Friday, May 31, 2013

Dolphins Discover 130-Year-Old Torpedo

From the May 21, 2013, Yahoo! Today by David Strege.

A bottle-nosed dolphin named Ted discovered a self-propelled Howell torpedo in March, not far from the famous Hotel del Coronado in San Diego.  A week later, another dolphin named Spetz confirmed it.

Divers went down to the site and recovered the torpedo.  It is still unclear how it got there.  It is now being kept in a tank of water to prevent corrosion.

The U.S. Navy has some 80 dolphins and 40 sea lions trained for mine detection, mine clearing and swimmer protection.

This is a historical torpedo in that only 50 were built between 1870 and 1889, and it was the first that was self-propelled and guided.  Torpedoes used during the Civil War were actually what we'd call mines today.  As far as propulsion, they would have to be brought into contact with enemy ships.

This was the first torpedo as we know them to be used by the Navy and were made of brass, 11 feet long and could cruise for up to 400 yards at 25 knots.  They were named after their inventor, John A. Howell.

Only one other example is known to exist at the Navy Underseas Museum in Keyport, Washington.

Found.  A Bit of History.  --Cooter

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Indy 500 Fast Facts-- Part 2

Some more stuff about the Indy 500 that I didn't know.  Again, answers below.

5.  How much G-Force does the driver feel in the turns?

6.  What year was the first Indy 500 race?  Who won?

7.  What was the fewest number of cars to finish the race?

8.  Who holds the record for leading the most laps?  How many?

9.  What do you and all Indy car drivers have in common?

And, I'm adding this one since most Indy fans I talked to had no idea.

10..  What man is most responsible for there being and Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy 500 race?

Answers below:

5.  4 g's

6.  1911, Ray Harroud won, or might have.  There is some question.

7.  seven cars in 1966

8.  Billy Arnold, 198 laps  (Hoping that he won.)

9.  Death

10.. Carl Fisher

By the way, the pavement after the guy gave me the card was completely covered with these cards.

I Flunked the Test.  --DaCoot

Indy 500 Fast Facts-- Part 1

I am getting these from a card handed to me by a religious zealot as I was walking to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this past Sunday.  Of course, with all these people assembled in one place, there would be certain religious groups preaching and brimstoning non-believers to hell.  I found one group on Saturday night of particular interest.

So, test your Indy knowledge.  I didn't get a single one right.  Answers below the questions:

1.  How many seats does the track have?

2.  What was the largest margin of victory (time)?

3.  Who is the oldest driver to win the Indy 500?  How old was he?

4.  Who has had the most xcareer starts?

Answers below:

1.  250,000 seats

2.  13 minutes, 8.4 seconds

3.  Al Unser, 47

4.  A.J. Foyt

Five More Questions Coming.  --Cooter

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Roman Catholics Through the Years AD 30 to AD 2200 (est.)

From the March 3, 2013, Chicago Tribune "The power of the papacy."

30--  as many as 10,000
100--  170,000
300--  4.9 million
500--  12.7 million
800--  15.9 million
1000--  18.9 million
1350--  47.2 million
1500--  44.8 million
1650--  60.1 million
1750--  82.4 million
1800--  106.4 million
1850--  163.2 million
1900--  265.6 million
2000--  1.04 billion
2010--  1.17 billion

Interesting to note the big drop between 1350 and 1500 and the huge growth after 1850.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Popes of the Catholic Church-- Part 8

Continuing with the March 3, 2013, Chicago Tribune article "Focus Papal Legacy."

1939:  Pope Pius XII becomes pope seven months before the outbreak of World War II and his efforts to remain neutral cause great controversy.  Some accuse him of indifference to the persecution of Jews.  His supporters point to his behind-the-scenes efforts to save victims of the Nazis.

1962:  Pope John XXIII opens the Second Vatican Council which continued under his successor, Paul VI.  This effort caused major changes in church doctrine and a big one was allowing Mass to be said in languages other than Latin as well as supporting friendship with other faiths.

1978:   John Paul I dies just a month into his reign.  His successor, John Paul II, is a vigorous, charismatic Polish-born pope.  He is the first non-Italian pontiff in more than 450 years.  During his papacy, he makes more than 100 international trips, survives an assassination attempt and changes the worldwide image of the church.  A 1979 Mass in Chicago's Grant Park attracted 200,000 worshippers.

2013:  Pope Benedict XVI is the first pope in nearly 600 years to abdicate St. Peter's Throne.

And, there you have it, a very short history of the popes of the Catholic Church.

Popes of the Catholic Church-- Part 7

1633:  Pope Urban VIII, who had once been a friend of Italian physicist Galileo Galilei, orders he be put on trial for theorizing that the earth revolves around the sun.  Galileo is found guilty of heresy.  This is part of what is called The Inquisition, a centuries-long crackdown on heretics and nonbelievers (essentially anyone disagreeing with church doctrine and especially Protestants).  Many are imprisoned, tortured or killed..

1799:  Pope Pius VI dies in prison.  He had denounced Napoleon during the French Revolution and Napoleon had him thrown in prison when he invaded Italy.  At the time, many feared Pius was to be the last pope.

