed to be a sign of bad luck.

2. Tartarus

tartarus

While some may not consider Tartarus a God, but more of a place, Tartarus is considered in Greek mythology to be a primordial God. In other words, he is essentially a concept that has had a deity created for it. Tartarus is considered to be way down below the Earth, surrounded by a great wall of bronze. Usually Hades is the main place for punishment, with Tartarus being reserved for the Titans, but in some later myths it becomes more of a general place of punishment. Tartarus is the place where all of the Titans where imprisoned after Zeus defeated them and took over. The great God Uranus also utilized Tartarus, sending some of his children down to the pit because he believed that they could potentially defeat him someday.

1. Morpheus

Morpheus

When most people hear the name Morpheus, they think of the character from The Matrix. However, Morpheus is actually one of the coolest Greek Gods ever. Morpheus was originally a child created by the original night Goddess, Nyx. However, along with several others, he worked for the head God of sleep, Hypnos, which is the root word behind hypnosis. It is said that Morpheus looked up to Hypos as if he were his father. Morpheus was the head God of dreams, and was sent as a messenger in the dreams of mortal men when the Gods needed to give them important information. Some people believe that when Agamemnon had a dream with a message from Zeus himself, it was Morpheus who wassent to deliver it.

 

WABAC to Ancient Greece

PEABODY AND SHERMAN

Big Bang for Our Bucks

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"Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Set the WABAC for 1914 and the building of the Panama Canal, Sherman My Boy.”

10 Great American Construction Projects

10-Great-American-Construction-Projects

Looking back…

On March 27, 1975, work began on the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.  More than just an 800 mile 48 inch diameter pipe, the vast system includes 11 pumping stations and hundreds of miles of smaller pipes that feed the big pipe.  The US has undertaken many great construction projects, and here we list 10 of them.  We would like to know what projects you think should have been on this list and which should not have.


Digging, building, blasting…..

10. Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.

Overcoming objections by environmentalists and working in the frozen north presented quite a task.  Cracked fact: Native Americans had mined crude oil from peat soaked in oil for hundreds of years on Alaska’s North Slope.  Running from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, the pipeline pumps up to 2.1 million barrels of oil per day.  Objections by Native Alaskans were apparently relegated to second class status after the frightening economic results of the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo. Completed in 1977, projections are that less than 500,000 barrels of oil per day will be flowing through the pipeline by 2015.

9. Mount Rushmore.

Sculptures cut into the rock of a mountain face depicting 4 of our presidents with 60 foot tall heads makes this masterpiece the largest sculpture of heads in the world. Construction ran from 1927 until completion in 1941, with the original sculptor, Gutzon Borglum dying in March 1941 only months before the project was done. Borglum’s son, Lincoln, supervised the completion of the memorial. Located in South Dakota, Mount Rushmore is the state’s number one tourist attraction (in a state where tourism is the second biggest industry) with 2 to 3 million visitors per year.  The presidents depicted on the sculpture are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt. Cracked fact: The sculptures were planned to show the presidents from the waist up, but time and money ran short, leaving just the heads.  This magnificent sculpture features prominently in the Alfred Hitchcock movie, North by Northwest (1959).

8. Tennessee Valley Authority System.

Chartered by congress in 1933 in the midst of the Great Depression, the TVA was created to build a series of hydro-electric dams across the Appalachian South, from Virginia to Mississippi.  Although people displaced by the reservoirs resulting from the dams were not thrilled with the project, most people in the region were happy to get the jobs, cheap electricity (often where there had been none) and the recreational opportunities provided by the lakes.  A total of 46 dams have been built along with an additional couple dozen electric power plants, and even 5 nuclear power plants. Of course, everything comes with a price and environmentalists have long complained of the negative environmental impact of dams upon the natural wildlife.

