Category Archives: The Top Eight List

Because there are way too many top ten lists.

Top Eight Demonstrations, Protests, Riots, Marches, Sit-ins

by Rick Bretz

If you see a malcontent, discontent, dissident or an activist fighting for a cause on the world stage, you’ll likely see someone or some power base trying to stop it, quell it or ignore it.

Turkish protestors are news today with more clashes with the government. The demonstrations are seen as protests against the conservative President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against secular Turks. Erdogan is being accused of forcing his Islamic views on a segment of the Turkish population. Islamic conservatives and secular politicians have long battled for government control and the best way to run a country with an overwhelming Islamic population. Situated at the edge of the European land mass and the Middle Eastern Territory, the Turkish people have fought for their religious identity while trying to be part of the European Union and culture.

Demonstrations, protests, marches, and riots usually begin with peaceful sit-ins and marches but soon escalate to violence and mayhem. Some of these achieve results while others are just the beginning of a longer struggle. Depending on where you sit at the table, one person’s terrorist, radical, guerilla, and rebel is another’s freedom fighter and force for change. After all, the United States revolution began with a peaceful protest.

Here are the top eight that we noticed.

1. Hungarian Uprising of 1956-The Soviet Union tanks rolled into Budapest after the Hungarian leadership informed Moscow that they were leaving the Warsaw Pact. This act fueled Soviet leaders to send in the tanks. Thousands were killed during the crackdown and its aftermath.

2. UK Miner’s Strike and early US Union Strikes -Worker’s unions in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere fought corporate abuse to increase wages, improve working conditions and work schedules. The passing of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act) significantly aided unions to recruit and negotiate with corporate management.

John L. LeFlore and Freedom Riders
John L. LeFlore and Freedom Riders (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3. Freedom Riders-1961-The Freedom Riders climbed in the bus, drove through the South, and more importantly, had the courage to get off the bus when the welcome party was unfriendly.

4. Antiwar Protests-From Vietnam to the Iraq War, when talk fails another tool of diplomacy takes form. An instrument in a country’s diplomatic tool bag is the strength of its military– Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force. Whether it be two people or two countries fighting, someone is likely against the idea no matter how noble the cause.

Tiananmen Square Protest (tian_med)
Tiananmen Square Protest (tian_med) (Photo credit: mandiberg)

5. Tiananmen Square-1989-Who can forget the lone protestor standing in front of the tank line, moving left to right as the tank moved. Later, the brutal crackdown at the square displayed government power for all the world to see on news channels across the globe. The final chapter for this hasn’t been written yet.

6. 1968 Democratic Convention-The news networks aired the violence for the world to see. Riots in the Chicago streets served Republican nominee Richard Nixon well. The media savvy Chicago Seven knew cameras would be rolling and the networks broadcasting while the city police forced people into paddy wagons. The whole affair alarmed Middle America and put an exclamation point on the terrible year of 1968 when Senator Robert Kennedy and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., were assassinated.

7. Polish Solidarity Movement-1980s-The Solidarity movement forced the communist government to the table to negotiate with the country’s labor force. Another brick was removed from the Berlin Wall.

8. Wounded Knee-1973-The American Indian Movement clashed with the Federal Government and lives were lost.  The past repeats.

Whether the many or the few, failure to compromise with the opposing view will result in the beaten down using the power of numbers and the force of the media.

Others: WWI Veteran Pension Riots, the Suffrage Marches, Russian Revolution, Watts Riots, Prague Spring, Soweto Uprising

Notable Links:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/gallery/2010/nov/14/ten-best-protests#/?picture=368602881&index=7

http://protest.net/

http://www.varsity.co.uk/lifestyle/5124

http://www.now.org/history/protests.html

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/hungarian_uprising_1956.htm

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/ford-signs-first-contract-with-autoworkers-union

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The-Freedom-Riders.html

http://www.npr.org/2006/01/12/5149667/get-on-the-bus-the-freedom-riders-of-1961

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-chicago-seven-go-on-trial

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soweto_uprising

The Top Eight News Anchors of All Time

by Rick Bretz

The past couple of weeks have reminded everyone that during a crisis, Americans turn to news channels and programs to keep them current on the events that move through our lives. Journalists and broadcasters are considered to be the authors of history’s first rough draft. It is this rough draft that historians seek out ten or twenty years from the event to write their potential best sellers. These professionals often get beat up for not getting it right or for omitting facts when the heat is on with five minutes to go before air time. Viewers often look upon them with disdain for inserting their opinions and not covering the whole story.  Today in the 24 hour news cycle, television news is under the deadline pressure to get it right and get it correct–now .  The public doesn’t want it 10 minutes from now but right now in our world of the Smart Phone and travelling laptops and I-Pads.  The following list is my best news anchors of all time.  It was a time when different rules applied and the deadline pressure was at least a few hours–just enough time to get the story nearly right.