1870:  As part of the unification of Italy, the church loses dominion over Rome.  Also, the demise of the Papal States in central Italy led Pope Pius IX to call himself a "prisoner of the Vatican.  For the next 59 years, popes would not leave the Vatican because they did not accept the Italian government's claims to the surrounding area.

The 1929 Lateran Treaty established Vatican City as the Roman Catholic Church's sovereign domain.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Popes of the Catholic Church-- Part 6

1501--  Alexander VI, one of the most notorious popes dies.  A member of the Borgio family, he is a womanizer who bribed his way to the papacy.  According to one story of his death, he tried to poison a rival with a drink, but had them switched accidentally.

1521--  As the papacy grew in power, the corruption and abuse also grew.  Martin Luther strongly objected to the sale of indulgences, which forgave sins.  They were being sold to pay for the new St. Peter's Basilica.

Martin Luther issues his 95 Theses which led to the Protestant Reformation.

In 1521, Pope Leo X excommunicated Luther, but that didn't stop the Reformation.

1582--  Gregory XIII orders the use of the more accurate Gregorian calendar which introduced leap year and meant that the day after October 4th that year became Oct. 15th.  It was decades before the Protestant countries adopted the new calendar.


Popes of the Catholic Church-- Part 5

1198-1216--  Pope Innocent III  rules at the height of papal power in the Medieval Ages.  He consolidated the power of the Papal States in current-day Italy and extended his power over kings and queens.  He held priests to higher moral standards, demanded spiritual frugality and ran the Curia (papal court).

During his time, the Fourth Crusade went awry and ended with the sacking of Constantinople in 1204.  He ruled the Magna Carta void and that all Muslims and Jews had to wear distinctive dress.

1271--  Gregory X is elected pope after a nearly three-year process that ended only when the cardinals were locked in a room and forced to decide.  In 1274, Gregory establishes the process where a "conclave" is held.

1378--  By this year, there had been nearly 40 antipopes, essentially antichrists.  This year, the first antipope, St. Hippolytus is canonized.  He had fought three other popes from 217-235 over being too lenient on people he considered to be heretics.

Some of the most famous antipopes were the latter Avignon popes of the Western Schism.  Urban VI was elected amid controversy in April 1378.  In August, French cardinals declared his election invalid and elected a French nobleman, Robert of Geneva, in his place.  The Great Western Schism continued for many years with both groups excommunicating each other.  Eventually it ended in 1417.

More to Come. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Popes of the Catholic Church-- Part 4

1054--  The East-West Schism between the Eastern orthodox churches and the Roman Catholic Church comes to a climax as Pope Leo IX and the patriarch of Constantinople excommunicate each other.

1073-1085--  Gregory VII, one of the most influential popes, transforms the papacy and changes the way the church interacts with Europe's kings and queens.  He forbade simony, the buying and selling of church offices and spiritual vlessings., though the practice continued to cause problems for centuries.

He claimed supremacy over all Christendom,  forbade the common practice of royalty appointing bishops and ordered all clergy to pledge allegiance to the pope.

King Henry IV of the Holy Roman Empire answered by deposing Gregory, who then excommunicated Henry.

1095--Pope Urban II launched the First crusade to retake the Holy Land from the Muslims.  He died two weeks after the Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099, but the news didn't reach him in time.

And, So It Goes.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Lincoln Slept Here, He Really Did

Go most anywhere in Illinois, and you find places claiming that Abraham Lincoln slept there.  The Monahan-Lincoln home in Sterling, Illinois, is one place he did according to records.

And he did it before the Lincoln-Douglas debates, back in 1856 when he was stumping for the new Republican Party's first presidential candidate, Fremont.  He was originally to spend the night at his friend from downstate, Wilson, a member of the Long Nine group of politicians, responsible for having the state capital moved from Vandalia to Springfield.  However, Wilson's wife had had a bad fall from a horse and was unable to be a host, so this house was selected.

The home was in great disrepair, but a local group acquired it and spent much time and money returning it to its former appearance.

We were able to stop at it on Saturday's Illinois Lincoln Highway Motor Tour across the state and it was a real highlight.

Thanks, Kay Sheton, for the Opportunity.  --Cooter

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Some Historical Things to See Around Clinton, Iowa

ASHFORD UNIVERSITY FIELD--  home of their baseball team and the Midwest League Class A LumberKings.  A classic minor league field right by the Mississippi River.

CLINTON PUBLIC LIBRARY--  Housed in a Carnegie building for over a hundred years.

CURTIS MANSION--  Restored Victorian home of Lumber Baron George M. Curtis.

EAGLE POINT LODGE--  Built 1937.  Overlooks Mississippi River and Lock and Dam 13.

EAGLE POINT PARK--  200-acre park on the Mississippi River bluffs.

HISTORICAL SOCIETY MUSEUM--  Permanent collection of old photographs and an authentic 1924 kitchen.

SAWMILL MUSEUM-- Clinton's history as the "Lumber Capital of the World.