7. Empire State Building.

The tallest building in the world from 1931 to 1970, this mighty skyscraper remains the very symbol of New York City, arguably the greatest city in the world.  In July of 1945, a B-25 Mitchell medium bomber crashed into the 80th floor, killing 14 people.  Cracked fact: The airplane crash caused an elevator to fall 75 stories, which the elevator operator survived, still the longest elevator fall ever to be survived.  Over the years, something over 30 people have chosen to leap from various floors of the building (to their deaths, of course), and that is not even counting King Kong!  Cracked fact:Although not an emergency hurry up project, it took only 2 years to build the Empire State Building.  An incredible amount of cultural references have been made to this grand tower, including the previously mentioned film, King Kong (1933).  Cracked fact: Dirigibles (Zeppelins) were originally expected to dock at the very top of the building!

6. Hoover Dam.

Originally called Boulder Dam, Hoover Dam was built during the Great Depression, completed in 1936.  More than 100 men lost their lives on this massive project, but that was when jobs were so scarce workers flocked to the huge project.  Over 1200 feet long and over 700 feet high, Hoover Dam is 45 feet wide at the top and over 600 feet wide at the bottom. The largest concrete structure in history to that point, work was actually completed 2 years ahead of schedule.  That might be the most impressive fact.  Cracked fact: A million people a year visit the dam as a tourist site.  Controversy over the dam’s name caused both Hoover Dam and Boulder Dam to be used until 1947 when congress officially name it Hoover Dam.  The river dammed by Hoover Dam is the Colorado River, and the lake created by the dam, Lake Mead, is the largest (by volume) reservoir in the US.

5. The Alcan Highway.

Actually called The Alaska Highway (among other names) this giant project was another one of those “hurry up and get it done right now” propositions due to the emergency of World War II.  Stretching 1700 miles from British Columbia to Delta Junction in Alaska, the Alcan was built to allow overland travel back and forth from the continental United States to Alaska.  The route was planned and reconnoitered by dog sled and the Canadian government offered no financial assistance (as they saw no need for the highway for Canadian purposes).  Started in March of 1942, the highway was completed by November of 1942, an incredible accomplishment.  Dealing with mushy ground was a major problem not solvable by conventional means.  Bulldozers got stuck and stayed stuck. Laying logs across the roadway in the old pioneer fashion (“corduroy” road) was the answer.  Working at a feverish pace to complete the job before winter, much of the work was performed by African-Americans.  The highway was opened to the public in 1948, and today is a few hundred miles shorter than it was at first due to making a more direct route.

4. The Wilderness Road.

Cut through the wilderness from Virginia to Louisville, Kentucky across the Cumberland Gap, the road was built entirely by men with axes and saws and shovels.  No machines! Daniel Boone himself blazed the trail and the road was the most important east-west road for pioneers for 50 years.  First built starting in 1775, the road was for the first several years only traversable by horseback or on foot, but after 1796 wagons could make their way on it.  Not only was the work strenuous, but the builders had to feed themselves and fight off the occasional Indian (Native-American) raid.  Not as impressive as the other projects built with power equipment, the back-breaking labor and hardships endured by the builders is as impressive as any other project.  The Wilderness Road was made more or less obsolete by the National Road in 1818.

3. Trans-Continental Railroad.

Built from 1863 to 1869, this railway ran from Iowa where it intersected with the rail system of the eastern half of the US to San Francisco on California’s Pacific Coast.  The first such railway that spanned a continent, the driving of the “Golden Spike” on May 10, 1869 symbolically completing the railroad is a proud day in American history.  Built by the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads, thousands of freed slaves (African-Americans) and Chinese immigrants contributed to the long days of hard labor without rest while construction crossed rivers, mountains, valleys and deserts.  No longer would settlers have to brave the dangers of a wagon train or a ship ride all the way around South America to get from one coast to the other.