1. David BrinkleyNBC and ABC    (NBC-1956-1971 and 1976-1979) (ABC-1981-1998)

My favorite and it’s not even close.  I liked his one-of-a-kind delivery and his dry humor and views on current events.  When he moved to ABC to do his Sunday weekend show, it was required viewing for me.  I looked forward to his closing commentaries every Sunday.  I just knew he was about to say something in those few minutes at the end of the show that would make me think, make me laugh or both.

2. Douglas Edwards-CBS-(1948-1962)

He was a trailblazer.  He set a standard along with John Cameron Swayze for everyone else to meet or exceed.

3. Frank Reynolds-ABC (1968-1970)

You can just tell when someone is a true professional and care about his work.  Frank Reynolds came across on the television as someone who lived and breathed news.

English: Original caption:"NASA Remembers...

4. Walter Cronkite-CBS (1962-1981)

It seems that Walter Cronkite was there for many of the major news events, The Kennedy Assassination, The Vietnam War, the Political Conventions, The NASA moon landings.  The World War II correspondent had seen it all and always struck the right note for a story.

5. John Chancellor-NBC (1970-1982)

He was smooth as silk in his delivery and could write some of the best news commentaries about current topics. He also scores points for narrating Ken Burns’ PBS documentary on Baseball.

6. Harry Reasoner-CBS (60 Minutes) and ABC  (CBS-1968-1970 and 1978-1991)   (ABC-1970-1978)

He was a terrific writer and interviewer for “60 Minutes”.  He anchored the news for ABC during some of the most turbulent years in America’s social history.

7. Max Robinson-ABC (1978-1983)

I admire people who lead the way.  This anchor  and the next person did just that. He was a trailblazer in every sense of the word as the first African-American network news anchor.  He had terrific voice and a great delivery. He made the three anchor format of Max Robinson, Frank Reynolds  and Peter Jennings work smoothly from his desk on “World News Tonight”.

Publicity photo from the Today television prog...
Publicity photo from the Today television program. From left: Gene Shalit, Barbara Walters, and Frank McGee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

8. Barbara Walters ABC and NBC (ABC-1976-1978)  (NBC-Today Show-1961-1976) (ABC-Co-host of 20/20-1984-2004)

Another anchor who was a first, the first woman anchor of a network news, ABC Evening News, while co-anchoring with Harry Reasoner.  You had to be tough, working news in those days among the all-male anchor club.  She didn’t back down and she was a true professional,  She  is revered in her field today because of her catalogue of quality work.  She led the way for Connie Chung, Katie Couric and several other women on the 24 hour news channels we see today.

Honorable Mentions– Bernard Shaw-CNN, John Chancellor-NBC, Frank McGee-NBC, Peter Jennings-ABC, Connie Chung-CBS, Chet Huntley-NBC

Do you have your favorites? Leave a comment and tell me why?

The Top Eight Government Putschs, Coups, Overthrows, or Coup D’états

Big Three at the Potsdam Conference in Germany...
Big Three at the Potsdam Conference in Germany: Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Harry S. Truman and Generalissimo Josef Stalin, seated in garden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Rick Bretz
Not having power for some people is too much to bare. So they go after it even if it means they have to take it away forcefully. There are not many bloodless coups. Power is too much of a drug for people to stand by without a fight. Even if taken peacefully, the people who had the power will pay some kind of price, either with their lives or with humiliation by the conquerors. No one can forget the sight of Mikhail Gorbachev being ordered around by Boris Yeltsin at the podium after he was forced to step down in the early 90s.

With the arrival of March, a couple of events come to mind. One is St. Patrick’s Day, a celebration of St. Patrick, one of the patron saints of Ireland. The other being the Ides of March, March 15th. Besides being an old world celebration day it also known as the day Julius Caesar was assassinated at the base of the Statue of Pompey in 44 BC. This thought brought up the idea of other overthrows that have occurred in history and how important they were to the rest of world order.

The United States federal government has been stable  since George Washington took office (arguably since the Articles of Confederation) because we have a somewhat organized election that begins a disciplined series of events culminating in the inauguration of the next President of the United States. Some countries never achieve this process resulting in violence and destruction.
Here are eight coups that have, in my view, significantly reverberated across the globe.

