Pilgrim Thanksgiving – Food For the 1st Settlers

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Foods the Pilgrims

Likely Ate

at the First

Thanksgiving

Unfortunately, there is no actual menu for the first Thanksgiving in 1621. There is some debate, however, whether or not turkey was on the table. There is even one story where the original intent was to hunt for turkey, and all the Pilgrims wound up bagging was a bunch of crows instead. We would guess that those were a wise bunch of birds.

So let’s assume that turkey became a holiday symbol later on, and look at some of the other foods that may well have been served at that first Thanksgiving. Keep some napkins handy, because you are about to start drooling something fierce.

10. Eel

Serving Eel for Thanksgiving

It is well known that Squanto took pity on the Pilgrims, and helped teach them how to live off of the land and water. One of the hunting methods that Squanto taught them was to spear eels, who were curled up in muddy areas during colder weather. As a matter of fact, the feast made when the Pilgrims made peace with the leader of the Massosoit tribe was a feast of eels. The hunting of eels is also backed up by Pilgrim accounts. So yes, instead of cranberries, the first Thanksgiving would have probably featured a second helping of eel. Just like Grandma used to make.

9. Dried Fruit

dried fruit for Thanksgiving

Fruit was considered to be more of a snack by the Pilgrims. However, there was not refrigeration to store fruits. The solution, particularly when out of season or when you did not have a budget to ship them in from Spain, was to dry the fruits and eat them later. Drying could be done either outside or in shelters, to keep away flies. In addition to sun-drying fruit, there was also the option of oven-drying fruits in cooler climates. Dried fruit, such as raisins, would have been a treat or dessert to eat at the first Thanksgiving table. Also, you might have wanted to store a few in your pocket for later.

8. Lobster

stuffed-lobster thanksgiving

While lobster is more of a delicacy today, the Pilgrims would have seen the crustacean as a staple of their diet. The Patuxet Squanto was again instrumental in teaching the Pilgrims to catch and cook lobsters. The Pilgrim Edward Winslow even sent a letter back to England in 1622 detailing the feast (which is reported to have lasted up to five days) and lobster was really put over as a major dish. This letter electrified the imagination of all who read it, and started to turn the Harvest Feast into Thanksgiving. So it might be a great idea to spend a Thanksgiving rolling out that very traditional Lobster Feast. Just don’t forget to remove the rubber bands afterwards. They’re chewy.

7. Hardtack

hardtack thanksgiving

To be fair, “Hardtack” was also a name applied to these biscuits served primarily during the Civil War. They were often derided, and would frequently be infested with bugs. Hardtack existed during the Pilgrims’ era too, would often be eaten in darker places (so they didn’t have to see the bugs) and dipped into liquids. The dipping had a dual purpose. First, it would lighten the biscuits’ rock hard jaw-breaking consistency. Plus, it killed the maggots, a recommended step for any good dish, really.

Hardtack is rather easy to make, as well as plentiful. if you’re sick of warm, soft, buttery rolls at your Thanksgiving, consider these glorified stones for all your future meals. Just  keep an eye out for any wriggling maggots that somehow survived the Dipping Holocaust.

6. Samp

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When the pilgrims and the Wampanoag broke hardtack together, they would have enjoyed a helping of samp on the side. Samp, a derivative of a primarily-English porridge, is a mixture of corn and milk mixed into a rather soupy consistency. In the 1600’s book Two Voyages to New EnglandJohn Josselyn states that the Samp would be boiled by the gallon after the corn was ground into a flour and stirred in a combination of milk and water. Samp could have either been a side dish or a full meal, depending on the situation. Photo and Samp recipe.

5. Maize

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Because it grew better than English grains, Pilgrims referred to Maize as “Indian Corn.” The corn was planted in the spring, with the Wampanoag using small herring fish as fertilizer for its growth. The corn would have been dried out by November, meaning the Pilgrims would not have eaten corn-on-the-cob at Thanksgiving. The corn would have been shucked, as well as ground. This would have been primarily done to make into a meal, or to cook into bread. Either way, maize would have been a staple of Pilgrim diets at the time of the first feast.

4. Pumpkins

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The classic image of Pilgrims making pumpkin pie for the first Thanksgiving is not quite accurate. The Pilgrims would likely have dug out the contents of the pumpkin, and refilled it with eggs and other items. The pumpkin would then have been cooked to a blackened outside shell. In this way, the pumpkin would have served as an edible pot, with the contents being scooped out and served. So pumpkins were likely a big part of the first Thanksgiving feast, though they were not specifically mentioned until the account of the second Thanksgiving feast.