2. Interstate Highway System.

Called The Dwight D. Eisenhower Interstate Highway System as Ike was president in 1956 when the project was authorized and construction started, over 47,000 miles of limited access highway criss-cross the US.  Still under construction, this ongoing project will probably be worked on until the end of civilization.  Cracked fact: The Interstate Highway System took its inspiration from the German Autobahn built 20 years earlier.  Extra Cracked fact: This highway system is not the biggest in the world.  The Chinese have that distinction!  About one fourth of all miles driven by Americans are on the Interstates.

1. Panama Canal.

Opened in 1914, the US built the Panama Canal with an eye toward shifting its Atlantic and Pacific fleets back and forth as needed in time of war.  Of course, the tremendous savings for cargo ships to transit the 48 mile long canal instead of having to go all the way around South America was also a consideration.  Others had tried and failed, because although it looks easy when looking at a World Map, in reality the mountains and rocks and especially disease carried by mosquitoes and poor drinking water made the project extremely difficult. Plus, the US had to create the country of Panama in order to get the rights to build the canal!  In 1977, President Carter signed a treaty with Panama returning the Canal Zone and the canal to Panama on December 31, 1999.  Although after World War II, giant warships and oil tanker ships were too big for the canal, bigger locks are currently under construction to accommodate larger ships.

 

Big Bang for Our Bucks

The WABAC Machine – Wasted Military $$$$$$

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"Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Well Sherman my Boy, today let’s hopscotch around the globe looking for kool military-type stuff.”

10 Weapons That Never (Or Barely) Went into Service

10-Weapons-That-Never-(Or-Barely)-Went-into-Service

It seemed like a good idea……

On March 25, 1958, the Canadian supersonic interceptor, the Avro Arrow made its first flight. Designed to fly at Mach 2+ it seemed like a good airplane, but was mysteriously cancelled prior to production, with all partly assembled units and prototypes destroyed.  Other promising weapons have suffered the same fate, some of which may well have been effective while others faded away due to insurmountable problems.  Here are 10 weapons that are distinguished by their novelty, size, or unrealistic projected abilities.  Tell us the never deployed weapons you think should be on this list.


Uncovering the waste…..

10. Avro Arrow.

A supersonic interceptor designed to shoot down Soviet bombers with air to air guided and un-guided missiles, including nuclear armed missiles.  Designed and built in Canada, with possible markets in Europe as well, it was cancelled abruptly with inadequate explanation resulting in much speculation as to the reasons why.  Since the feared Soviet bomber attack never came, the Arrow would never have fulfilled its mission even had it been built.

9. Nakajima Kikka.

Based on the successful German Me-262 turbojet fighter, the Kikka was developed too late to be used against US bombers, and of the 20 or so examples made, only 2 were complete enough to have flown.  Not quite as big or as capable as the Me-262, the Kikka still would have been an improvement over the piston engine fighters Japan was fielding toward the end of the war and may have taken a serious toll on allied aircraft and ships.

8. Project Habakuk.

A British idea to use sawdust mixed with ice (called pykrete after inventor G. Pyke) to form an enormous unsinkable aircraft carrier intended for use against German U-boats in World War II.  Such a vessel would perhaps start as a natural iceberg smoothed flat and coated with pykrete, hollowed out to house aircraft and crews.  Requiring a length of at least 2000 feet in order to accommodate heavy bombers, further requirements that the “ship” be torpedo proof and able to withstand any wave the ocean could throw at it made development extra difficult and time consuming.  Engine pods would be mounted on the sides, but designers never did figure out how to steer such a sea monster.  Nowhere near as stupid as it first sounds, this project might have gone into production if it had been ready before the war ended.

7. P-75 Eagle.

General Motors got into the airplane business with what would have been an impressive piston engine (propeller driven) fighter plane in World War II, but like so many weapons, events moved faster than the airplane could be developed and only 13 of the 2500 ordered were ever made.  Kind of a composite of several previous aircraft rolled into one, the Eagle would have been fast (433 mph) and climbed like nothing else, as well as having a devastating 10 X .50 caliber machine gun armament.  By the time it would be ready for mass production the war would be over or nearly over and the current production of P-51 Mustangs was not only adequate to do the job, but much cheaper as well.  In any case, jet aircraft would make the Eagle obsolete even as it rolled off the assembly line.