Fidel Castro becomes the leader of Cuba as a r...
Fidel Castro becomes the leader of Cuba as a result of the Cuban Revolution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. 1959: Fidel Castro overthrows Batista.
This one is number one on the list because it almost caused two countries to launch missiles at each other a couple of years later. The  Cuban Missile Crisis might be one cause that began the whole 1960s free love, live and let live, drugs are fantastic thing in the sixties.  They probably figured, “Well, if the governments are going to send missiles at one another at any second, and we don’t have a say in it, we’ll have fun while we can.”  In addition, the United States is still dealing with the consequences of Fidel Castro ruling Cuba more than 50 years later with the trade embargo, travel restrictions and a Cuban constituency in Florida that can influence elections.  Besides that, there’s the Cuban cigar thing.

2. 1804: Napoleon Bonaparte becomes Emperor of France by a coup d’état.
Once Bonaparte came to power, he waged war all across Europe and with Britain. This is high up on the list due to Bonaparte inflicting war and destruction across Europe until the Russian winter stopped him along with his own ego.  Russian winters taught Bonaparte a lesson that Hitler forgot or refused to take into account more than a century later.

Royal Russian family (LOC)
Royal Russian family (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

3. 1917–March: abdication of Nicholas II of Russia in favor of the Russian Provisional Government.
Call it an abdication, but Nicholas II didn’t give up the Czar title willingly and would have kept it if he had had an avenue to remain on the throne.  Arguably his track record as a ruler wasn’t the best.  He oversaw the economic and military collapse of his country as well as executed his political opponents. He persecuted the Jewish people inside Russia and generally made poor decisions domestically and on foreign policy.  So, Vladimir Lenin had his chance but didn’t survive long enough to keep Josef Stalin out of the dictator seat.  Instead, the over throw eventually led to a corrupted, paranoid communist government, Josef Stalin, bad decisions during World War II, an arms race, an Iron Curtain, a Berlin Wall, missile launch sites in Cuba, the edge of total annihilation from nuclear weapons, and several billions and trillions of dollars on both sides used to develop weapons of mass destruction.

4. 1792- by the National Convention against King Louis XVI of France, the French Revolution.
The difference between the American Revolution and the French Revolution is that those in power after the US revolution didn’t go around with a guillotine lopping the heads off the aristocracy, creating domestic terror throughout the land.

5. 1969–Sep 1st: Muammar al-Gaddafi overthrows King Idris I of Libya.
A country gets the wrong guy in; it could take more than 40 years to get rid of him. This dictator is on here due to his sanctioning, supporting, and harboring terrorists who executed one horrible event, the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. This Libyan dictator was a thorn in many government’s sides, including several Middle Eastern countries.

6. 1936- by Francisco Franco against Manuel Azaña.
Generalissimo Franco was the picture of opportunism. He helped put down an earlier coup when it didn’t benefit him. Became a leader for the 1936 coup that led to a civil war. He assumed power and remained there for almost 40 years. As I stated earlier, once you get some of these guys in, it is difficult to get them out. He died in 1975. He had economic successes, but it doesn’t make up for the torture and human rights abuses.  He kept power through censorship, imprisonment, forced labor camps, death sentences, and other political means. When it was beneficial to him, he moved his foreign policy towards the Italian and German fascist leaders prior to, and during, World War II. After the war, he maneuvered his political diplomacy toward the United States and NATO because he knew NATO wanted to stop the spread of communism.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7. 1909-The Young Turk Revolution breaks out in the Ottoman Empire against the absolute rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid II.
This is one coup that actually meant a great leap forward for a country. This coup led to an eventual Turkish revolution led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of the Turks.  The father of modern Turkey is revered in his country. If it is possible to take a country and drag it into the modern world, that is what Ataturk did. He pushed through economic, social, and cultural reforms while creating a secular government. He was instrumental in separating Islamic Law from government. He mandated that Islamic Law be limited to the practice of religion while the government would use secular law.

8. 1971-Military in Uganda led by Idi Amin overthrows government.
This dictator’s regime was characterized by ethnic killings, corruption, nepotism, and according to most human rights groups, between 100 and 500 thousand people killed. Besides being arrogant and astonishingly brutal to his enemies, he started a war with Tanzania in 1978, the Uganda-Tanzania War. This war led to his fleeing the country and eventually landing in Saudi Arabia where he died in 2003.

Eight US Historical Figures for the Time Machine

By Rick Bretz

If I could go back in time and be given the opportunity to work with or talk with anyone I wanted, the following list is who I would choose.  I started thinking about this recently because I was reading an article about George S. Patton and, by all accounts from research, he believed in reincarnation.  Specifically, he believed he was a member of Armies that participated in major battles through Europe’s history.  I thought, if I could go back, where would I want to be and who would I want to talk to during my stay.  It would give me a chance to feel some of that confidence and aura that made them great or controversial.