3. Wild Fowl

THanksgiving Goose

Far moreso than turkey, it was quite likely that ducks or geese were served at the first Thanksgiving. The simple fact is that ducks and geese were more plentiful in autumn to hunt than turkeys were. There is also the great possibility that Passenger Pigeons, which have been extinct for over a century, would have been plentiful at the time. Swan may have also been on the menu.

One reason to use these birds over turkey is the issue of preparation. Smaller fowl can be spit roasted, which would make them easier to cook for a large crowd. Back then, turkey would have to be boiled prior to stuffing, which was a much bigger pain back in the day. It would have simply been easier to feed a crowd with birds other than turkey.

2. Fish

atlantic white cod for thanksgiving

Fish, specifically Atlantic White Cod, would have been a staple of most any meal done by the Pilgrims. Cod was plentiful, as well as desired for its lean white meat. The Pilgrims were quite intent on fishing, except they were terrible at it. Squanto and others taught the Pilgrims not only to fish, but also to use the rest of the fish as fertilizers for crops and oils.

Of course, cod would not be the only seafood on the menu. There would have also been quahogs (clams,) which were steamed. Bass and oysters would have been plentiful as well. In short, the bulk of the first Thanksgiving would have most likely been a seafood feast.

1. Deer (Venison)

roast venison - deer meat

While we’re doubtful about turkey being on the first Thanksgiving menu, there is no question about deer meat being on the table. According to Edward Winslow, author of the only known account of the event, the Wampanoag killed five deer for the feast. Winslow was extremely specific about the deer portion of the meal, and only vaguely referred to the bird meat as “fowl,” so you can guess which dish was his favorite that day. What can we say; some people are simply partial to red meat.

So if someone kills Bambi this Thanksgiving, they’re not heartless murderers of all thing innocent and childlike; they’re simply following a proud tradition dating back to 1621. Not to worry though; if you’re squeamish about killing your own deer, there are plenty of exotic meat markets out there willing to charge youridiculous amounts of money for the right to enjoy the ultimate hipster holiday treat.


Pilgrim Thanksgiving

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– Foods of the Settlers

Ancient Egypt Handbook – WIF Into History

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Unusual Facts About

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt has long been a fascinating subject not only to historians, but to average people all over the world. They had many mystical practices that have long kept us intrigued. From their unique burial practices to their awe inspiring pyramids, they have left us with a feeling of mystery and wonder. Architects, Egyptologists, and experts on many different subjects consider the Ancient Egyptians a fascinating subject of study and have long hoped to one day discover all of their secrets. However, while there are many mysteries yet about the Ancient Egyptians, there are also many fascinating things we have already discovered in regards to them that most people are not aware of.

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10. Ancient Egyptians Kept Baboons and Other Monkeys as Pets and for Ritual Significance

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Most people are well aware that Ancient Egyptians did put some historical significance in certain animals — namely cats. Cats are known to be the number one go-to pet for Egyptians. Some are said to have been buried with their owners to accompany them in the afterlife. And while cats were very valued and had a certain religious and ritual significance, they were not the only animal in that category.

While it may not sound quite as dignified, monkeys, especially baboons, were kept around for their ritual significance in magic and religion — which were basically one and the same — and just to enjoy as fun pets. They had to go to great trouble to get their hands on these baboons because they were not native to the area. Historians believe they would have had to be imported by ship. Nevertheless, they became so important that they show up in a lot of religious imagery associated with the gods and found themselves a permanently revered place in Ancient Egyptian history.

 9. They Went to Great Lengths to Remove Body Hair, and Both Genders Often Wore Wigs

wigs

In many depictions of Ancient Egyptians they are shown with very little hair on their heads, but many people may not realize the full extent of the work they went to in removing body hair. Children of both genders would wear a small lock on the side of their head that would be cut off when they reached adulthood. Apart from this, both men and women were bald.

Not only that, but both men and women went to great trouble to remove all body hair constantly from all parts of their body. This was a normal part of hygiene in Ancient Egyptian society, but would have been quite extreme to people today. Of course for women and men fashion was still very important, so wigs were quite common, especially among the upper class.

There are many theories as to why they did this. Most historians figure it was either something to do with the heat of the area, and that the Ancient Egyptians hypothesized that removing all hair would keep them cooler. Some people think that it was simply because they were incredibly obsessed with cleanliness. Most of these theories are quite reasonable, but ancient alien theorists believe they were trying to look like their former reptilian overlords the Anunnaki.