And, That's Just Some of the Stuff.  --Cooter

Friday, May 17, 2013

26% of Scots in First World War Didn't Return

From the February 27, 2013, Herald Scotland by Colin Campbell.

The population of the United Kingdom in 1911 was 42,138,000 and Scotland 4,751,000.

At the Battle of Loos, on September 25, 1915, 36 of the 72 attacking battalions were Scottish and of the 12 that suffered 500 or more casualties, eight were Scottish.

At the Battle of Arras, April 9, 1917, 44 of the battalions engaged were Scottish.

Some 26.4% of Scottish troops did not come home.  That is compared to the United Kingdom and Irish 11.8% and France's 16.8%.  Only Serbia and the Turks had higher percentages.

Scotland's adult male population dropped by 3.1%.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Popes of the Catholic Church-- Part 3

451:  Leo the Great has the Chalcedon Council in which he successfully argues for the dual human-divine nature of Jesus Christ.  He is also later credited for persuading Attila the Hun to leave Ital and spare Rome in 452.

He was also the first pope to claim to be a successor to Peter and the papacy as supreme authority over the church.

867:  Adrian II becomes head of the church and is the last married pope.

897:  Pope Stephen VII orders the corpse of his predecessor, Formosus, dug up, dressed in papal vestments and put on trial for violations of church law.  The body is convicted in what is called the Cadaver Synod, and the three fingers used to give blessing cut off.  The corpse is then tossed into the Tiber River, but later recovered and reburied.

More to Come.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A to Z Just Ended

Well, this covers a lot of Classic Rock history.  I've been listening to a lot of the show this past week.

That's some eight days and over 2,000 songs straight through for WDRV.  I can start listening to my Beach Music and Americana Music again.

I've been following it in my Down Da Road Blog ever since last Wednesday.  Actually, this post was supposed to be in that blog, but I forgot I was in the history blog.  But, after all, it is history.


Young Americans--  David Bowie
Empty Spaces/Young Lust--  Pink Floyd
Your Love--  Outfield
Your Mama Don't Dance--  Loggins & Messina
Your Mother Should Know--  Beatles
Your Song--  Elton John
Your Time Is Gonna Come--  Led Zeppelin
Your Wildest Dreams--  Moody Blues
Yours Is No Disgrace--  Yes

Ziggy Stardust--  David Bowie
The Zoo--  Scorpions

Started at 4 PM last Tuesday, Ended at 8:47 Today. 

Can't Wait Until the Next Time.  --RoadDog

Popes of the Catholic Church-- Part 2: On This Rock, I Will Build My Church.

Very little is known about the early popes.  Some early papal succession lists show Linus as being the first bishop of Rome.  AD 60: St. Peter is historically considered to be the first pope, it is unlikely that he was the first bishop in Rome.  When he arrived in Rome in 60 AD, he found a Christian community already in existence.

As one of the original Apostles, Peter played a major role in the Gospels and the early years of the church.  In the New Testament, Jesus refers to him when he says, "On this rock, I will build my church."

The confusion with the early popes is due to the fact that the infant Christian Church was outlawed and early Christians were subject to periodic persecution which didn't end until the 4th century when Emperor Constantine I made Christianity legal.  Christianity was declared the state religion of the Roman Empire in 380.

By 325: the papacy's power had increased and two ecumenical councils were held.  The First Council in Nicaea in 325 and the Council of Chalcedon 125 years later.

The council was the first to define the divinity of Jesus.  They also set the formula by which the date of Easter is decided.  However, the current pope at the time, Sylvester wasn't there, he was back in Rome.

More to Come.

Popes of the Catholic Church-- Part 1

From the March 3, 2013, Chicago Tribune "The power of the papacy" by Stephan Benzkofer, Ron Grossman, Mark Jacob and Chad Yoder.

With all of the hoopla leading to the selection of the new pope to replace Pope Benedict who was the first pope to abdicate in 600 years, the Tribune's crack team of researchers, especially Benzkofer and Jacob who do those excellent ten things you didn't know columns every so often, did a huge amount of work to come up with a two-page spread listing every pope there ever was.

Personally, I didn't think popes were allowed to resign/abdicate.  Pope John Paul II was in such poor health at the end of his papacy, that he should have done so.

Some popes reigned for a long times, others for a very short period.  From 1045 to 1049, there were seven popes.  Pope John Paul I died just one month into his reign in 1978.

"Spanning three millenniums, the papacy is one of history's most enduring institutions.  Catholics believe the men who serve as pope--  from St. Peter in the first century through Benedict XVI in the 21st--  constitute an unbroken lineage back to Jesus Christ.

How the more than 260 popes built up the power, stature and influence of the papacy is a remarkable story."

More to Come.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

How to Play Diplomacy

From the March 1, 2013, Chicago Tribune obituary "Inventor of the board game Diplomacy" by Joan Giangrasse Kates.  The two previous entries on Allan B. Calhamer's death also came from this article.

"Described as a 'thinking man's version of the popular game Risk, Diplomacy is a seven-player game based on the balance of power in pre-World War I Europe.  Players are free to bluff and back-stab one another to attain dominance.

