I’m Radioactive! – WABAC to Chernobyl

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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?

“Put on your HAZMAT suit Sherman My Boy & let’s head to 1986 Russia.”

SEA Where the WABAC Takes Us

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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?

“Let’s Sea where the WABAC takes us, Sherman My Boy.”

On September 1, 1952, The Old Man and the Sea, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Ernest Hemmingway novel,  was first published.  Many great novels have centered on ships and men at sea.  In the Marine Corps we used to say, “The difference between a fairy tale and a sea story is the fairy tale starts Once upon a time, while the sea story starts This is no sh*t!”  Here 10 great sea stories involving the tales of sailors and seamen and their ships are listed.  What tales would you add to the list?

Over the Bounding Mane……

10. The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk, 1951.

This Pulitzer Prize-winning fictional story of a mutiny against a captain whose crew believes he is nuts would rank higher if it were not so depressing.  Humphrey Bogart played Captain Queeg in the movie (1954) and did such a great job that he earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

9.  The Raft, Robert Trumbull, 1942.


This book is a true story of 3 US Naval aviators who had to ditch their plane early in the Pacific War (World War II) and their subsequent struggle for survival as they waft on an 8-foot by 4-foot inflatable raft for 5 weeks.  Of course they probably survived for this book to be written, but any more details are left to you to find out in the 213 pages of the book.

8.  HMS Ulysses, Alistair MacLean, 1955.

MacLean got his inspiration for this book while serving in the Royal Navy in World War II during which time he made a couple of arctic voyages.  This story is a tale of the harrowing conditions sailors experienced on the arctic convoys, fighting the weather even more so than U-boats or bombers.  After reading this novel, arctic convoy duty will not sound romantic anymore.

7.  The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemmingway, 1952.

Hemingway wrote this tale of an old Cuban fisherman who goes out on his small boat alone to fish with a handline.  Down on his luck, the fisherman needs a decent catch to survive, and he manages to hook the fish of a lifetime.  His battles with the enormous fish, his victory and then the long trip back to as sharks take bites  off of his mighty marlin have an aura of sadness that is hard to describe.  At least he manages to impresses the townspeople with the carcass of the giant fish.

6.  Das Boot, Wolfgang Petersen, 1982.

This great movie was based on a 1973 novel by Lothar-Gunther Buchheim.  It gives a powerful and compelling depiction of life at sea that captures the closeness and squalor of the conditions on a U-boat during World War II and especially the terror and hardships the men went through.  You may never want to go on a submarine after watching this, but you will have a bit more respect for those who do.  Recommendation:  Watch the German-language version with English subtitles.  It gives a better feel for the urgency and despair in the voices of the officers and men.  Honorable mentions to Run Silent, Run Deep by Edward Beach and The Hunt For Red October by Tom Clancy.

5.  The Horatio Hornblower Series, CS Forester, 1945-1966.

This epic 12-book series details the career of a Royal Navy officer from midshipman to admiral during the Napoleonic Wars (mainly).  Forester (a pen name) also wrote The African Queen (1935), another good boat book that was made into a classic movie (1951).

4.  The Odyssey, Homer, c. 800 B.C. 

While Odysseus and his men make their way back to Greece after the Trojan War, they experiences a nightmarish 10-year voyage in which they visit all sorts of magical lands and encounter all kinds of natural, supernatural and “whatevernatural” entities that hinder their journey.  The egotistical Odysseus (Ulysses as he is known in Latin) makes things harder than they have to be, and he ends up being the only one to make it home.  Many parts of the story have made their way to film, including an exceptional television version starring Armand Assante in 1997.

3.  Mutiny on the Bounty/Men Against the Sea/Pitcairn Island, Nordoff and Hall, 1932.

This trilogy follows the men of the HMS Bounty, a medium-sized sailing vessel.  In the first book, the HMS Bounty is on an assignment to transport breadfruit trees from the South Seas to the Caribbean.  The tyrannical Capt. Bligh (played by Charles Laughton 1935, Trevor Howard 1962 and Anthony Hopkins 1984) pushes and punishes his crew until they can take no more and finally mutiny.  The second book chronicles the struggles of Capt. Bligh and his loyal men as they are adrift in a small boat as they attempt to make their way back to England.  The final book tells the story of the Bounty mutineers as wanted fugitives and the life they try to make for themselves.  All books are based on true events but highly fictionalized.  In the three movie versions mentioned above, Fletcher Christian, the main mutineer, is played by Clark Gable, Marlon Brando and Mel Gibson.