Here is the list.

Emanuel Leutze's depiction of Washington's att...
Emanuel Leutze’s depiction of Washington’s attack on the Hessians at Trenton on December 25, 1776, was a great success in America and in Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. General George Washington at the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776.

Riding beside Washington during the battle of Trenton would have been interesting just to see how he commanded his Army.  From everything that I have read about his personality, Washington did not talk much.  I would just ride along and not ask any questions. I would remain silent so the Father of our Country could concentrate and gain our liberty.  I would observe and take notes surreptitiously.  I, however, would make sure I was in the same boat at the Delaware River crossing and with him during the assault just to see how he handles himself.  Later, during the victory dinner, I would fit in a question or two about it. I would probably ask something ridiculous like, “Was it as cold out there for you last night as it was for me?” or a conversation starter like, “Those Hessians wear some silly hats don’t they?” Washington would have responded, “Shouldn’t you be at Valley Forge.”

 

2. Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence from June 11-June 28, 1776.

I would hope that I would refrain from interrupting while he was drafting the declaration.  More than that, I would hope that I wouldn’t be a back seat writer.  For instance, when he writes, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  I wouldn’t want to say something amateurish like, “Isn’t that a little wordy?”   Instead I would say something like, “That’s perfect, Tom.   Adams doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

 

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid
Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3. Charlie Chaplin working on films in early 20th Century Hollywood.

This would be great just to work around a genius at the start of the industry.  I would probably be asking for a part in all of his films.  “Hey Charlie, do you have a part for me in ‘Gold Rush’ or ‘City Lights’ or the ‘The Kid’.  Either way, I would just hang out and watch how he worked his magic.

 

4. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs at Silicon Valley in the 1980s.

This would have been great to hang out in the conference rooms of both sides just to see what they would have been saying about each other.  Sitting in on all the business decisions and negotiations that helped build both companies would have been enlightening.  I would have been at the ground floor and bought all those company shares before the IPO and watched them grow.  This is starting to get a little sad, I’ll stop writing now.

 

5.  Mark Twain while touring Europe and writing Innocents Abroad in 1867.

Touring Europe and the Middle East with Mark Twain would have been a hoot.  Hanging out at the local café or pub with him cracking wise on American tourists or the local scene seems like a great way to pass the time.

 

English: Theodore Roosevelt wearing pince-nez,...
English: Theodore Roosevelt wearing pince-nez, traditionally uncredited photograph. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6. President Teddy Roosevelt during his African Safari in 1909.

An African Safari with President Teddy Roosevelt!  All he would have to say is “Do you want to come along.” “Yes!!!!”  I would be waiting at the docks to board the ship going to Africa. He undertook the trip so he could bring back specimens for the National Museum and the American Museum of Natural History. He also became a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association in 1907 when he was President. I could just see myself standing beside Roosevelt while a Rhino charges waiting patiently for him to shoot before I would. I’m pretty sure I would have been faster than President Roosevelt if things got out of hand-I think.

 

The route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
The route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7. Captain Meriwether Lewis and William Clark during the Corps of Discovery expedition west to map out the newly purchased US Territory from France past the Mississippi River in 1804-1806.

This would have an adventure worth taking.  I would have traveled with the expedition and would have seen new rivers and forests on my way to the Pacific Ocean.  I probably would have suggested a route a little more South.  Lewis and Clark would have said, “No back seat driving.” Let’s face it, we take driving west for granted today because we have nice four lane highway and rest stop and hotels. These two and their expedition didn’t even have a dirt road or trail.

 

8. Abraham Lincoln for the whole four years in the White House sitting in the oval office so I could hear some of his stories.

Lincoln was great story-teller.  I would have been content just to hang around and be his sounding board while he was trying to end the Civil War.  If he threw in a humorous story now and then, I would have been content. One thing is for sure, I would have tried to attend the play with him and his wife, Mary, at Ford’s Theatre on April 14th.   I would have also heard the door open behind us.

 

 

Honorable Mentions:  President Ronald Reagan at the Berlin Wall, President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Harry S. Truman when he found out the United States had the Atomic Bomb.  Andrew Carnegie during the industrial revolution, John Ford creating the automobile and the assembly line, Vince Lombardi during his Green Bay Packer coaching years, and Babe Ruth during his whole career.

