Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!!

Happy Mother's Day, everyone! More cool history content soon. Promise.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

An Artist's Depiction: The Aerial Screw and Da Vinci's thrist for flight.

What does it mean to be innovative? To create something new that no one has seen. This makes me think of the old cartoons, when a bubble popped over characters heads with a light bulb going on. Well it is clear that Leonardo Da Vinci (1452 - 1519) is one of the most innovative people ever to exist? Da Vinci takes credit for some of the most beautiful and theologically pleasing paintings and he spent tremendous amounts of time on understanding the anatomy of the human body and should be credited with the term Renaissance Man with the amount of diverse endeavors he took part in. It is quite possible that he is known throughout the world as the greatest painter(Rivaled alone with Michelangelo). However, what really stands out in Da Vinci's works are his detailed and technologically advanced drawings that he compiled in notebooks. In this episode of An Artist's Depiction, we will look at Leonardo Da Vinci's drawing of the Aerial Screw, which looks very similar to the modern day helicopter. The fact that Da Vinci was creating drawings of devices that would not come about for hundreds of years sheds some light at how advanced and ingenuous of a mind he had.

The inventions that Da Vinci was able to create and design are amazing and include such things as a parachute, a circular armored car (Tank), an automatic battering ram and improvements on weaponry. Da Vinci had a passion for flight and made many designs that dealt with flying, including a bird man suit. The one drawing that stands out is the Aerial Screw, which is a primitive version of the helicopter. Designed very similar to modern day helicopters, the Aerial Screw had a long shaft with a flat screw design on the top, which when turned by four passengers would lift up the contraption. Even though this device was never tested, it is believed that it wouldn't have worked, because four people would not be able to generate enough energy to stay in flight. However, just the fact that Da Vinci had these ideas in his head centuries before anyone would be able to get off the ground, shows just how advanced a mind Da Vinci really had.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Cousin Jesse's Peeps: Ivan the Terrible

In terms of interesting people, Ivan Vasilyevich or Ivan the Terrible, comes across as an intriguing personality, because of his power and strength as the very first Tsar of Russia. So he is kind of like the George Washington of Russia, but only with a far more interesting nickname than old wooden tooth, cherry tree chopping George. The nickname terrible is very misleading and when it is translated it actually means Ivan the Awesome, but everyone knows that words mean different things in different cultures. But then again he was terrible toward anyone that was against him or in the way.

What makes Ivan the Terrible such an interesting person, is that he was able to take a backwoods medieval society in Russia and get it on the right track to becoming an empire. At the age of three Ivan IV was given the throne and was raised to be a ruler by boyars (Russian nobles)that were fighting for control of power and this had an impact on Ivan when he grew up. Especially when he was not respected by these boyars and was often neglected and tortured by them. This might of been a reason for why he became such a ruthless ruler and went from torturing animals as a child to torturing and executing anyone that was in his way. The experience of being a witness to the boyars fighting for power while he was a child, might have led to Ivan having such mistrust toward the boyars as an adult when he became "Tsar of All Russia".

What kind of a ruler was Ivan Vasilyevich? In this time period you had to be a ruthless ruler in order to remain a ruler, but intelligence was very important as well. Ivan was a very devoted and strong leader that expanded the Russian borders to a billion acres and he modernized the military. He was able to build up the empire of Russia and rule as Tsar for just over fifty years, from 1533 to 1584. During this long reign he went from good times to bad times and was able to let out his ruthlessness on any enemies that he felt threatened by. Many suspect that Ivan had a mental illness and was very prone to violent fits. So vicious was Ivan the Terrible, that he accidentally killed his own eldest son with a blow to the head with his staff. Ivan led the way for future horrific rulers, like Napoleon, Stalin, Hitler and others; with his reign of terror that included a loyal militia that dressed in all black and killed anyone that opposed the Tsar's rule.