2.  20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne, 1870.

This novel is the quintessential submarine story and has been made into a movie more than once.  Captain Nemo and his ship Nautilus are so famous that the first US Navy nuclear sub was named the USS Nautilus.  Verne, a visionary, managed to describe technology that did not even yet exist at the time he wrote the book.  Nemo and his ship show up again in another Verne book, The Mysterious Island (another must read).  Both books are novels you wish would never end.

1.  Moby-Dick, Herman Melville, 1851.

Moby-Dick is the story of an enormous and mighty white whale and a peg-legged captain who is obsessed with him.  The opening line of the book, “Call me Ishmael,” is one of the most famous introductions ever.  It may be a long book, but it is never boring.  Incredibly, although the book was not successful for many years following initial publication, it now is regarded as one of the greatest American novels of all time.  Even D.H. Lawrence considers it the greatest of all sea stories.

SEA Where the WABAC Takes Us



Girl Power x 5 – WABAC Firsts

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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?

“Let’s visit some groundbreaking women in history.”
“Do you mean moms that use jackhammers, Mr. Peabody?”
“You don’t have a clue do you, Sherman My Boy? “


Five Fabulous Firsts for Females!


The WABAC takes us to…

On September 15, 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee to become the first female Justice of the Supreme Court.  Here 5 spectacular firsts accomplished by women are listed, shining examples for girls to emulate and for boys and men to respect.  Let us know who else belongs on this list for our upcoming articles on this topic.  By the way, in this list, the alma mater of each of these accomplished women is mentioned (the author, for example, is a Cleveland State University graduate).

Under the skirts of history…

5. Dr. Rachel Maddow, First Openly Lesbian Rhodes Scholar, 1995 / FirstOpenly Lesbian US News Anchor, 2008

Educated at Stanford University, Maddow earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford and became the first openly homosexual recipient of such a scholarship.  After earning her Doctor of Philosophy degree in 2001, she embarked on a radio career until the opportunity to work as the first openly homosexual prime time television news anchor presented itself when MSNBC offered her a job. The admittedly liberal newscaster is often disparaged by conservatives, but laughs off the insults.

4. Dr. Angela Dorothea Merkel, First Female Chancellor of Germany, 2005.

Still serving as Chancellor of Germany, “Angie,” as she is affectionately called by her countrymen, is the first woman to hold that office and is arguably the most powerful woman in the world.  Before delving into politics, this brilliant woman received a PhD in Physical (Quantum) Chemistry from the University of Leipzig and worked as a research scientist.

3. Margaret Hilda Thatcher, First Female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 1979.

The first and so far the only woman to hold the position of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the “Iron Lady” was a tough politician and inspirational leader.  In fact, Thatcher was in office longer than any other British prime minister during the 20th century (1979-1990) and saw the UK through the war with Argentina.  Like Merkel, she also studied science; her degree being in chemistry which she received from the University of Oxford.   She proudly noted that she was the first British prime minister with a science degree, ever!  Thatcher also studied for the bar, and became a barrister (lawyer) in 1953.  She died in 2013.

2. Sandra Day O’Connor, First Female Supreme Court Justice, 1981.

Appointed by Republican President Ronald Reagan, Justice O’Connor also retired under a Republican president when she left the bench in 2006.  Since O’Connor’s groundbreaking appointment, 3 other women have been appointed to the Supreme Court and are still serving (Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan).  O’Connor received her law degree from Stanford University.