8. The Book of the Dead Was Not Originally a Unified Text

book of the dead

 The Book of the Dead has been featured in countless movies, books and other media at this point, which hasn’t really done much to help people understand what it actually was. Most people think of it as something like the Egyptian version of the Bible or the Koran, but that isn’t really accurate — at least not originally. The Book of the Dead was in the beginning much more like the Wiccan idea of a “Book of Shadows” — a journal you filled with your combined knowledge of all spells you had learned from others, read from other books and found important, your own created spells and wisdom you yourself came up with over time.

For a long time in Ancient Egypt, Books of the Dead were still very personal, they were rarely organized in any particular order, and there was no unifying structure on what should and shouldn’t be included. It wasn’t until the 26th dynasty that any kind of real organization or order was put in place, and even then historians have still not been able to make proper sense of it.

Egyptologists have managed to collate together 192 different spells from books of the dead, but not a single one contains every spell, meaning that there is, as far as they know, not one single unified text anywhere to accept as the official, correct one.

7. The Racial Identity of Ancient Egyptians is Extremely Controversial

egyptians

No matter where you live in the world, there are likely controversial race issues around you. These issues have existed as far back as humans have recorded history, and have often led to bloody wars and massacres. While racial tensions still cause violence around the world, we are at a low point historically, and now many people are taking the battle for race to academia, where heated arguments are had over whether revered historical groups or people belong to a certain race.

 Everyone respects and admires the Ancient Egyptians, so it likely comes as no surprise to many that groups with an agenda will go to great lengths to attempt to define Ancient Egyptians as whatever race helps them make a convenient political point. After a recent DNA test of King Tut’s mummy, some people claimed it was evidence that he was of Western European origin, and others said the results were entirely flawed and rushed.

In the past people have also claimed the Ancient Egyptians were of Nordic stock, and many have speculated and tried to claim with great passion that they were black africans similar to many today. Historians, on the other hand, believe that they were a fairly racially diverse society that looked similar to many artistic depictions of them. Obviously they would have had somewhat darkened skin from the sun, but were not none for being an entirely homogenous group.

6. There Were Way More Pyramids Than People Realize

pyramids

Whenever we hear about the pyramids, we hear about the great Pyramids at GizaEgypt. These pyramids have been visited by countless tourists, have been excavated and explored and suffered damage over the years — they have quite a story to tell. People have speculated endlessly on how they were built, and if it may have even been alien visitors from another planet. These theorists will go to great lengths to make these particular pyramids and the exact positioning of them on the sand to be incredibly significant. Many of these theorists are convinced that the pyramids are also not burial chambers at all.

However, the pyramids were almost certainly burial chambers, and if the theorists realized how many pyramids were built, they may realize how little sense the theories make. The Ancient Egyptians built, at least as far as Egyptologists are currently aware of, somewhere getting close to the neighborhood of 100 pyramids, none of them as large as the ones at Giza but they are all quite sizeable. Huge pyramidal chambers could only be afforded by the richest Egyptian citizens in the ancient days, but they were built for many Egyptians, and were hardly a strange occurrence at all.

The truth is that there are many theories on how the various pyramids could have been built, and many of them are possible solutions. We just don’t know exactly how they did it. They also could have used somewhat primitive, but effective, building techniques that we simply have not thought of ourselves.

5. Some of the Richer Citizens in Ancient Egypt Were Incredibly Fat

fat egyptian

 In the United States and much of the developed world today, obesity has become a very serious health issue. Many people are simply not getting enough exercise and not eating the right foods — or simply overeating in general, and it is causing them serious issues. Apart from the simple strain on the body of excess weight, the massive amounts of sugar intake can cause people to develop a type of diabetes as well.

While most people would think that the Ancient Egyptians were quite thin and muscular, like all societies, the way we look at what is preserved of history can skew our perceptions. Most of what we knew was based on builders and a few rich pharaohs, so it was hard to accurately gauge the true fitness of a person from an ancient society. However, recently remains were found of the pharaoh Hatshepsut, showing that she had been incredibly obese and likely also had diabetes due to her extreme overeating.

While it’s hard to say because surviving mummies are rare these days, if one rich citizen such as a pharaoh could be fat both socially and in terms of resources, it is quite likely that plenty of other richer, more privileged Ancient Egyptian citizens were also fat as well.

4. So-Called “Mummy Parties” Have Caused Much of History to be Lost Forever

mummy party

Many people today bemoan how children or young people will be out distracted running around with a phone trying to catch a virtual animal that they can use to virtually battle people, but the hobbies of the young people of yesteryear would have had them much more horrified. As we have mentioned, many people have long been fascinated with Ancient Egypt, but this got really strange in the early 1900s when Egypt fever was at a pitch in Europe.