Eight Great Presidential Performances

By Rick Bretz

In recognition of the inauguration this week, I have listed what I consider the best presidential portrayals on film and the small screen.  My criteria are simple.  Did the actor capture the spirit of the President’s personality?  And, was I able to watch the presentation without being aware that someone was trying too hard to play that particular president? Most of the performances on this list present a narrow window in a President’s life.  The more difficult portrayals involve playing the person over a lifetime.  A good example of this is Paul Giamatti’s portrayal of John Adams and Barry Bostwick’s performance in the George Washington miniseries. Below is the actor followed by the President portrayed and then the  film or television title.

1.  Kenneth Branagh-Franklin Delano Roosevelt-Warm Springs

I was skeptical before making time to see this show that the actor could pull it off.  I was wrong.  Kenneth Branagh captured the force of Roosevelt’s personality and his physical and emotional fight with the crippling polio disease.  He also does a great job of relating to the people who have the same disease while rehabilitating at Warm Springs.  His supporting cast is terrific and he shows us why Roosevelt related to so many people.

2.  Daniel Day Lewis-Abraham-Lincoln-Lincoln

Enough has been written about Lewis’ choice concerning how Lincoln sounds when he speaks compared to other portrayals. If you watch Henry Fonda’s “Young Mr. Lincoln”,  the voice pitch comes close to what Lewis used in Lincoln.  What cannot be disputed is that he does capture Lincoln’s modest confidence and his sharp political mind.

3.  Paul Giamatti-John Adams-Johns Adams

 Paul Giamatti captures Adams from all directions.  He is spot on in his portrayal in many aspects.  His love for his wife Abigail, his mercurial temper, his difficult personality, his love for his family, his ego, and most of all, his sense of duty, fairness, and love for his country. Giamatti’s choices show the president from all sides while weaving his multi-layered personality into the presentation of Adams. He also plays him as he ages from a young man to his death which is difficult to accomplish.

4.  Frank Langella-Richard M. Nixon-Frost/Nixon

 Langella’s acting puts a human face on Richard Nixon in this Ron Howard directed film.  He sparred with David Frost through a majority of the movie and showed Nixon’s toughness, intellect, political savvy and his personality weaknesses.  This performance is remarkable because it keeps the audience interested despite knowing the outcome.  It explains history without getting into the minute details so the audience’s eyes don’t glaze over like sitting in 9th grade history class memorizing dates.

 5.  Jeff Daniels-George Washington-The Crossing

 Jeff Daniels does a terrific job showing people what it must have been like serving under George Washington.  Daniels gives us a performance that shows Washington cool under fire, a master at finding quality people to serve under him and how to manage them, and how to get soldiers to fight for him in the most extreme circumstances. Daniels as Washington shows the General as calm leader looking to find answers instead of assessing blame.

6.  Anthony Hopkins-John Quincy Adams-Amistad

 My favorite scene in this movie is when Adams is supposedly sleeping during a congressional session.  Then the speaker asks him to comment on the previous discussion. Adams speaks up immediately repeating the last exchange and giving his own caustic opinion about the matter and the current session itself.  Hopkins is a master at losing himself in roles and this is one.  His other Presidential portrayal of Richard Nixon is good as well but this one is fascinating especially with the final summation in court at the end.

7.  Randy Quaid, Lyndon B. Johnson, LBJ; The Early Years

 Randy Quaid shows Lyndon Johnson with his loud voice, over-the–top personality and his energy to accomplish his own goals and fix what needs to be fixed.  This is another performance that shows the actor aging through several years from a young man to his days in congress.  Quaid gives an outstanding performance showing how Johnson dealt with people and how Johnson used his force of personality to get his legislation passed when he was a leader in congress.

8.  Henry Fonda-Abraham Lincoln-Young Mr. Lincoln

This movie was released in 1939 and it shows a young Henry Fonda at his best. Fonda gives us the Lincoln personality in the salad days of his lawyer career.  He takes on a case early in the movie that everyone believes is a lost cause.  Throughout the movie, Fonda shows the audience the Lincoln wit and his art for storytelling.  He shows us why Lincoln became President while  using his political savvy and intelligence.  Fonda’s acting also shows us an underlying sadness to his personality and an innate understanding he might be destined for great things.

Those are my favorites.  Do you agree? Leave a comment?

 More great characterizations:

David Morse-George Washington-John Adams; Edward Herrmann-Franklin Delano Roosevelt-Eleanor and Franklin; Barry Bostwick-George Washington- George Washington (The Mini-Series);  Bill Murray-Franklin Delano Roosevelt-Hyde Park on the Hudson; Gary Sinise-Harry S. Truman-Truman;  James Whitmore-Harry S. Truman-Give ‘Em Hell Harry; Raymond Massey-Abraham Lincoln-Abe Lincoln in Illinois; Brian Keith-Teddy Roosevelt-The Wind and the Lion

Eight of Humankind’s Best Years

by Rick Bretz

The 2013 New Year is approaching and well might be here by the time you read this.  With that obvious statement, I thought it would be a useless exercise in listing the best years human kind has produced. I’ve picked years with the important inventions and developments with an understandably subjective slant.