1. Nancy Pelosi, First Female Speaker of the House of Representatives, 2007.

With her appointment to Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pelosi, a graduate of Trinity Washington University, became the highest-ranking female in American political history and  second in line for the presidency (after the vice president) should the president become disabled or die.  Many other positions of great responsibility have been held by women throughout history, and  the day when the United States finally has a female president may well be soon

 Girl Power x 5 – WABAC Firsts


You got GOLD, welcome to the United States! – WABAC to California

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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 1850 California Sherman My Boy…oh and do you remember where I put my pick-ax?”


September 9, 1850: California Becomes 31st American State


You got GOLD, welcome to the United States!

On September 9, 1850, in the middle of the California Gold Rush, California was admitted to the Union as the 31st state of the United States.  The second largest state at the time until the admission of Alaska, when it fell to third, California is currently the most populous US state and has claim to many other reasons why it might be the greatest state.

Look what we started……

The state that gave us Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, the politicians Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Richard Nixon, California also gives us world class wines and Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat.

California is also blessed with mountains, beaches, an incredibly scenic highway, Beverly Hills, surfer dudes and Valley girls.

Speaking of politicians, Californians even re-elected their former governor Jerry Brown back into office in 2011 after he had previously served as governor from 1975 to 1983, an incredible 28 years between terms!  When it comes to electing public figures, Californians seem to have a special place in their hearts for actors and elected B-movie actor Ronald Reagan as governor before he went on to win the race for the White House.  In recent years, California has become more and more left in its leanings, although in 2003 voters ousted the Democratic governor Gray Davis and inserted former body builder and action film hero Arnold “The Austrian Oak” Schwarzenegger in his place.  Arnold, often beset by claims of sexual harassment, turned out to have fathered a child out of wedlock with his maid, which put an end to all remaining political aspirations.  When compared to Richard Nixon, however, former Senator from California and disgraced President of the United States, Arnold does not look that bad.  Other performers have also been elected to office, with Sonny Bono and Clint Eastwood among them.

In terms of sports, California boasts an incredible array of professional teams: including 3 NFL teams; 5 major league baseball teams; 4 NBA teams and 1 WNBA basketball team; 3 NHL teams; and 3 pro soccer teams.  College sports is also big business there, with major schools being UCLA and USC.

California is the agricultural leader of the the US, and produces half of the nation’s fruit.  The US used to get its pistachios from Iran, but after the 1979 unpleasantness, Californian producers provided this service.

The Golden State is also home to many major US military installations.

In one statistic not to be proud of, though, it is also home to one third of all Americans on welfare!

Caucasians (whites) make up 57% of the population and Mexicans 31%.  Obviously Spanish is the second most spoken language in California, but can you guess the third most spoken language?  It is Tagalog, the native language of the Philippines.

Los Angeles has replaced Chicago as the second largest American city and together with Hollywood and San Francisco is renowned for its colorful characters.


You got GOLD, welcome to the United States! – WABAC to California

Lava, Ash and Global Winter – WABAC to Krakatoa

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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 1883 Krakatoa, Sherman My Boy.”
“Okay then, Vesuvius.”
“Did you mean Venus?”
“Never mind. Go to Wikipedia.”


August 26, 1883: Krakatoa


(Most Violent Volcanic Eruption in 1,800 Years after Vesuvius)


Way back when…..

On August 26, 1883, the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa began its 2-day eruption that was so massive the its effects were felt around the world.  Krakatoa is also the name of the island the volcano is situated on.  The explosive eruption was so great that 2/3 of the island is no longer there.

Looking past the ash…..

Prior to the eruption, the island was about 9 kilometers long by 5 kilometers wide.  After the eruption, the remaining island was only 3 kilometers long by 5 kilometers wide.  The mighty blast was heard by people as much as 3,000 miles away.  There were 4 main explosions, and the largest explosion alone was the equivalent of 150 Megatons of TNT exploding.  In total, the equivalent of 200 Megatons of TNT exploded.  For comparison’s sake, the Hiroshima atom bomb was the equivalent of 15 to 20 Kilotons of exploding TNT.  Cracked History note: Mega = 1,000,000, whereas Kilo = 1,000.

Since a Megaton is 1,000 times more powerful than a Kiloton, that means the main explosion could have been 10,000 times more powerful than the Little Boy atomic bomb!