The Tsar had many great accomplishments as a ruler, which include revisions of the code of law, unified the people with force and through assembly of the land, attempted to unify the religion of the nation and brought along the printing press. He had the difficulty of trying to open up trade through the sea with a country that was land locked and he was able to open up trade in the White Sea. What makes Ivan the Terrible such an interesting ruler was how he was able to build up an empire from a primitive nation that had no identity or cultural unification. He was able to pave the pathway for Peter and Catherine the Great to build up the Russian nation into a significant country.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Top Five's -- Historical Songs

1 With God on Our Side, by Bob Dylan

In terms of history, Dylan’s “With God on Our Side”, happens to mention several historical events from Native American wars to the Cold War. Dylan runs through the history of the United States and goes with a manifest destiny approach, in which he shows how America grew to be such a powerful country. He looks at religions influence on the mindset of a country that is being taught who to hate and who to accept as friend. Almost as if Dylan is challenging God to end war, but in the end, is it possible that God is our only hope to end war, because man can’t stop war.

2 Youngstown, by Bruce Springsteen

Youngstown is a song that highlights the industrial juggernaut and the massive military complex of America. Springsteen reveals that the backbone of the American military during the major wars that America has fought in, were the people in these steel factories and coal mines. Now these factories are all but disappearing and the people are all but forgotten. Something that you can see happening all over America is factory towns are left barren wastelands and therefore a living Hell for people that once thrived and survived off building bombs and tanks.

3 Cortez the Killer, by Neil Young

The way this extraordinary clash of civilization is portrayed in Cortez the Killer, it is almost as if you are taken back hundreds of years and you are standing on the coast and watching the giant ships coming toward land. Young expresses the magnificent culture of the Aztecs and their extravagant clothing and rituals and how in one swift moment that can all be taken away. The build up of the song, reaches a climatic moment when we realize that an entire culture is wiped out by a few conquistadors that are left with no choice but to conquer and wipe out the entire Aztec Civilization.

4 Washington Bullets, by the Clash

“Washington Bullets” is a song that attacks America’s world police policy and at the same time attacks communism’s and capitalism’s hypocritical approaches. Who is benefiting from all these bullets that are spread throughout the world? Someone is making lots of money off of old tanks, planes and guns. The song lets you know that even though the words have changed, America is still involved in building up an Empire and in order to maintain the Empire, the Washington Bullets have to carve the way. The Clash had an effective way of exposing deep problems around the world and the Cold War Era had its share of deceptive intentions.

5 The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, by Gordan Lightfoot

Ever since I was able to board the Niagara in Erie, PA, I have been fascinated with ship wrecks. It’s obvious that the sea is a powerful force and Lightfoot takes you on the perilous journey of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in Lake Superior back in Nov, 1975. He shows the comradery of the ships crew as the cook says, “It’s been good to know ya”. This song opens your eyes to how unforgiving the sea can be and how difficult and dangerous of a journey it had to of been for the first ships crossing the Oceans around the world, let along the Great Lakes.

Others that deserve mention: "The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down", by the Band and "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda", by the Pogues. Sorry to anyone that felt that Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" should be in the top five list, but just repeating random historical names does not consist in a great historical song.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Dying Breed - Print Media

I have two friends in the newspaper business. I know I can count on both for good conversation and bits of hilarious self-deprecation. Lately, things aren't looking good for the industry. The internet has left print newspapers behind, especially for people below the age of thirty. In 2008, 59 percent preferred the Internet, while 28 percent hung on to the old-fashioned method of reading a newspaper, according to a recent statement by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, a Washington, D.C.-based public opinion research organization.

Things are so bad that my buddy described working for the paper as "I feel like we're all on the deck of the Titanic, admiring the pretty icebergs." I recently read this article in the Washington Post by David Simon.
He does a wonderful job of bringing to light one aspect of the newspaper's relevance.
If it's too much for me to ask you to read, then please watch this video put together by the venerable Rocky Mountain News, which recently stopped print since being around two years before the first shots were fired in the Civil War.

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Things I learned from drinking Craft Beer - Mind Your P's and Q's

Last week, I took a trip to Jersey City to visit friends. While my wife went up to the top of the Empire State Building, my buddy Kepic and I decided to kill the time drinking pints in the Heartland Brewery on the ground level. Later, around the table for lunch, Kepic noticed a card with interesting beer tidbits. One talked about the history of the term, "Mind your P's and Q's." Back in Ithaca, I looked it up and found out that Heartland's claim is one of many, but there is no refutable evidence that it's true. The brewery claims that it comes from pints and quarts, the two main measurements for drinks. When things would get rowdy in bars, you would often hear "Mind your pints and quarts!" I like the idea and hope it's true.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What was it Like? - In the Trenches of World War I.