Each of seven major powers--  Austria, England, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Turkey-- begins the game with three or four pieces in its home country.  To win, one player must occupy 18 of 34 supply centers.  Pieces represent entities such as naval fleets and armies.

'One of the knocks on Diplomacy is that it is a game that ruins friendships' said Jim O'Kelly.'" 

And, I never did anything else with those guys, but I'm a bad loser.

Et Tu, Brutus?  --DaCoot

Deaths: Diplomacy: The Background of a Game-- Part 2

He was rejected by several game companies, and in 1959, he self-published 500 copies of his game, called Diplomacy.  It soon has a small, but dedicated following.  Within six months, these sold out and the board game company Avalon Hill bought the rights, and the rest is history.

Mr. Calhamer died February 25th.

Now, hundreds of thousands of copies have been sold,.  Games are even played on the internet (not by me, even if I knew how).  The game involves not just rolls of dice, but interaction between players who have to stab-the-back to world domination.

John F. Kennedy and Henry Kissinger were reportedly fans of it.  Games Magazine has named it to its Hall of Fame. 

You are the master of your own fate.  But, unlike chess where the best tactician wins, it is about negotiation, persuasion and the ability to read other players.

A Hate It.  --Cooter

Deaths: Diplomacy: The Background of a Game

ALLAN B. CALHAMER (1931-2013)

Of all the games ever made, this one has probably caused more friendships to fall apart than any other.  I played it exactly once and was ready to physically attack some former friends that I felt had stabbed me in the back, which is the premise for the board game Diplomacy.

I just can't behave like that, even in a game.  I went down fast as Austria-Hungary (if I recall).  Then sulked the rest of the evening.

The origins of the game date back to when Allan B. Calhamer was a boy and discovered an old geography book in the attic of his La Grange Park home and found the old, pre-WW I, country borders in Europe.  "That was the seed of the game," he later recalled.

The final inspiration came when he was at Harvard in a class on 19th-century Europe. and he read his professor's book "The Origins of the World War."

"That brought everything together.  I thought, 'What a board game that would make.'"

Never Again,  Never Again, Says I.  --DaCoot

No. 1 With a Bullet: Name That Gun

From the Feb. 6, 2013, Chicago Tribune by Rebecca Keegan.

Ever wonder what kind of guns you are seeing used in the movies?  Now, you can find out.  Well, that is a Glock-17 in "Skyfall" and Zero Dark Thirty."  James Bond's sidearm of choice is a Walther PPK/S and the long-barreled rifles the Prohibition agents use in HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" are Winchesters.

You can find out your gun needs at the Internet Movie Firearms Database (IMFDB), a fan-build catalog of the weapons started by Christopher Serrano, 29, of Glendora, California.  He and 300 regular volunteers have catalogued the weapons in 11,500 articles and not just firearms, but underwater firearms, missile launchers, flame-throwers and others.

It is somewhat like Amazon's Internet Movie Database (IMDB).

Jaime Foxx in "Django Unchained" carries a variant of a Sharps rifle and Remington 1858 Cattleman's Carbine.

Pop culture movies and guns go back to 1903's "The Great Train Robbery" and you can find all of them at IMFDB.  In case you're wondering, the gun Clint Eastwood used in "Gran Torino" was a M1-Garand.

"Bang Bang, My Baby Shot Me Down."  --Cooter

Monday, May 13, 2013

Found: One English King's Remains Under a Parking Lot-- Part 2

Skeletal analysis showed that the individual was male, in late 2-s to early 30s.  Richard III was 32 when he was killed.  Trauma to the skeleton shows death was the result of one or two wounds to the back of the skull that could have been made by a sword or halberd (a type of ax).  This is consistent with accounts of his death..

The skeleton also had a number of non-fatal injuries.

Richard III reigned for two years until his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, the last major dynastic fight in the War of the Roses that had been fought on and off since 1455.  Richard was the last English king to be killed in battle and his death brought to an end three centuries of Plantagenet rule and ushered in the Tudors, starting with Henry VII and including the famous Henry VIII.

Richard III remains the prime suspect in the disappearance of his nephews. However, modern views of him are strongly influenced by Shakespeare's portrayal in his play, Richard III as a power-hungry, Machiavellian scoundrel who murders anyone who stands in his way to power.

Historians point out that he was a progressive leader who led the way for a system of bail and the presumption of innocence until found guilty.

Maybe Not So bad of a Guy.  --DaCoot

Paterson, NJ Seeks to Capitalize on "Twin Landmarks"

April 13, 2013, Yahoo! News, AP "NJ city seeks to capitalize on its 'twin landmarks'" by Samantha Henry.

I'd never heard of either of these places mentioned in the article, both of which are significant to te history of the United States.

The article was mainly about Paterson, New Jersey's1932 Hinchcliffe Stadium which is deteriorating from years of neglect.  This place was once the home field of three Negro League teams: the New York Black Yankees, New York Cubans and the Newark Eagles.  Such notables as Satchel Page and Larry Doby donned uniforms and a total of eleven Major League Hall of Famers who played there are enshrines at Cooperstown.