The shock wave of the mighty blast circled the earth 7 times and filled the upper atmosphere with volcanic ash.  The sun glowed different colors through the ash, and colorful sunsets were seen for several years afterward.  There was so much ash in the atmosphere that it blocked enough sunlight to affect the climate of the Earth for the following 5 years.

Local islands were covered in ash, and some villages were burned by hot chunks of rock.

At least 36,000 people were killed by the ensuing tsunamis.

Amazingly, this eruption was not the most powerful in human history.

The Vesuvius eruption of 79 A.D. was still more powerful, and the massive eruption of Santorin (Thera) around 1,500 B.C. was several times more powerful!

The big questions are when and where will a volcano erupt again.  It will for sure happen.  As of now the technology to stop such an eruption does not yet exist, so all that can be done is to monitor seismic activity and to try to predict it.  Another thing that can be done is prepare disaster plans for dealing with the aftermath.

Lava, Ash and Global Winter – WABAC to Krakatoa

Before Camera Phones & InstaGram – WABAC to Early Photography

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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?

“Let’s hit the archives for the work of early photographers, Sherman My Boy.”


The Road to Quirksville

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The 13 Quirkiest Roads You Need To See

Driving can be a little monotonous — the same views for miles, switching lanes just for a change of scenery, constantly checking your rearview mirror to avoid highway hypnosis — but we’ve found a few roads where you’ll find a lot more excitement.

In most cases, you’d be on the edge of your seat, white-knuckle driving, trying to snap photos of your four-wheeled adventure, wishing you were back on that boring, old road you know so well.

The Steepest
baldwin street
Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand is the world’s steepest residential street,reaching a maximum of 19 degrees.
The Most Dizzying
passo dello stelvio
Passo dello Stelvio in the Ortler Alps in Italy has 48 hairpin turns, an average incline of 7.4% – and 6% is about the maximum for U.S. highways.


The Scariest
Guoliang Tunnel in Hunan, China was chiseled by hand into the Taihang Mountains in the 1970s and is lined with windows to terrifying views. It has a clearance of only 15 feet, a width of 12 feet, and a precipice around every other bend.


The Most Confusing
magic roundabout
The Magic Roundabout in Swindon, England consists of five mini-roundabouts arranged in a circle.


The Narrowest
parliament street exeter
Exeter, England’s Parliament Street, which dates back to the 1300s, is the narrowest street in the world, measuring less than 25″ at its narrowest point.


The Longest
panamerican highway aerial
The Pan-American highway connects the mainland nations of the Americas and is 29,800 miles long. It’s the longest “motorable” road in the world, according to Guinness World Records.


The Most Stubborn
This road just won’t move. The Umeda exit of the Hanshin Expressway in Osaka, Japan runs right through the city’s Gate Tower Building.


The Shortest
ebenezer place
With just one house on it, Ebenezer Place in Wick, Caithness, Scotland is the shortest street in the world, measuring just 6.8 ft.


The Widest
9 de julio avenue
At almost 460 feet wide including side streets, 9 de Julio Avenue in Buenos Aires, Argentina is the widest street in the world.


The Crookedest
lombard street
Had to include the most obvious: Lombard Street in San Francisco. It has 8 switchbacks because the road would have been too steep for most vehicles to traverse otherwise.


The Oldest
road to giza
The Road to Giza is the world’s oldest known paved road. At over 4,600 years old, it was used to transport the enormous blocks of basalt for building from the quarries to a lake adjoining the Nile.


The Most Dangerous
yungas road
Yungas Road (split into North and South sections), which runs from from La Paz to Coroico in western Bolivia, is nicknamed the Road of Death because of its nearly 2,000-foot drops (without guardrails!) and the countless accidents that have happened on it. The road ranges in elevation from 4000 feet to more than 15,000 feetand is as narrow as 10 feet in some sections.


The Best-Connected
atlantic road
The Atlanterhavsveien, also known as the Atlantic Road, is a roughly 5-mile stretch of road on Norway’s west coast that consists of 8 bridges that cross over an archipelago of 8 different islands, which creates an incredibly scenic drive.



The Road to Quirksville

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