6. Panzer VIII Maus.

Designed by the Germans in World War II as the largest tank (or any enclosed armored land vehicle), this monstrosity weighed over 200 tons (US) and stood 12 feet tall, 12 feet wide, and over 33 feet long!  Armed with a 128 mm main gun and an additional 75 mm gun (and a machine gun for protection against enemy foot soldiers) the Maus had an impressive 1200 horsepower engine to move it along at only 8 mph. Oh, and it would only travel 40 miles off road before running out of fuel.  Weighing nearly as much as 4 fearsome Tiger tanks, you might think the Maus (German for mouse) would not be cost effective or efficient, especially since no normal bridge could hope to support its weight, but Adolf Hitler was fascinated by outlandish and huge weapons so it probably would have been produced if the Soviets had not overrun its factory.  Only one complete prototype was made.

5. YB-49 Flying Wing.

Intended to become the main nuclear weapon delivery system, this “tailless” bomber intrigued aeronautical engineers with the inherent advantages of such a layout.  Of course, there are also disadvantages to every design, and in the case of the YB-49 the lack of computers to monitor and control the flight of the futuristic looking bomber meant the USAF would select the B-36 as its heavy nuclear bomber instead.  The YB-49 was in itself an evolutionary advancement from the YB-35, and the B-2 Spirit is the modern version, now complete with all the necessary technology to make the flying wing concept work.

4. MBT-70.

A joint venture of Germany and the US in the 1960’s, the MBT-70 was supposed to be developed to serve both countries as their main battle tanks.  With a huge 152 mm gun that could also be used to launch anti-tank guided missiles and with a hydro- pneumatic suspension to allow the tank to take advantage of terrain by “kneeling” down or raising itself higher, development was taking too long and costs were skyrocketing.  The last straw was that the tank would have been obsolete before it was fielded, causing both countries to cancel the project and build completely new tanks (the M-1 Abrams and the Leopard II).

3. USS United States CVA-58.

This ship was to be the first of a proposed 5 enormous aircraft carriers authorized by President Truman in 1948.  The mighty ship would be different from any other previous (or subsequent) aircraft carrier in that it would carry 12 to 18 heavy bombers instead of the traditional smaller bombers usually on ships.  Over 1000 feet long and 190 feet wide, the behemoth would require over 5000 men to crew the ship and its airplanes.  Cancelled less than a week after the keel was laid, the event caused an uproar known as “Revolt of the Admirals” and caused the Navy Secretary to resign.  Ship protection would have been provided by 8 X 5 inch guns, 16 X 3 inch guns, and 20 X 20mm automatic cannons (huge machine guns).  The US Navy instead received 4 USS Forrestal class carriers, the first carriers with angled flight decks.

2. The “Spruce Goose.”

More correctly known as the Hughes H-4 Hercules, the giant wooden flying boat with 6 massive propeller engines only had one example built and only flew once, for a short distance.  One of Howard Hughes’ pet projects, the H-4 was made of plywood, not spruce, and was designed to carry 750 soldiers.  Intended for use during World War II, development took longer than expected and the war was over before the plane was ready.  The project was cancelled, and although Howard Hughes promised he would “leave the country” if the project failed Hughes did not leave, though he kept 300 men employed keeping the giant aircraft preserved! (That number was reduced to 50 after 15 years.)

1. XB-70 Valkyrie.

What would have been the fastest bomber ever built, the Soviets designed the MiG-25 Foxbat specifically to shoot it down.  Designed to fly at Mach 3 at high altitudes, the Valkyrie was made obsolete before it flew when Soviet anti-aircraft missiles became capable enough to make high altitude bombers almost useless, regardless of speed.  The Concord SST Mach 2 airliner (now retired) was its legacy.