The art deco styled stadium was designated a National Landmark in March.

The other landmark is the 77-foot waterfall at the nearby Great Falls whose power helped fuel the Industrial Revolution.  Some two billion gallons of water pass over the falls every day, making it the second biggest waterfall east of the Mississippi (Niagara Falls being the other one)  .It became a National Park recently.

Paterson is a once powerful city struggling with crime and finances these days.  Back in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the city's textile mills turned out so much, it became known as "The Silk City."  There is great hope that these twin landmarks will help recoup some of that prosperity.

Hinchcliffe Stadium is owned by the city's school system which shut it down in 1975 due to finances

Today, Paterson is 60% Latino and 30% black.  It is estimated that it will take $2 million to bring the stadium back to its former glory.  The financially strapped city recently voted to put $1.5 million in the effort.

Here's Hoping for a Return for Hinchcliffe Stadium, Especially after the Recent "42" Movie.  --Cooter

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Found: One English King's Remains Under a Parking Lot-- Part 1

From the February 5, 2013, USA Today "The winter of his discontenty no more?" by Naomi Westland.

Five centuries after Richard III was buried, the last Plantagent king, his skeleton was found under a Leicester city parking lot.  This brings to a close the long-debated question of what happened after he was killed in battle 528 years ago.  Tests are being made on the skeleton to learn more.

His remains will be reburied in Leicester Cathedral.

The skeleton was found last September during a University of Leicester dig at the site of a former medieval church, Grey Friars, now a parking lot for a social services office.  Imagine someone parking over the grave of an English king?  (Or, leaking oil on it?)

It had a Roman nail and head injuries which are consistent with records of his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.  It also had a curved spine, fitting with reports that one of his shoulders was higher than the other.

Over the last four months, many tests have been done on the remains including a computed-tomography *(CT) and radio carbon-dating.  Medieval military specialists have advised on the types of weapons that would have caused the skull damage.  Also DNA test have been made, comparing it with a sample of Canadian furniture-maker Michael Ibsen, 55, now confirmed, along with his siblings as the 17th-generation descendant of Richard III's sister, Anne of York.

Found You.  --Cooter

50th Anniversary of the Sinking of the Thresher

From the April 5, 2013 Yahoo! News, AP "U.S. sub sinking 50 years ago led to safety changes" by David Sharp.

The first sign of trouble that day in 1963 was a garbled message about a "minor difficulty" at 1000 feet on a routine test dive.

Minutes later, the crew of the rescue ship, USS Skylark heard "exceeding test depth" and then listened as the sub disintegrated under pressure.  The nuclear submarine Thresher and 129 men were gone.

It was the deadliest U.S. sub disaster in American history and a blow to national pride during the height of the Cold War.

This weekend, there will be memorial services in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery, Maine.  The Thresher was built at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery and based in Groton, Connecticut.  The Thresher was the first in its class and the world's first fast attack submarine when it was commissioned.

The 278 foot long submarine could dive deeper and stay underwater for an unlimited amount of time.

It hit bottom at 8,500 feet on April 10, 1963.

Always Sad When Something Like That Happens. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Deaths: The "Car Guy"


Died may 4th.  In 1955, painted James Dean's Porsche 550 Spyder "Little Bastard" killed a month later.  Also painted Indy 500 cars, created "Black Beauty" for 1960s  TV show "The Green Hornet" and built the "Monkeemobile" for "The Monkees" in just ten days.

Built vehicles for movies, including a moon buggy for James Bond in  "Diamonds Are Forever."

Also a stunt driver and stunt producer/coordinator on films like "The Blues Brothers" and "The Fugitive."  The trolley in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" was also his.

A Bunch of My Favorite Shows.

Ten Ridiculous Attempts to Legislate Personal Responsibility

From the Feb. 16, 2013 Listverse by Mike Floorwalker.

10.  BIG SODAS--  Most recently in NYC, any drinks with straight sugar. (OK, give me two 16-ouncers)
9.  HEELS AND JEWELRY--  In European Union.  Well, actually, just on hairdressers.
8.  HAPPY HOUR--  In many states, including Massachusetts and Illinois.  (No fun here.)

7.  GORY MOVIES--  The UK against violent horror films (Must not like Freddie.)
6.  SODA--  A Utah school was fined $15,000 for their pop.
5.  RARE BURGERS--  In UK.  (I used to like 'em that way, now, medium rare)
4.  PAJAMAS IN PUBLIC--  Louisiana

3.  FAT--  Denmark has a tax on fatty foods (What, no Danish?)
2.  SMOKES--  New Zealand.  Currently has $15 tax on a pack and discussing going to $100.
1.  KETCHUP--  France is banning it in schools while the US once considered classifying it as a vegetable.  (Can't imagine "French" fries w/o ketchup, or is it catsup?)

What About Prohibition?  --DaCoot

The First Supermarket

In 1930, the King Kullen Grocery Company in Long Island became the first supermarket as the way we know them.  However, there is some dispute on that claim.