 It started slowly, and like many fads quickly grew out of control. People would bring back mummies as souvenirs from travels to Egypt, all to happy to take advantage of the lax laws of the time, and then have parties where they unwrapped the mummy in their home with all their friends around. This obviously permanently damaged precious pieces of history that could have yielded scientists with incredible information in the future with proper DNA analysis.

Some people may just say “it was a different time,” but it is hard to imagine any time period where it would be normal and acceptable to invite your pals over for a fun afternoon of unrolling a several thousand year old dead body. Regardless, it is almost impossible to estimate just how much damage this wanton and careless destruction of Egyptian culture — in the name of enthusiasm — has cost us in terms of our knowledge of them.

3. Ancient Pharaohs Were Sometimes as Crazy as Roman Emperors

hatshepsut

Whenever someone wants to think of an example of tyrants who ruled with a combination of insanity and delusional grandiosity, they tend to immediately name someone like Emperor Nero or Caligula. If they can’t think of a specific name, they just generically compare them to the Roman Emperors. They were known for eating absolutely ludicrous feasts, making all kinds of bizarre personal demands and generally abusing their power and position to an insane degree. However, while the Roman Emperors may have been crazy, the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt came before them, and they were often just as strange or even stranger.

 The Pharaoh Hatshepsut, despite being female, was also known for usually wearing men’s clothes as well as a mock up of a male’s beard, in order to look like a male pharaoh. Some historians also believe she may have wore black and red nail polish, kind of like some teenagers today. While she presented herself as a man to receive proper respect as a ruler, and seemed to enjoy mens clothes, there is also no evidence she was anything but straight.

However, even Hatshepsut pales in comparison to Pepi II when it comes to crazy. Pharaoh Pepi II became Pharaoh at a very young age, and as such it may not be surprising that the power quickly went to his head, and he began abusing it greatly. He personally hated flies, and so to ensure that they would never land on him, he came up with an ingenious and cruel idea to keep them off his body. He kept several slaves nearby at all times, covered in honey, so the flies would bother them instead of him. It seems to have never occurred to him that he could have just as easily spread the honey on inanimate objects instead of people.

2. Not Everyone in Ancient Egypt was Elaborately Mummified

mummy

When many people think of Ancient Egypt they mostly just assume that the society mummified everyone — and that this was just their idea of a burial. However, while the elite certainly wanted the most elaborate process available, with the most pomp and circumstance, many people did not have the means for very much. In today’s world, loved ones of the deceased who aren’t particularly rich often have to go with more budget options instead of the elaborate ones they prefer, even going so far as to use cremation in some causes simply because it is much less expensive.

In Ancient Egypt, they had a similar situation, where while everyone would have loved to have an elaborate ceremony, many of the poorer or less well to do citizens would have to make do with less complete, or more hasty forms of mummification that wouldn’t preserve the body as long or as effectively. These ceremonies would probably involve some prayers and other spells, and would sometimes be a simple burial in the sand. Only those with some means could afford to bury their dead in what was essentially a mausoleum — something very few can afford today.

In many cases, the reason we mostly think of Ancient Egyptians being preserved are because the ones we have to study are the ones that managed to stick around to be studied. We know from inference that apart from the many mummies destroyed by unwrapping parties, that there had to be many that were simply never mummified fully, or buried in any marked grave or structure, and decayed thousands of years ago, lost forever to the sands of time.

 1. Punishments for Breaking the Law Could be Extremely Harsh

punishment

In the Ancient world, punishment could often be harsh, but in Ancient Egypt, it was probably still far harsher in many cases than most people would imagine. Today, punishments mostly consist of being sent to a prison where the state sometimes has you do labor, but rarely if ever makes any real money from it. In the ancient world, labor was considered much more important and resources were very valuable. Those who needed to be punished were either killed outright or were given their due and sent right back to work to continue producing for the collective.

In Ancient Egypt, the crime for stealing in one text is described as “100 blows and five wounds” and some studies carried out on skeletons found in Amarna, an Ancient Egyptian city, have given researchers reason to believe this may have been a real punishment. They have found skeletons with gashes on the shoulder blade area, and believe the men were not attacked, but were likely being punished and were then sent right back to work.

 However, while punishments for stealing could be quite harsh, those for crimes of a sexual nature could be much harsher. Women were often treated more strictly, and if a woman was caught cheating she literally had her nose cut off to spite her face, while a man simply had to take a severe beating of 100 blows. Of course, while this may seem like a double standard, the penalty for a man raping a woman was also very strict — if a man were judged to have raped a freeborn woman, he would be castrated. Like some ancient cultures, many punishments also included the removal of limbs, and execution for serious offenses like grave robbing.