When I think about history, I always wanted to put myself in the shoes of the people that lived in these situations that I was reading about. What it must of been like to cross the treacherous Ocean on a boat for months without knowing where you were going or to be a slave traveling like a caged up animal in chains, surrounding by sickness and stench. How a soldier must of felt when they were lined up to charge into ongoing gunfire from across the field or taken a little further back swinging swords or axes and dodging arrows. Well one situation that I would like to look at in, What was it Like?, that really interested me was the trench warfare from World War I. Set to be the "War to end All War", World War I had its share of new weaponry teamed up with old school (Napoleonic War Era) war strategy, which led to a slaughterhouse of young men that were in search of an adventure they never expected to be so dreadful and deadly.

The construction of trenches is as old as the existence of war. However, the scale of trench warfare during World War I was unlike anything ever seen on earth and it was a war of attrition that stayed in a constant stalemate. Truly a World War, there were battles being fought in Africa, Turkey, the Middle East, Asia; but smack dab in the middle of Europe laid these trenches that served as a suicide mechanism. What is Trench Warfare? Trench Warfare is a warfare in which both combatants have trenches that are fortified and the lines are constantly moving back and forth in a defensive-oriented fashion. One big problem with the trench warfare that was happening during WW I, was that the generals were slaughtering their own soldiers by refusing to change their war strategy. The old school Napoleonic Era columnar tactic in which the soldiers march in a column toward the enemy line as opposed to a open order skirmish led to millions of unnecessary deaths in the first few years of the war.

Now lets get back to what life was like in the trenches for soldiers. First thing we need to understand about life in the trenches was what kind of weapons were being used during WW I. There were several new weapons being used in the Great War and also improvements on older weapons. Infantry carried with them in the trenches rifles with bayonets, shotguns, and grenades. Machine guns were used for the first time in battalions and there were the light machine guns that individual soldiers carried and heavy machine guns, which needed 8 people to use and maneuver and that served as a fixed attack on the enemy line. Soldiers were constantly killed or injured by incoming mortars and artillery. Fragmentation from these bombings often injured, buried or killed soldiers that were in fixed trenches. Many different gases were used until both sides found that mustard gas was not as easy to detect in the air as the others. New weapons were being used as well like the flamethrower and the first uses of tanks and planes in war, but these weapons were used sparingly and planes were mostly for reconnaissance and artillery spotting. Barbed wire became a horrendous obstacle that served as a buffer for enemy lines. New improvements in helmets helped soldiers that in the beginning of the war were using leather helmets. These new weapons and improvements on weapons are what led to such a grueling stalemate of a war, because there were really no advances on each side as a result of not being able to break the lines and hold them.

What must life have been like in the trenches? Soldiers were constantly exposed to artillery, snipers and machine guns in the trenches. Besides the enemy, the soldiers had to fight against diseases from lice, rats the size of cats (which would feed off the dead bodies laying around), the cold weather which could lead to Trench Fever and the muddy water in trenches that sometimes reached their knees and could cause Trench Foot (Led to many soldiers having their feet amputated). The psychological and physical effects of war can be very heavy on these soldiers who were sometimes sleeping next to dead bodies that they couldn't find the time to bury. Soldiers did not have a lot of leave time either and were in the front lines for long periods of time and even behind the front lines they were still likely to be hit by artillery or shrapnel. One thing that had to get to the soldiers was the smell that filled the air from the dead bodies that were either laying around or buried in shallow graves nearby. It is easy to see that life in the trenches during World War I was a very extreme experience that left all soldiers psychologically scarred and many physically injured. Entire generations of youth lost their lives in a war that accomplished nothing but death and destruction and as a result of bad war strategies, many unnecessary deaths happened.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stump Johnny Pit #1 -Results

The results are in. Johnny scored an impressive 80% on his first quiz. Hopefully, you had time to take the quiz and take on the champ. Here is the quiz again, with both the correct answers and Johnny's guesses.

1. What was the name of the play Lincoln was watching when he was shot?

2. What is the term for a Northerner in the South after the American Civil War usually seeking private gain under the reconstruction governments?