Today, Wal-Mart is the largest, accounting for 22% of American food sales in 2010..  It is followed by Kroger, Costco and Safeway.

Clean Up On Aisle 16.  --Cooter

Deaths: Blue Screen/Green Screen


Died February 10, 2013.  Two-time Academy Award winner whose blue-screen and green screen techniques on movies like "Mary Poppins" and "Ben Hur" made the modern blockbuster possible.

"Created the whole of composite photography from 'Mary Poppins dancing with the penguin, going up to 'Life of Pi.'"

He also did "The Love Bug" and "Bedknobs and Broomsticks."  His technique was also used in "Star Wars" and "Avatar."

And, I really love my movies.  Thanks, Mr. Vlahos.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Tarzan's Cheeta(h) Dies, Well, Maybe

Died at age 80, December 24, 2011, at the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary in Palm Harbor, Florida.

Believed to have performed in the Tarzan films in the 1930s.  Like I said, this one was thought to be the real Cheeta, but it is known that several were used in the films and, chimpanzees grow as they age.

Appeared in "Tarzan the Ape man" in 1932 and "Tarzan and His Mate" in 1934.  Those would be with Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan and Maureen O'Sullivan as Jane.

Weep No More for Cheeta.  --DaCoot

Ten Famous Rabbits

From the April 22, 2011, Listverse.

All about them "wascally wabbits."

10.  ENERGIZER BUNNY--  debuted in the 1980s and a personal favorite of mine.
9.  HARVEY--  best friend of Elwood P. Dowd, but was he real?  The rabbit, that is?
8.  KILLER RABBIT OF CAERBANNOG--  As appearing in Monty Python's "Search for the Holy Grail."  "Runaway, Runaway!!"  A bunny with a serious 'tude.

7.  RABBIT--  Winnie the Pooh's neurotic friend.
6.  PETER THE RABBIT--  Beatrix Potter's rabbit.
5.  ROGER RABBIT--  From "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?"  That was one funny rabbit.
4.  THE TRIX RABBIT--  Debuted 1954.  "Silly rabbit, Trix is for kids."

3.  THE WHITE RABBIT--  From "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland."  "Oh Dear! Oh Dear! I Shall Be Late!"
2.  BUGS BUNNY--  Debuted in 1946

I'd Like to Add:

Grace Slick's "White Rbbit"
Thumper--  Bambi's friend
And, Route 66's Rich Henry's rabbits in Staunton, Illinois, especially Montana and Big Red.

It's Getting Hoppy In Here.  --Cooter

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Is the Planned Titanic II Safe/Will It Succeed?-- Part 2

Owner Clive Palmer declined to say what it would cost. And, he has enough money.  In 2012, his estimated worth from mining was $795 million.

 Although the original Titanic was the world's largest ship, II will be considerably smaller than today's behemoth cruise ships.  It will be built in China, but the contract has not yet been signed.  Construction should begin this year and its first voyage will be trans-Atlantic in 2016, following the path of the original.

Cruise industry analyst Jaime Katz thinks the ship will have a hard time competing with existing cruise lines, but that it will be marketed to wealthier passengers and should vary its cruises from just Atlantic crossings.

Some will fear going on it because of superstition, but others, like me (albeit, not rich) will appreciate the historical  aspect of it.  And, it looks like a ship, like I said before.

Of interest, passengers will have 1912-era clothing in their cabins should they wish to dress up and really relive the past.

There will be three classes of passengers and Palmer is considering offering packages where people can experience all three.

Definitely a cruise I'd love to take, but probably couldn't afford.

Oh, Well, as Jamie Brockett Said.  --Cooter

Ten Famous Depression-Era Bank Robbers-- Part 2

5.  "BABY FACE" NELSON--  Member of Dillinger gang.  Gunned down in  "The Battle of Barrington" not too far from where we live in Illinois.  Killed two FBI agents and 25 at time of death.

4.  ALVIN KARPIS--  Received life imprisonment in Alcatraz.

3.  BONNIE AND CLYDE--  As in Parker and Barrow.  Shot over 50 times in May 1934.  Great songs and movie.

2.  BARON LAMM--  Considered the "Father of Modern Bank Robbery" with his "Lamm Technique."  First, case the bank, plan get-away route, each gang member assigned specific tasks, rehearsals.  Died at age 40 of self-inflicted wounds after being cornered.

1.  JOHN DILLINGER--  Like they say, "Movies can kill ya."

Bang, Bang, My Baby Shot Me Down.  --DaCoot

Ten Famous Depression-Era Bank Robbers-- Part 1

Of course, with the Word Ten in the Title, it must be Listverse.  From August 1, 2011.  For pictures and more info, go to the site.

10.  JOHN "RED" HAMILTON--  With Dillinger gang.  Died of wounds April 23, 1934.

9.  VOLNEY DAVIS--  He and Edna "Rabbit" Murray robbed banks in the 1930s.  Captured and spent most of life in Alcatraz.

8.  "SLICK" WILLIE SUTTON--  Never carried a loaded gun or killed anyone.  Nicknamed for his many disguises.  Escaped from prison many times but still spent most of adult life in jail.