Ancient Egypt Handbook

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– WIF Into History

Halloween Facts and Puns #32 – WIF Holidays

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Halloween Facts

– More than Candy and Goblins

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Halloween, or Hallowe’en (/ˌhæləˈwn, ˈn, ˌhɑːl/; a contraction of “All HallowsEvening“), also known as All halloweenAll Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a yearly celebration observed in a number of countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows),martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers.

According to many scholars, All Hallows’ Eve is a Christianized feast influenced by Celtic harvest festivals, with possible pagan roots, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain. Other scholars maintain that it originated independently of Samhain and has solely Christian roots.

Typical contemporary festive Halloween activities include trick-or-treating (or the related “guising“), attending costume parties, decorating, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing and divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories and watching horror films. In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows’ Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular, although in other locations, these solemn customs are less pronounced in favor of a more commercial and secular celebration.Because many Western Christian denominations encourage, although most no longer require, abstinence from meat on All Hallows’ Eve, the tradition of eating certain vegetarian foods for this vigil day developed, including the consumption of apples, colcannon, cider, potato pancakes, and soul cakes.

Etymology

The word Halloween or Hallowe’en dates to about 1745 and is of Christian origin. The word “Halloween” means “hallowed evening” or “holy evening”. It comes from a Scottish term for All Hallows’ Eve (the evening before All Hallows’ Day). In Scots, the word “eve” is even, and this is contracted to e’en or een. Over time, (All) Hallow(s) E(v)en evolved into Halloween. Although the phrase “All Hallows'” is found in Old English (ealra hālgena mæssedæg, all saints mass-day), “All Hallows’ Eve” is itself not seen until 1556.


Image result for halloweenPuns for Intelligent People 001

My friend wants to dress like the Queen of Hearts for Halloween. I think I’ll follow suit.

The fastest, most efficient way to make Halloween costumes is mask production.Image result for halloween masks

 

Witches are good at spell-ing.

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Where do witches bake their cookies? In a coven.

 

A trickortreat route is a fright path.Image result for halloween candy

 

Those who eat candy with both hands are ambi-dextrose.

 

There was a fight in the candy store. Two suckers got licked.

 

A group of ballerinas were wearing their tutus. A couple of extra costumes arrived but they thought they might be tutu many.Image result for skeleton key

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The tale of the haunted refrigerator was chilling.

 

 

I used my skeleton key to get into the haunted house.

 

Two brothers collaborated on haunted stories, but one was a ghost writer.

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‘We’ve lost too much to the Indian princess at that card game,’ declared Capt. John Smith, ‘but don’t let poker haunt us.’

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Halloween Facts

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– And Puns

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #333

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #333

… pure fictional genius…

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Nearly all of the main Tallahassee characters were real people. I used their actual names and because of the volatile nature of the events, especially in the 1950’s, I may have the legal department pulling out their hair. If I had fictionalized their names, I could never have kept them all straight. Who they were and Image result for real peoplewhat was their relation to A.O. Campbell needed to be as is. Perhaps it is due to my simple mind, but George Lewis, Charles latobsd3-001Wilson, Franklin McLoud, the Dr.’s nurses, the Dr.’s attorneys, the Prosecutors, Starke Prison and Audrie Franich, all appearing in chapter 1 & subsequently, are real.

Now, some of the machinations surrounding his trial and subsequent imprisonment, well that is a combination of speculation and fictionalization on my part. None of this tinkering affects the end result.

Robert Ford-001Carolyn Hanes and Capt. Robert Ford do have a big role in the book. Bob Ford did indeed pilot the Pacific Clipper at the outbreak of WWII and had to fly it back to New York counterclockwise. Carolyn Hanes is pure fiction. You may think she is my alter ego. That is left for you to imagine.

Ferrell's Grocery-001   In chapter 2, the Ferrell family is foundational to the story line. Most all of them are true, in the fact that they did exist. I may have exaggerated their role, but they do and did contribute to Leon County past.

Laura Bell/Olla is a key to the complicated bloodlines of the Campbell family. She is the mother of Maggie Lou, though Maggie’s erotic conception may be subject to my imagination. Maggie Lou does go on to marry the doctor in 1916.Campbell Home-001

The Campbell family, headed by Willy and Amanda, is the all-in-all. Alfrey (A.O.) Campbell had four brothers and sisters. Hosea is the most infamous, but was he such a rascal, I do not know?

More than likely, the Campbell’s were slaves at some point, but the evil Jefferson Smythwick did not exist and his Fort Sumter South plantation occupies made-up ground. You must admit though that the escape by Alfrey et al was an exciting treat. Take that mean old slave owners!