1800Invention of the battery; this event is a vital point in history.  This could well be the point where civilization begins.  Without batteries for everything from smart phones, remotes, and automobiles, humankind would be lost and forced to talk to each other.

Congress holds first session in an unfinished capitol building.  I could make a nasty comment about congressional recesses, unfinished government business such as budget approvals, and fiscal cliffs but I’ll refrain from easy targets.

Washington, DC officially established as nation’s capitol.

Library of Congress established with initial $5000 funding. After the War of 1812 when the British destroyed much of the library, Thomas Jefferson offered to sell his vast collection of books to establish the library again in 1815. He sold his books to the library for $29,950.

Spain cedes Louisiana to France (Setting up the later purchase of the territory from France in 1803 during the Jefferson administration).

1770-The invention of the eraser; if this event had not occurred, many students taking class during pre-computer days would have been forced to submit first drafts.  For many of us, the eraser was an essential tool in math class.

1966-The development of Fiber Optic Cable, perfected by George Hockham and Charles Kao, gave Internet providers the ability to transmit massive amounts of data through optic fibers.  This is a huge development in our ability to watch YouTube videos.

fiber optics
fiber optics (Photo credit: go_nils)

President Lyndon Johnson signs the Freedom of Information Act.  This act lets someone request information from any government agency so that they can “sanitize” it.  Viewer can see this process in any number of documentaries when the host shows the audience an official government document with big blocks of black covering vital information to the story.

Star Trek premieres on NBC-TV. The birth of “Trekkie” Nation and a movie franchise.

1978– With the first Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite, launched on February 22, 1978, the world was on its way to traveling without maps. The system was fully integrated with the 24th satellite launched in 1993. It was just a matter of time before the public tossed the map in the back seat and mounted the latest and greatest GPS unit. Today older people can brag that they used to find restaurants and streets by using maps and their internal compasses in three feet of snow.  The GPS technology saves lives today by finding victims more easily. Moreover, the industry also creates thousands of jobs worldwide. In addition to those positives, it almost single-handedly eliminated arguments between spouses while traveling the nation’s highways.  Yes, it was a very good year.

 

The only GPS satellite on public display is at...
The only GPS satellite on public display is at the San Diego Aerospace Museum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1859Internal Combustion Engine developed from a steam engine by Belgian inventor Etienne Lenoir. It was the spark that created road trips through the ages.  With Henry Ford perfecting the assembly line production system, cheaper cars would give people the ability to go mobile.  Humankind would invent the hangover later.

In related news, the first successful oil well was drilled near Titusville, PA.

1564-The invention of the lead pencil.  It must have been messy writing with a quill all those years, with ink dripping all over the place.  What is so perplexing to me is that someone didn’t invent the erasure until 1770-people used bread  to erase mistakes instead.

lead pencil
lead pencil (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1848-The light went on in Joseph Swan’s head and he invented the light bulb.  With the help of Thomas Edison and some electric current, soon all of America and the world would be able to get up at night without banging their knees on the night stand.

English: Light bulb patent application. Photol...
English: Light bulb patent application. Photolithography reproduction. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gas lights first installed in the White House during the James Polk administration.

1897Swiss Army Knife. The original “McGyver” before there was such a thing.  The only thing this knife doesn’t have is a paper clip and some string.    The “Offiziersmesser” or officer’s knife was developed in Schwyz, Switzerland by a surgical equipment manufacturer who didn’t like the fact that Germany supplied the Swiss Army with its knives.  US Army soldiers popularized the knife and started calling it the “Swiss Army Knife.”  Today the company, Victorinox, makes millions of them and sells them worldwide.

Victorinox Swiss Army knife, photo taken in Sw...
Victorinox Swiss Army knife, photo taken in Sweden. This is a Mountaineer model. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thomas Edison patents his Kinetograph (movie camera)– later first movie critic invented.

Notable Links:

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/jefferson/jefflib.html

http://www.timbercon.com/history-of-fiber-optics/

http://www.nps.gov/gis/gps/history.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/101-gadgets-that-changed-the-world-398535.html

Eight December 25th significant events

In celebration of Christmas Day, here is a list of significant events occurring on December 25th.

Year 1989- The weather is cold in the winter months for most places. Japanese scientists decided they wanted to see how far they could force the temperature in the negatives.  They hit a record -271.8 degrees Celsius.  Personally, I’m building a fire in the fire-place at 0 degrees Celsius.