The WABAC Machine – Wasted Military $$$$$$

Black Gold, Texas Tea, ‘bubblin’ crude’

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Cracked History

March-18,-1974--Arab-Oil-Embargo

Bad memories……..

On March 18, 1974, the so called Arab Oil Embargo came to an end, but any celebrations were certainly premature!


Drilling Deeper…….

Digging deeper, we find two major factors involved in making this crisis as important as it was and still is.

The first factor was that it had appeared US production of oil had peaked and the world believed that from about 1970 onward it would continue to decline more or less on a constant basis.

The other issue at hand was and still is the Arab-Israeli conflict.  The US is pledged to guaranty the continuation of Israel as an independent state and most Arab (and other Muslim countries) countries are determined to see Israel either eradicated or reduced to an even tinier size.

With this background, Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel in October of 1973 during the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur.

The Soviet Union poured war materiel into those countries and against demands by Arab countries the US poured war materiel into Israel.

In retaliation against the US support of Israel, OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) declared a reduction in oil production, an increase in oil prices, and an embargo against imports to the US and any countries supporting Israel.  Oil prices tripled over the next few months and in an economic situation already tumbling toward recession the economy of the US and industrialized nations was rocked.  Gasoline in the US went from about 35 cents a gallon to over 50 cents a gallon and temporary shortages plagued the country.  For the first time, fuel efficiency became an issue and people waited for hours in lines to get their cars gassed up.

Although the crisis appeared to last only a few months, the ramifications of it are still going on today!  For 13 years the US had imposed a 55 miles per hour speed limit on cars and trucks designed to cruise much faster on roads designed for much higher speeds.  Gasoline taxes on national and state levels went up and are today ten times what they were! Emboldened by the success of raising oil prices oil producing countries have continued to keep prices high, about $100 a barrel compared to $3 a barrel when the crisis started!

Although the 55 mph limit has been rescinded (it only saved about 1% of gasoline consumption) government mandated requirements for improved fuel efficiency has transformed the US roadscape from huge gas guzzling cars to smaller more economical ones, and ones often made by companies from outside the US.  Trucks have almost completely made the transition to diesel engines and airlines have shrunk the size of seats in airliners to carry more people.

New relaxed environmental rules have allowed the US to massively increase its production of oil and natural gas, reducing the impact of future problems, such as the 1979 oil crisis precipitated by the Iranian revolution.  The economic crash of 2008 was greatly aggravated by a temporary increase in oil prices to almost $150 a barrel!

Only time will tell if the industrialized world will conquer its addiction to oil and reap the benefits of security and an improved economic future.

The Beverly Hillbillies

 

Black Gold, Texas Tea, ‘bubblin’ crude’

The WABAC Machine – 3/15/1906

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"Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

March 15, 1906: Rolls Royce Founded

March-15,-1906--Rolls-Royce-Founded,-They-Really-Do-Call-it-The-Spirit-of-Ecstasy

Looking back…..

On March 15, 1906, a name synonymous with the finest was created with the founding of Rolls-Royce Ltd.!  That name is the very meaning of luxury and for over 100 years has been the ultimate symbol of wealth.


Under the hood…….

Digging deeper, we find Charles Rolls operating one of the first car dealerships and Fredrick H. Royce manufacturing a two cylinder engine car in 1904 when they met.

Impressed with Royce’s car, Rolls agreed to sell it, and the two formed their iconic company in 1906.  Building the best car they could without cutting corners resulted in cars of the highest quality.  Of course, that quality has never been cheap, and the first Rolls-Royce badged cars started at today’s equivalent of about $65,000 for the cheapest 2 cylinder model.  The more powerful (30 hp) six cylinder model cost more than double that.

Today, Rolls-Royce makes 3 models, the Phantom, the Ghost, and the Wraith.

Each of these powerful and ultra-luxurious cars are large and heavy (about 3 tons), but accelerate with authority with their 12 cylinder engines providing over 500 reasons to do so!  The Phantom and the Ghost come in regular and extended length sizes, while the Wraith is the “sporty” or “performance” model.