7.  HOMER VAN METER--  In the John Dillinger gang and had reputation for shooting people.  At age 27, ambushed August 23, 1934 and shot dozens of times and had several fingers blown off.

6.  "PRETTY BOY" FLOYD--  Shot and killed.

Five More, Next.  --Cooter

Monday, May 6, 2013

Is the Planned Titanic II Safe/Will It Succeed?-- Part 1

From the March 1, 2013, Chicago Tribune "Planned Titanic called safe" by Jonathan Allen.

The blueprints of Australian Clive Palmer's Titanic II have been unveiled, but, he stopped short of calling it unsinkable.  Hey, nothing is unsinkable, as the original found out.

The new Titanic will largely recreate the old one's design and decor, but with modifications to keep in line with new safety practices and additional modern comforts such as air conditioning.  But one thing definite is that the three passenger classes will be prevented from mingling.

Palmer created his own ship company, calling it the Blue Star Line, a take on the original's owner, WhiteStar Line.  Unlike the original, however the II will have more than enough spaces on life boats and there will be additional escape staircases.  What they are making may well be the "safest cruise ship in the world."

At Least This Looks More Like a Ship, Not One of Those Floating Boxes That Pass As Cruise Ships Today.  --Cooter

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Things Most (Well Many) People Get Wrong

From the December 12, 2010, Listverse "15 Factlets Most People Get Wrong."  Always interesting stuff here.  I just picked out ones of interest to me.

1.  When a person is livid they are ashen (pale), not red.

2.  Model T Fords originally came in a variety of colors, not just black.  But, between 1914 and 1925, they came in just black.

4.  Black boxes on planes are not black.  They are orange to make locating them easier.

5.  Pirates did not have people walk the plank.  They just threw them overboard.

7.  Covered bridges were not done so as to protect people from the elements as they passed over it, but to make the bridge last longer.

10.  The famous "Whistler's Mother" painting was originally called "Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1: A Portrait of the Painter's Mother."

13.  U.S. ship captains can not perform marriages unless they are ordained clergy.

I did not know 1, 2, 5 or 13.

Stuff You Learn Doing This.  --DaCoot

Here's a Quiz For You

Can you name the last ten presidents in order?  If you get stumped for names, look at the previous entry.


My Presidential Rankings

This is how I would rank our last nine presidents, plus Obama.

1.  Reagan
2.  H.W. Bush
3.  Nixon

4.  JFK
5.  Carter
6.  LBJ

7.  Ford
8.  George W. Bush
9.  Obama
10.  Clinton

Just My Opinion.  --DaCoot

Presidential Job Rating

In the last 50 years, we've had nine presidents.  Here is a 2010 Gallup Poll on how people think they handled the job their job well.

2006 rating/2010 rating/% change

JFK  84/ 85/ +1%
Reagan  71 /74/ +3%
Clinton  61/ 69/ +8%

George H.W. Bush  56/ 64/ +8%
Ford  60/ 61/ +1%
Carter  61/ 52/ -9%

LBJ   41/ 49/ +8%
George W. Bush  79/ 47/  -32%
Nixon  28/ 29/ +1%

My Rankings Next.  --Cooter

Friday, May 3, 2013

Railroads in McHenry County-- Part 8

Finishing Up.

The oldest railroad station in Illinois is the one at the Illinois Railroad Museum in Union.

My village, Spring Grove, Illinois, wanted to get its village charter, but didn't have enough people.  So, they counted railroad workers while it was being built and became one.

Ninety years ago in McHenry County, high school basketball teams traveled to other towns by train, played the game, stayed overnight and then came back by train the next morning.

One audience member said their parents were hit by a train by the Rusty Nail in Ringwood.  Their mother was pregnant, but survived.

Of Interest.  --DaCoot

Oldest Person in US Dies at 113

ELSIE THOMPSON  (April 5, 1899-March 21, 2013)

Died just weeks from her 114th birthday.  Born Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania.  Her husband was Ronald Thompson, a Republican Pennsylvania state representative.  Moved to Clearwater, Florida, in 1971.

Said the secret to her longevity was loving people and greeting each day with a smile.

She, however, wasn't the oldest person in the world.  That would have been Maria Radaelli, of Italy who was two days older, but she has since died on April 3, 2013.

I don't know who the oldest people in the world or the United States are now.

What She Lived Through. 

Deaths: TV and Movies


Died April 28th.  Directed 110 episodes of one of my favorite TV shows, "The Jeffersons.  Also 15 episodes of "Sanford and Son and 14 of "Designing Women."  Also, two of my favorite shows.  He also worked with Bob Hope om a lot of his Christmas shows.


Died April 20th in Paris where she was in seclusion since 1949.  Canadian-born and a major actress in the 30s and 40s.  Winston Churchill called her his favorite actress and Anne Frank had her picture on her wall in their secret quarters in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam.

Her hair, make-up and on-screen outfits set fashion trends worldwide.

Her first big movie was "Three Smart Girls at age 13 and she became one of the industry's highest-paid stars.  She was passed over for the role of Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" as she was too old.