 

Emanuel Leutze's depiction of Washington's att...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Year 1776-On another cold day, General George Washington and his military force crossed the Delaware River so they could attack a Hessian mercenary unit at Trenton, NJ.  Washington attacked the unaware Hessians successfully and began the long road toward victory and independence.

 

John Philip Sousa, the composer of the song.
John Philip Sousa, the composer of the song. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Year 1896-John Philip Sousa writes “Stars and Stripes Forever.” for every marching band in the country.

Year 1855-The first outdoor hockey game is played using field hockey sticks and lacrosse balls. Royal Canadian Rifle unit soldiers started the game when clearing ice and snow from Lake Ontario.  Later, the game evolved into what we know today with the first indoor hockey game played on March 3, 1875 at Montreal, Canada.

Year 1818-The Christmas Hymn “Silent Night,” by Franz Joseph Gruber and Joseph Mohr is sung for the first time.

Year 336 or 337-Most sources state 336 but some have 337 as the first recorded celebration of Christmas in Rome.

English: Traveling by reindeer, Arkhangelsk, R...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Year 1939-The retail store Montgomery Ward introduces the ninth reindeer, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.

Born on December 25th– Believe or not, Robert L. Ripley, from Ripley’s Believe or Not fame, was born on this day. Also actor Humphrey Bogart, football players Larry Csonka, Kenny Stabler, and actress Sissy Spacek.

The Top Eight Women Inventors

Man does not have a monopoly on inventions.  It just seems that way because Mr. Bell, Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Franklin and Mr. Edison have been hogging all of the publicity the last 250 years or so. In fact, several women have made significant contributions to industry, the home, science and information technology.  Some were the first to contribute to their particular field and forge new accomplishments for others to advance.  If it weren’t for these women on this list, life would be more difficult today in many ways.

 

  1. Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000)  She is best known as movie star actress during the WWII era.  She starred in “Samson and Delilah”, “Algiers” and many others.  She also wanted to contribute to the World War II effort by figuring out how to prevent the jamming of and intercepting of frequency communication systems by the enemy.  She and her co-inventor, George Anthiel, figured out the technique of “frequency hopping” or what they call today, “spread-spectrum” communication, proving that she was not  just a pretty face for the movies.  This technology is used today for everything from military weapons to cell phone transmissions.  They received a patent for it but it didn’t earn her any significant wealth.  In 1997 she was awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Pioneer Award.

 

  1. Sybilla Masters (died 1720) She was a significant contributor to the field of farming and weaving.  Masters was the first recorded American woman inventor.  She earned a patent for “Cleansing, Curing, and Refining of Indian-Corn Growing in the Plantations” and for a new methods for weaving straw for hats and bonnets. However, her husband had to put his name on the patent because of the laws at the time in 1715.  She deserves credit now for not being recognized back then.

 

  1. Josephine Garis Cochran (1839-1913) The world’s population owes this woman a collective thank you.  The reason?  She invented the first      working automatic dishwasher in 1889.  It was first shown at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.  The next phase for anyone out there, of course, is an automatic loader and un-loader.

 

  1. Marion Donovan (1917-1998) She invented the first waterproof, disposable diaper in 1950. The key word is “waterproof”.  Amazingly, business leaders weren’t interested in this at first, which showed an incredible lack of understanding to the plight of their wives and mothers.  She wasn’t discouraged.  She started her own company, Donovan Enterprises, and then sold it for a million dollars later.  At last the sweet smell of success!

 

  1. Grace  Murray Hopper (1906-1992) An engineer, educator and a naval officer rising to the rank of Rear Admiral, every computer programmer owes a debt of gratitude to her.  She invented  the concept of compiling programming languages. She popularized the term, “debugging” which refers to a weeding out code errors in a program.  She is a legend in the Navy and in the fields of Mathematics and Computer Engineering.

 

Ada Lovelace Day, March 24, 2009
Ada Lovelace Day, March 24, 2009 (Photo credit: clvrmnky)
  1. Ada Byron, Lady Lovelace (1815-1852) She was a mathematician and a collaborator with Charles Babbage, the inventor of the Analytical Engine, who built the first mechanical computer that could calculate numbers.  She also foresaw that computers could do more than calculate numbers, such as composing music, creating graphics and would be used for practical and scientific use. She also wrote the first computer program (Bernoulli numbers) for calculating numbers for Babbage’s machine. She was indeed a pioneer and a profit of the computer age.