Rolls-Royce produced airplane engines in World War I, about half of all those produced by the Allies!  With this new found source of business, airplane engines actually became the largest part of the company.  Rolls-Royce also built armored cars in World War I and in World War II as did other car companies.

In World War II, 160,000 of their Merlin 12 cylinder engines were produced and powered many of the best allied airplanes, including the British Lancaster, Mosquito, Spitfire, Hurricane, and the American P-51 Mustang.  American companies Packard and Ford built Merlins under contract during the war.  This famous aircraft engine was also adapted for use in tanks!

After World War II aircraft engine production shifted mostly to jet engines and many airliners today are powered by Roll-Royce engines.  Financial problems while developing new jet technology led to nationalization of the company in 1971 and the auto producing portion was split off from the aero-engine part, becoming Rolls-Royce Motors.  In the 1990 Volkswagen and BMW fought for ownership of the car making part of Rolls-Royce, with BMW eventually winning.  The airplane engine company was not affected.

So, what about the Spirit of Ecstasy?  That is the name of the familiar hood ornament that adorns Rolls-Royce cars, a winged woman flying just above the radiator seeming to lead the luxury carriage on its way! Coupled with the capital R superimposed over another capital R they are the unmistakable symbols ofThe Best Car money can buy!  A cracked fact: it takes an entire work week to manufacture a single Spirit of Ecstasy!

A final cracked note, Rolls-Royce cars were also built in the United States from 1921 to 1931!  The Springfield, Massachusetts plant produced about 1700 Silver Ghosts until apparently the Great Depression lowered demand for ultra-luxury cars.

The WABAC Machine – 3/15/1906

Bombs Away Japan – Don’t Mess W/Uncle Sam

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March-9,-1945-The-Deadliest-Bombing-Raid-of-All-Time

Duck!

On March 9, 1945, 324 B-29 bombers of the United States Army Air Force inflicted the deadliest and most destructive single bombing raid in history!


Digging through the rubble

Digging deeper, we find Japan reeling from numerous defeats, with American forces having taken island bases within range of Japan for their (at the time) giant B-29 bombers.

Previous bombing missions against mainland Japan from high altitude with conventional bombs had produced disappointing results.  General Curtis LeMay ordered that the massive bombers be stripped of most of their heavy defensive armament and fly at low altitude, both factors which saved fuel and allowed more tons of bombs to be carried.  Raids would be mounted at night to make interception difficult, and although that would necessarily hurt visibility for the bomber crews, accuracy would be enhanced by the low level flight.

The other critical decision was to equip the bombers with mostly incendiary bombs, hundreds of small firebombs instead of a few large conventional explosives.  The construction of Japanese cities was largely of wood with many interior walls made of a type of paper.

These techniques proved fiendishly successful, and in the first such raid a square mile of the capital city of Tokyo was burned to the ground.  On the night of March 9-10, 1945 the massive number of planes combined with dry and windy conditions spelled disaster for Tokyo.

The most densely populated modern city in the world, Tokyo had a population density of over 100,000 per square mile.  Note the word “had!” Sixteen square miles of Tokyo were completely burned to the ground that night, and something over 100,000 people died, most of them horribly!  Many more people were injured, and another million were made homeless.  The incredible carnage and damage set the model for further bombing raids on Japan until the dropping of the first 2 atom bombs ended the war.

This great Tokyo firebombing raid killed more Japanese outright than either atomic bomb, making it the deadliest single raid of the war, and all of history.  After the war the question of the legality and morality of conducting such a raid was fiercely debated, with American war planners accused of war crimes by Japanese and many other people around the world, including in the US!

Probably the most cracked aspect to this historical event was that families of victims later sued the government of Japan in 2007 for failing to end the war earlier and failing to protect and care for them after the bombing!  The suit was dismissed and the plaintiffs lost again on appeal.

Is bombing civilians and causing massive loss of civilian life and property moral?  Should it be allowed, or should it be considered a war crime.  Tell us your opinion in the comments section!