Anti-slavery-001 Chapters 3 and 4 contain the fictional Southeast Anti-slavery Society, headed by the great Herbert Love. I call him great because he is the person, who I posit, providing for the Dr.’s education. In fact, I have since learned that A.O.’s extended family may have sacrificed holdings to finance his education.Sec. of Ag-001

Love never made Secretary of Agriculture in a McKinley administration, but he would have had the qualifications. He was engaged in farming of some sort, though he takes on a lion’s share philanthropy for my purposes.

San Luis Lake-001 Siegfried and Frieda Endlichoffer, the German couple across the lake from John Ferrell, are based on a personal acquaintance. They are a sweet augmentation to the Tallahassee landscape and what better neighbors could anyone have?

Of course the Spanish American War was real. It represents the USA’s first foray into imperial policy, which has led to our global role as policeman to the world.mckinley-at-pan-american-exposition

The Horizons of chapters 5 and 6 are the recounting of what was going on the last time we entered a new century. 1900 had as many amazing changes as we have in the Catfish AL-001year 2000. President McKinley was indeed assassinated in 1901 and that was preceded by the Galveston hurricane, the Great Plague and followed by the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

Harv Pearson is a huge player in LATOBSD. He marries Judith Eastman in chapter 7, who is fictional and they start the Pearson-Eastman Journal, a make believe publication that gives this book the legs to reach out to the entire flat world… pure fictional genius.

Continued

… one Episode to go…

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Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode #333


You are hereContents 5-2016

Mind Boggling Crime Riddles

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Crime Riddles That

Boggle Your Mind

Historical Misconceptions – WABAC Into History

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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 go back  and set the record straight at some crucial points in history, starting with the American Revolution, Sherman My Boy.”

Historical Myths

and Misconceptions

Whistle-Blower Handbook – WIF Spotlight

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Whistle-Blower HOF

(as of 2003)

But some people reach a point where they can no longer keep the secret. Whether it’s because they are morally outraged or just want plain revenge, some people risk their status, friends, careers, and even their lives to bring the truth to the light of public scrutiny, no matter how ugly or damning it may be. We call those people “whistle-blowers.” Here are the top ten of them who saw something wrong, and could not remain silent.

10. Cheryl Eckard

cheryl eckard

Of the great advancements in science that marked the 20th Century, one of the most remarkable has been the creation of thousands of new drugs and medicines. Diseases and conditions that once caused suffering and death across the globe can now be treated with just a few pills. Life expectancy is up, and people can live healthier lives than we ever dreamed possible. Unfortunately, sometimes the guys who make these wonder drugs are more interested in raking in as much cash as they can than making people’s lives better. Take GlaxoSmithKline for example.

In 2003, Glaxo Quality Assurance Manager Cherly Eckard warned her bosses that standards at one of their huge factories in Puerto Rico were leaving a lot to be desired. Drugs were being contaminated and frequently contained more or less of the active ingredients than they were supposed to. Eckard’s warnings went unheeded. Despite the fact that her job was on the line, she repeatedly complained to the company and tried to get the factory up to code. For her trouble, GlaxoSmithKline fired Eckard. Undeterred, she went to the authorities and blew the whistle on the company’s wrongdoing. After a lengthy legal battle, GlaxoSmithKline was fined $750 million and forced to clean up the problems at the factory. And Cherly Eckard? She was awarded a cool $96 million in damages. Doing the right thing can be profitable sometimes.

9. Marc Hodler

 

In theory, the Olympics are meant to be an international expression of cooperation, brotherhood, and the power of sport to unite mankind across cultures. For the athletes who participate in them, they are a culmination of years of struggle and preparation. They are a place where they can show the world their best and represent their country in beautiful displays of human achievement. For others, namely the people who organize the Games, they are sometimes seen as little more than a gold lined trough. One of the worst examples in modern history of the corruption that lies underneath the Olympics was the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Frustrated at repeated failures to win the Games (the closet one being the 1998 Games that went to Nagano, Japan), Salt Lake officials decided that they were going to get the games no matter what it took. And what it took was a whole lot of gifts to the people who choose the host.

It seemed that The International Olympic Committee (IOC) members had a price, and Salt Lake was more than willing to pay it. They gave cash, expensive trips, jobs, and even plastic surgery to IOC members in order to secure their votes. No one knows exactly how much was paid out, but it wasn’t an accident that the Salt Lake City Games were nearly $400 million over budget. Unfortunately, this was business as usual. But then one member, a former Swiss ski coach called Marc Hodler, had had enough. He went to the press and threw a light on the whole sordid affair. Thanks to him, several members were sacked and a new set rules were introduced. The Olympics are still mostly about money, but at least now they’re less about buying expensive gifts for Eurotrash.