I Hadn't Heard of Either of These People, But They Had Impact.

Ten Greatest Art Crimes

From the October 31, 2010, Listverse.

These are bad things that can go wrong to good paintings.

10.. Appropriation
9.  Vandalism
8.  Improper Care

7.  Trafficking
6.  Forgery
5.  Fraud
4.  Theft

3.  Mass Destruction
2.  Looting
1. Homicide

Go to the site to find out more about these.

How About Way-Too-Expensive Prices?  --Cooter

Thursday, May 2, 2013

History's Top Ten Really Bad Years-- Part 2

Continued from April 30th.

5.  OSCAR WILDER sentenced to hard labor in 1895 for "sodomy and gross indecency," eight months after "Importance of Being Earnest was published.  Died two years after getting out of prison, broke and a social outcast.

4.  PHINEAS GAGE had a spike driven through his skull in 1848 and survived it.  He was back at work ten weeks later, but a changed man.  (I would guess.)

3.  KING EDWARD II deposed in 1327 by his wife and her lover.  Murdered in prison either by smothering or a red-hot poker up his rectum.  (I'd have to choose smothering.)  His son Edward III avenged his father and had his mother, Isabella and her lover executed.

2.  PETER ABELHARD was castrated for his affair with Heloise in 1117.

1.  ROSEMARY KENNEDY had a botched frontal lobotomy in 1942.

And You Thought You Had a Bad Day.  --DaCoot

Railroads in McHenry County-- Part 7

Continued from April 18th.

The lotus beds in the Chain of lakes were a huge attraction back in the late 1800s and the fastest, best way to get there (before the age of automobiles) was by train.  Back then, the railroads went to McHenry where tourists would offload and board steam launches to take them to the lotus beds and resorts on the Chain.

Overnight stays were at the Riverside Hotel (by Il-120 bridge) and the Northwestern Hotel, by the train station (Main Street Cantina).  All three buildings still stand.

There was also a train called "The Millionaires Special" which consisted of Pullman cars that would go through McHenry on its way to Lake Geneva.  Lake Geneva was the resort of the rich and the Chain of lakes was the one for regular folks.

Next year will mark the 160th anniversary of the arrival of the railroad coming to McHenry County.  Railroads brought prosperity.

Bring 'Em On, Just Don't Make me Wait at Crossings.  ----Cooter

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What Might Have Been-- Part 3

OVALTINE--  The chocolaty drink is called Ovomaltine in some other countries and would have been called that here is not for a clerical error when the manufacturer registered the name.

RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER--  His name was to have been Rollo as envisioned by Copywriter Robert May of the Montgomery Wards Company who wrote the original poem.  Ward's executives didn't like it and also didn't like second choice, Reginald. 

May's 4-year-old daughter came up with the name Rudolph.

MICKEY MOUSE--  Walt Disney's Mouse has always had the initials M.M., but back when the Mouse was first introduced, the first M. stood for Mortimer.  Disney's wife didn't like that name and said, "Mortimer is a horrible name."

And the rest, as they say, was history.

When Mortimer Met Rollo and Drank Some Ovomaltine.  --Cooter

What Might Have Been-- Part 2

People, places and things that nearly were named something else.

OAKLAND RAIDERS--When the new NFL football franchise was to begin in Oakland, California a "Name the Team" contest was held.  The name "Senors" was announced as the winner.  That was the name that team co-owner Chet Soda wanted, who was well-known around Oakland for calling his friends "senor."

Fans objected and the actual winner, Raiders, was chosen.

MONTANA--  Hanna and Joe aside, when it came time to name the new territories out west, there was some discussion as to what to name them, or at least the one that became the state of Montana.  One Ohio representative liked the name Montana and wanted it used for what became Idaho.  Another representative wanted Jefferson to be the name after the third president and man who bought the Louisiana Purchase.

There was even those who wanted Douglas, after Illinois' Stephen Douglas, a big proponent of the West.

Eventually, the Committee on Territories decided on Montana, coming from the Spanish word for "mountainous territory."

Bears Playing the Oakland Senors?  The "Snake" Would be So Proud."  --DaCoot

What Might Have Been-- Part 1

From the March 10, 2013, Chicago Tribune "What might have been: People, places and things nearly named something else entirely"  by Rob Manker.

PORTLAND, OREGON--  Almost named Boston, Oregon.  The two New England settlers of the town weer torn between Boston, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine, for their new settlement's name.  They flipped a coin and Portland won.

TWITTER--  When the founders were looking for a name for their new micro-blogging service.  They came up with what a phone might do receiving one of the messages.  They decided it would jitter and twitch.  Not liking those two names, they opened a dictionary and came upon the word "twitter."  Co-founder Jack Dorsey felt the word to be perfect for the short, inconsequential bursts of information.

Plus, the word is a combination of the first two words.

JUSTIN BIEBER--  His mother almost named him Jesse during her pregnancy.  Once he was born, she decided he just didn't look like a Jesse.  We're still not sure what he looks like.

Never, Ever Twittered.  Guess I Might be a Twit-Less.  --Cooter