Bombs Away Japan

Shoot to Kill – The Video History of Handguns

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Top Tenz Pisols

Top Tenz Pisols

10 Famous Pistols 

Killer Proof…..

Dear readers, earlier today, we posted an article about Colt’s revolver, but what are some more famous pistols in history?  Read on to find out the top ten!


“Click on” at your own risk!!!!!!

10. Smith & Wesson J-Frame (.38 S&W Special)

The snub nosed .38 all the detectives used to carry in the movies from the 1940’s to the 1980’s was carried by real life detectives as well.

9. Wyatt Earp’s Buntline Special Colt Single Action Army (.45 Long Colt)

The dramatic 12 inch barrel is familiar to people who watched The Life And Legend of Wyatt Earp 1955-1961 television show.  The problem is that this depiction was a myth, and Earp did not carry one.  Buntline Specials with even longer barrels were featured in the 1965 film, For A Few Dollars More, with Clint Eastwood.

8. General George Patton’s Ivory Handled S&W Model 27 and Colt Single Action Army (.357 S&W Magnum and .45 Long Colt)

This pistol is sometimes mistaken for peal handles, which infuriated Patton.

7. Philadelphia Derringer (.41 caliber cap and ball)

The original derringer was the gun used to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.

6. Mauser C-96 (7.63 mm or 9mm)

One of the first semi-autos, probably the first practical semi-auto.  Winston Churchill carried one to war as a young man.

5. Colt M 1911/1911 A1 (.45 ACP)

This gun was carried by the US military from 1911 through today!

4. Luger P-08 (9 mm)

Probably coolest looking pistol of all time is an cconic German gun.

3. Colt “Peacemaker” (.45 Long Colt)

The Single Action Army model that won the west is the pistol of western TV and movie shootouts and trick gun handling.

2. Smith and Wesson Model 29 (.44 S&W Magnum)

The Dirty Harry Gun used to be“The most powerful handgun in the world.”

1. Walther PPK (.380 ACP)

James Bond’s pistol is a must have for wanna be spies!

Shoot to Kill – The Video History of Handguns

The WABAC Machine – 1836 The Wild West

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"Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Sherman my boy, set the WABAC for 1836, the wild, wild West where Men were MEN and a six-shooter was his newest best friend.”

March 5, 1836: “God Created Men and Sam Colt Made Them Equal!” (Old West Adage)

Let’s look back at….

On March 5, 1836, Samuel Colt formed Patent Arms Manufacturing, the forerunner of Colt’s Firearms Manufacturing Company which in turn became today’s Colt’s Manufacturing Company.


Straight shooting facts….

Digging deeper, we find the reason for the founding of this company was the invention and patenting of the revolver, a pistol with a revolving cylinder that can fire 6 times in rapid succession (originally 5 times, later changed to 6) compared to the single shot pistols of the time.

Colt’s Paterson revolver, named after Paterson, New Jersey where the factory was located, was not history’s first attempt at a revolving firearm, but was certainly the first successful and useful model.

Through aggressive marketing, fierce protection of his patents, and perhaps even bribery (he was known to make gifts of guns to potential customers) Colt made enough money that when he died in 1862 he had about $15 million dollars, around one thousandth of the GNP of the United States.  That would be somewhere around $17 billion today!

Previous attempts at revolving guns were hampered by the flintlock ignition system of firearms.  Once the percussion cap was introduced Colt invented his pistol that would safely fire one cylinder at a time without accidentally igniting all the cylinders, which was catastrophic to the guy holding the gun!

Unfortunately, Colt’s success and successful defense of his patents did have cracked consequences!  Colt was unwilling to upgrade his invention to fire metallic case cartridges and stifled any bright ideas from his engineers and workers to protect his investment.  Eventually, Smith & Wesson produced revolvers with a bored through cylinder that were loaded with metal cartridges (like we have today) instead of muzzle loaded cap and ball ammunition.