8. Mark Whitacre

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In 1992, Mark Whitacre was on top of the world. He was rich, happily married, and a rising star at his company. An executive at food industry giant Archers Daniel Midland, he was president of their Bioproducts Division which oversaw the use of food additives. But things changed dramatically that year when he became involved in an international scheme to fix the price of additives such as lysine and citric acid. Along with several major Agribusiness companies from around the world, ADM artificially set the world price for these additives and committed one of the biggest corporate crimes in American history .

Under pressure from his wife, Whitacre went to the FBI with details of the plan. If that had been the end of it, Whitacre would still probably be remembered as a great whistleblower, but he went one step further. For the next three years, Whitacre went undercover for the FBI and secretly recorded hundreds of meetings all over the world to expose the plot. His evidence led to hundreds of millions of dollars in fines to the companies involved. Unfortunately, Whitacre was also busy embezzling $9 million dollars from the company at the time, so he ended up in jail himself, and for much longer than any of the people he helped expose. He’s since been released and even got to be played by Matt Damon in the 2009 movie about the case The Informant!

7. Coleen Rowley

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When the first plane slammed into the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11th, 2001, the nation and the world were overcome with shock. From out of nowhere and with no warning, a small handful of terrorists had staged a massive attack in the largest city of the most powerful country on the earth. Suddenly war and terror weren’t something that happened “over there.” The fire, destruction and death that America had been spared for so long were right here on the doorstep. How had these men been able to strike at the heart of the country without raising a single bit of suspicion? Well, the truth is, they didn’t. It turns out that government agencies had intelligence that the attacks were imminent.

The FBI in particular, received a report from its Minneapolis field office that Zacarias Moussaoui was possibly involved in preparations for a suicide hijacking. That office, and Field Agent Coleen Rowley requested permission to search Moussaoui’s rooms and laptop, but were denied by her bosses. Once the attacks happened, Rowley was sure they could have derailed or delayed them if they had had the chance to go after Moussaoui. And she wasted no time in telling her superiors and the 9/11 Commission. Because of her honesty and willingness to come forward, changes were made in the FBI to improve counterterrorism investigations and intelligence gathering. She soon retired and was named one of TIME’s “Men of the Year” for 2002.

6. Peter Buxtun

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There are a lot of dark chapters in American history. A lot of times where the government or large institutions did horrible, horrible things, safe behind walls of silence and complicity. One of the worst examples of the US government treating its citizens like lab rats was the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments. For 40 years, the U.S. Public Health Service researched the natural progression of untreated syphilis. Unfortunately, to do this, they needed a group of people afflicted with the disease to not receive treatment. Despite the fact that it was unethical and grossly violated the Hippocratic Oath, the doctors who conducted the study decided to not only deny treatment to the participants, but to also deliberately mislead them as to the nature of their disease. They watched and took notes as 399 poor, African-American sharecroppers suffered the ravages of syphilis, even though a simple cure was discovered early in the study and could relieve them of their suffering at any time.

When Peter Buxton, a venereal disease investigator, joined the study in 1966, he started to raise concerns over the lack of ethical concerns. When his superiors decided to continue their research anyway, he went to the papers. In the ensuing investigation, it was revealed that the men in the study had, in many cases, also given the disease to their wives and passed it on to their children. The study was stopped and the government was forced to pay the participants and pay for their medical care for the rest of their lives.

5. Frank Serpico

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After a hardscrabble youth on the streets of Brooklyn and a stint in the Korean War, Frank Serpico joined the New York Police Department in 1959. He rose through the ranks and quickly was promoted to plainclothes work exposing racketeering. Unfortunately for him, Frank Serpico was just about the only honest cop in New York City at the time. Appalled by the rampant corruption he saw all around him, Serpico went to his superiors with his evidence and waited while the charges made their way through the convoluted department bureaucracy. Unfortunately, the officers who weren’t so honest didn’t appreciate some upstart detective fouling up the good thing they had going.

Things only got worse when Serpico, out of fear that he was about to be discovered by his coworkers, went to the New York Times with the whole story. His courage led to the creation of the Knapp Commission and his testimony helped the badly tarnished New York Police Department clean up their act. Well, a little, anyway. Serpico paid a dear price for his whistle-blowing however as he was shot in the face during a job and wasn’t assisted by his fellow officers. Serpico survived the attack and soon retired from the force. He took his share of the hit book and film royalties (he also got to be played by Al Pacino) of his story and ended up living in the Swiss mountains for ten years. He remains today one of the prime examples of what one person can do if they have the courage to blow the whistle.

