Category Archives: Historical

Happy Birthday Charles de Gaulle

On November 22, 1890, Charles de Gaulle was born in Lille, France.  He is best known for leading Free France against the Nazi occupation in World War II, then becoming the symbol of post-war France by organizing the Fifth Republic in 1958 and serving as president until 1969.  He was also a decorated officer in

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Happy Birthday — Radio

On November 2nd, 1920, radio station KDKA in Pittsburg, PA broadcast the first regular radio transmission in the US — the Harding-Cox presidential election results.  Only about 5000 people owned radios at that time, and no one was quite sure how to use this new technology. Some wanted radio used for the good of everyone, funded

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Dazzle Them With Camouflage

Having had a career in the military, I know something about camouflage.  A common opinion is good camouflage is supposed to make you disappear into the background (which has led to a lot of jokes, particularly about stealth technology).  Actually all camouflage has to do is make a recognizable shape unrecognizable, if only for a

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Who Was the Most-Feared Pirate?

Despite what you’ve read — or seen in the movies — many think the most-feared pirate was actually a Chinese woman.  Her name was Ching Shih (widow of Cheng), nicknamed Madame Ching, and she lived from 1775 until 1844.   Her territory was the China Sea in the early 19th century. She began as a Cantonese

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A Lesson From The Great Sausage Duel

Have you ever heard about The Great Sausage Duel of 1865?  It’s not completely obscure, with 426 hits on Google.  The incident is described in a 2014 article on the “Skulls in the Stars” website (https://skullsinthestars.com/2014/11/01/the-great-sausage-duel-of-1865/ ). The two protagonists are the Minister President of Prussia Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898) and Rudolf Virchow (1821-1902), who

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History Repeats Itself Again

I’ve been following the recent news about the so-called “Dreamer” program, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative that President Obama created by executive order late in his administration, and the actions the Trump administration are taking to undo the program.  As such, I ran across an item that suggests this is not the

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The First Radical Abolitionist?

If I mention Frederick Douglass or Harriet Tubman, you probably think abolitionist.  But have you ever heard about Benjamin Lay? Benjamin Lay was a most unusual radical.  He stood just over four feet tall and had an extreme curvature of the spine (kyphosis).  Born in 1682 in Colchester, England, he was a third-generation Quaker.  As

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What Is It Like Being a Slave?

I got one.  Driving last weekend to see the solar eclipse (you may have heard about that), I happened to catch one of my favorite radio podcasts in real time, “This American Life” on NPR.  If you’ve never listened, each hour-long program has a theme, divided into acts.  This was Program 623: “We Are The

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