Colt was an inventor of more than just guns, and also made insulated telegraph wire and improved batteries for telegraphy.  He even demonstrated underwater mines to the US Navy, successfully sinking a target ship, but did not get a contract because then congressman John Q. Adams opposed such a weapon as “unchristian” being a stealthy weapon not fielded face to face.  That is cracked!

Colt also had some cracked morals, and did not hesitate to sell guns to the North and the South leading up to the Civil War.  He had no aversion to slavery, and only intense condemnation in the press painting him as a disloyal Confederate sympathizer made him change his mind about establishing a factory in the South.  He also sold guns to both sides in any military conflict that he could.   He was in it for the money!  Well, that and apparently demon slaying…

Sam Colt died in 1862, reportedly of gout, the final cracked part of this history!  His name still graces the company making Colt firearms and his name is so synonymous with the revolver that in French, “revolver” is Le Colt!

 The WABAC Machine – 1836 The Wild West

The WABAC Machine – The Academy Awards

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"Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?

“Where is the WABAC Machine going to take us this time, Mr. Peabody?”

“1929 Sherman my dear boy, back when Hollywood started patting themselves on the back. We will attend the very first ceremony, so we will need our tuxedos.”

Academy Awards

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (the best damn Website there is)

“Oscars” and “The Oscar” redirect here. For the film, see The Oscar (film). For other uses of the word “Oscar”, see Oscar (disambiguation).
Academy Awards
 86th Academy Awards
ACMI 14.jpg

Cate Blanchett‘s Oscar for playing Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator in 2004
Awarded for Excellence in cinematic achievements
Country United States
Presented by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

 

First awarded

1929

Official website www.oscars.org

The Academy Awards, commonly known as The Oscars,[1] is an annual American awards ceremony honoring achievements in the film industry. Winners are awarded the statuette, officially the Academy Award of Merit, that is much better known by its nickname Oscar. The awards, first presented in 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, are overseen by theAcademy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).[2][3]

The awards ceremony was first televised in 1953 and is now seen live in more than 200 countries.[4] The Oscars is also the oldest entertainment awards ceremony; its equivalents, the Golden Globes for foreign and domestic productions (film and television) the Emmy Awards for American television, the Tony Awards for theatre, and the Grammy Awards for music and recording, are modeled after the Academy Awards.

The 86th Academy Awards will be held on March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.[5]

History- A good excuse for getting dressed up.

Gary Cooper and Joan Fontaine holding their Oscars at the Academy Awards, 1942

The first Academy Awards were presented on May 16, 1929, at a private dinner at theHollywood Roosevelt Hotel with an audience of about 270 people. The post Academy Awards party was held at the Mayfair Hotel.[6] The cost of guest tickets for that night’s ceremony was $5. Fifteen statuettes were awarded, honoring artists, directors and other personalities of the filmmaking industry of the time for their works during the 1927–1928 periods; the ceremony ran for 15 minutes.

Naming the little guy

The origin of the name Oscar is disputed.

 

Bette Davis and Harmon “Oscar” Nelson

One biography of Bette Davis claims that she named the Oscar after her first husband, band leader Harmon Oscar Nelson;[16] one of the earliest mentions in print of the term Oscar dates back to a Time magazine article about the 1934 6th Academy Awards.[17] Walt Disney is also quoted as thanking the Academy for his Oscar as early as 1932.[18] Another claimed origin is that the Academy’s Executive Secretary, Margaret Herrick, first saw the award in 1931 and made reference to the statuette’s reminding her of her “Uncle Oscar” (a nickname for her cousin Oscar Pierce).[19] Columnist Sidney Skolsky was present during Herrick’s naming and seized the name in his byline, “Employees have affectionately dubbed their famous statuette ‘Oscar’”.[20] The trophy was officially dubbed the “Oscar” in 1939 by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It may also have been named after the famous Irish playwright Oscar Wilde.[21]

The WABAC Machine – The Academy Awards