 

Marie Curie
Marie Curie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  1. Marie Curie (1867-1934) Here is a woman who literally put her life on  the line for science. She was a polish physicist and chemist who      discovered radioactive metals such as Radium and Polonium.  She also discovered that the harmful properties of x-rays could kill tumors.  She made a decision to not seek patents for methods of processing  radium or how it could be used for medical applications. Curie was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes. She died of Leukemia caused by overexposure to radioactive material during her years of research.

 

 

  1. Lillian Moller Gilbreth (1878-1972) She was a pioneer in the field of ergonomics as well as an author, industrial engineer and inventor.      Gilbreth invented several helpful items for the kitchen to make our lives easier.  Everyone should give a collective bow of thank you (she saved our backs) to her because she invented the trashcan with the foot-pedal lid-opener.  She conducted several significant Time and Motion studies that simplified and improved industrial work. She also determined that stress affected worker efficiency as well as lack of sleep. While working for General Electric she conducted interviews with women to determine the proper height for stoves, sinks and other kitchen appliances.

Do you have any that you think significant?  Leave me a comment and I will respond.

Top Eight July 4th Historical Events

Posted by Rick Bretz

The Fourth of July holiday is approaching.  Here is a top eight list of events that occurred on July 4th from the milestone timeline.

Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jeffe...
Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of independence (1776) were all of British descent. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. 1776- Declaration of Independence-US gains independence from Britain.

Without this event nothing else can happen, especially all of the family get togethers and cook-outs.  

2. 1802- The US Military Academy opened at West Point, NY.

The US Military Academy at West Point trains officers so that America can experience many July 4ths.  This is a real important one

3. 1796-1st Independence Day celebration is held.

Let the celebration begin now all we need is for someone to invent the grill.  (and the cooler)

4. 1884-Statue of Liberty presented to US in Paris.

Scores of immigrants saw this statue way before docking in New York.

5. 1894-Elwood Haynes successfully tests one of 1st US autos at 6 MPH.

First the auto, then the highways and then the July 4th trips to destinations unknown.  Road Trip!

6. 1970-Casey Kasem‘s “American Top 40” debuts on LA radio.

OK, auto, highways, tunes and then ROAD TRIP!!

7. 1960-The number of stars on the American flag was increased to 50 to honor the new state of Hawaii.

It took a while but we got a nice round number of 50.

8. 1826 – Former American presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams die, fifty years to the day after the adoption of the United States Declaration of Independence.

Two stellar personalities who were responsible for building the United States passing away on the same day, hours apart, on America’s birthday. Maybe it was written in the stars!–and stripes.

Top Eight Military Memorials

Since Memorial Day is a few days away I wanted to give a list of memorials in remembrance of American service members..  The nation owes them a debt of gratitude for defending the United States  and its values. Choosing the top eight military memorials is a tough task.  I think all of them honor the veterans with splendor and reverence. Throughout history, leaders and politicians from America’s adversaries have underestimated the spirit of our fighting men and women.  Arguably, when given a mission and left alone, they have achieved success time after time.  American servicemen aren’t politicians so they have no control over decisions made by the government.  The military is an essential position for diplomacy. It’s President Teddy Roosevelt‘s analagous “Big Stick.” Politics aside, they have achieved success in every war, conflict, police action and peace-keeping mission given to them—and that means every mission.  These memorials are a testament to the widely held belief that servicemen would rather have peace because they know more than any other citizen the price to be paid for war.

1.  USS  Arizona-dedicated in 1962

2. Vietnam Memorial-Accepted by the President of the US in 1984

Vietnam war memorial
Vietnam war memorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3.  Marine Corps War MemorialDedicated November 10, 1954 (179th Birthday of the Corps)

United States Marine Corps War Memorial by Fel...
United States Marine Corps War Memorial by Felix de Weldon at night. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4.  US Air Force Memorial-Dedicated in 2006

5. Tomb of the Unknown Soldier-Patrolled continuously 24/7 since 1930

Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unkno...
Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
                                                                                            6.  Korea War Memorial-Dedicated in 1995
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Korean War Veterans Memorial (Photo

        7.  Women  in the Military Service Memorial-Dedicated in 1997

The Women in Military Service for America Memo...
The Women in Military Service for America Memorial is the nation’s first major national memorial honoring women who served in the armed forces during all eras and in all services. Image shows a panorama of the monument. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

8.  Arlington  National Cemetery-Began with the confiscation of the Mary Anna Custis Lee  property in 1864

Soldiers from the 3d Infantry Regiment carry N...

Other Notables: Normandy American Center and Memorial (D-Day); Missing Man Formation; Empty Boots, Rifle and Helmet; Gettysburg National Park; Taps on the Bugle; and any resting place for an American serviceman and family member.