4. Karen Silkwood

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Karen Silkwood was a worker at the Kerr-McGee nuclear power plant in Oklahoma. Silkwood soon became active in the Oil. Chemical, and Atomic Workers Union and was in charge of investigating the health and safety concerns of workers at the plant. Despite the company’s assurances, Silkwood found what she believed were major violations of health and safety regulations. She reported her concerns to The Atomic Energy Commission, hoping that Kerr-McGee would make their workplace safer. Instead, her life became a living hell. Almost immediately after she went to AEC, Silkwood tested positive for massive plutonium exposure. Unable to determine where she had been exposed, investigators found that several surfaces in her house had been contaminated with plutonium. Kerr-McGee claimed she was deliberately exposing herself to create sympathy, while Silkwood alleged the company was giving her contaminated testing equipment.

Frustrated and afraid for her  and her family’s health, Silkwood decided to show her evidence to The New York Times. She left a union meeting with binders and documents to meet the reporters. She never arrived. Police found her car run off the road and Silkwood dead inside. There were no documents to be found. The case remains controversial and Kerr-McGee has always denied any wrong doing. Still, the chilling end of Karen Silkwood is a reminder that sometimes the price of blowing the whistle can be very high indeed.

3. Bradley Manning

Bradley_Manning

Although the long term ramifications of his act have yet to play out, Bradley Manning has definitely earned a place among the most famous whistleblowers of all time. A low level Army intelligence analyst, Manning was single-handedly responsible for one of the largest leaks of classified data in the history of the world. Serving in Iraq, Manning circumvented Army security and downloaded hundreds of thousands of documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as pages after page of diplomatic cables.

Frustrated with the war, and his treatment by the army, he passed the trove on to Julian Assange, who rel;eased them to several newspapers and is currently in the process of publishing them on Wikileaks. Despite the lack of a clear “smoking gun” in the documents – they mostly add color to events already known or suspected – and Manning’s murky reasons for releasing them, it still remains an impressive revelation. It will take years for the true value of the document’s release to be gauged, but Manning will go down in history as a man who – right or wrong- ripped the lid off United States foreign policy in the 21st Century and forever changed the face of whistle-blowing.

2. Daniel Ellsberg

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Long before Bradley Manning downloaded government documents onto Lady Gaga CDs, another man walked out of his government office with hundreds of documents that catalogued in great detail the malfeasance of American government institutions. The man, Daniel Ellsberg, was a graduate of Harvard, former Marine Lieutenant, Pentagon official, and researcher for the RAND Corporation think tank. Originally a supporter of the Vietnam War (and combatant in it) Ellsberg became disillusioned and decided he had an obligation to do whatever he could to try and bring the war to an end. Luckily for him, he had access to a report commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara that became known as thePentagon Papers. The report detailed not only the history of the U.S.’s involvement in the war, but also how the White House had repeatedly lied to the public and Congress about their prosecution of it.

Originally, Ellsberg only circulated it among friends, but once the New York Times got a hold of it, he decided to leak it to several major American newspapers. A patriot at heart, he then surrendered to the U.S. Attorney’s Office to stand trial. At the trial, it was revealed that the same burglars who had broken into The Watergate had also broken into his doctor’s office looking for incriminating evidence. This, coupled with the revelation that the government had illegal wiretapped Ellsberg, led to his release. Ellsberg continued his anti-war activism, and remains today a hero for all those who believe a transparent government is an essential condition of democracy.

1. W. Mark Felt (Deep Throat)

W. Mark Felt

Although more than 40 years have passed since W. Mark Felt (then known only as Deep Throat) spilled his secrets to Robert Woodward in a dark Washington carpark, he still remains the most famous whistleblower of all time. The details of the case are well known. For many years, the administration of Richard Nixon had been involved in illegal break-ins, covert operations, and campaign violations. But if it hadn’t been for Felt, these events may have remained secret forever. His inside information on the Watergate Scandal helped Robert Woodward and Carl Bernstein publish a series of damning articles in the Washington Post and indirectly led to the destruction of Richard Nixon’s presidency.

But why did he do it? Associate Director of the FBI at the time, some have speculated that he was upset at being passed over for the Directorship after J.Edgar Hoover died, while others have claimed he was a profoundly moral man who felt he had a patriotic duty to expose the malfeasance of a corrupt Administration. Whatever his reasons, W. Mark Felt’s leaks did no less than change the way the American public viewed its most powerful institutions. From that time forward, the American people would no longer implicitly trust the president, and a deep culture of pessimism continues to surround almost every aspect of political life in the United States. All because W. Mark Felt told someone the truth.


Whistle-Blower Handbook

– WIF Spotlight