3. What was the rowdiest town in the old west, featuring legendary marshals like Tom “Bear River” Smith and “Wild” Bill Hickok?

4. Which University was built with shady land grants, contracts, and enormous overpayments to a railroad company and also boasted future president Herbert Hoover in its first graduating class?

5. What was the name of the new steel method that was the first inexpensive industrial process for the mass-production of steel from molten pig iron and revolutionized the industry?

6. During the war of 1812, which Native American leader was killed while fighting for the British in the Battle of the Thames?

7. What was the Democratic Party political machine that controlled New York City politics for over 100 years and featured Boss Tweed as one of its famous corrupt leaders?

8. What is the name of the secret Irish coal miners organization responsible for violent crimes in the 1870’s?

9. What is the term for power-hungry wealthy businessmen like JP Morgan , Jay Gould, and Andrew Carnegie?

10. September 24, 1869 was a stock market panic, causing a depression lasting for years. What is this date known as?

Correct Answer

1. Our American Cousin
2. Carpet Bagger
3. Abilene, Kansas
4. Stanford
5. Bessemer
6. Tecumseh
7. Tammany Hall
8. Molly Maguires
9. Robber Baron
10. Black Friday

Johnny Pit’s
1. Our American Cousin
2. Carpet Bagger
3. Dodge City
4. Stanford
5. Bessemer
6. Red Jacket
7. Tammany Hall
8. Molly Maguires
9. Robber Baron
10. Black Friday

I feel bad for the Dodge City-Abilene question but Red Jacket was definitely off the mark.
Look for the next challenge soon, and feel free to send in any potential questions.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cousin Jesse's Peeps: Lt. Hiroo Onoda

When you are looking at the biography of very interesting people, it has an impact on you as an individual. You want to know how this person felt when they were faced with difficult decisions like what JFK faced during the Cuban Missile Crisis. You want to know how this person was able to overcome shortcomings or loss. Well I intend to focus on people in, Cousin Jesse's Peeps, that are unique individuals that may not be very popular in history textbooks, but are far more important to absorbing history than chopping cherry trees or living in log cabins.

In order to truly understand the Japanese soldiers mindset, you have to know a little about the culture of Japan. At the time of World War II, the majority of people in Japan believed in Shintoism, a religion that is an almost cult like belief in deities of natural forces and veneration of the Emperor as a descendant of the sun goddess. Through the Bushido code, the Japanese culture looked down upon surrendering as a disgrace and they believed that the highest honor was to die in battle. There were no concerns of death for a soldier, because that was what was expected of you. This is dramatically shown through the example of young kamikaze ("divine wind") pilots that were given just enough gas in their plane to reach a target and crash dive into it, the whole time knowing that they will die as soon as they leave the airstrip. The Japanese Empire at its greatest strength, controlled most of the Pacific territory, including some of mainland China. So there were Japanese soldiers spread out throughout the Pacific, in places like the Philippines, Guam, and South East Asia. Japan was so spread out that, when the atomic bombs hit Japan and Emperor Hirohito gave his speech that called for an end to the war, there were some people who were never notified that World War II had ended and they continued to fight.

One soldier that followed the Bushido code very strictly was Lt. Hiroo Onoda; 23 years old at the time, he was a Japanese soldier that was sent to the Philippines in December 1944 to conduct sabotage missions and guerrilla attacks on the American soldiers that were landing in the Philippines. While Lt. Onoda was in the Philippines, the majority of his fellow soldiers were captured or killed and he found himself and three other Japanese soldiers alone in the jungle. However following the Bushido code, these soldiers refused to surrender and continued to run guerrilla attacks on soldiers, farmers and fishermen that were in the area. A few months later the US drops top secret bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan decides that its time to surrender, but meanwhile Lt. Onoda and the three other soldiers are unaware of the Japanese surrender and they continue to do what they were trained to do, guerilla warfare.

For years Onoda and the three other soldiers ignored leaflets that were dropped, saying the war had ended and they ignored pictures of their families and pleas for them to return. They thought that it was war propaganda, trying to convince them to come out of hiding so they could get captured. As the years went along, one by one the other three soldiers surrendered or were killed in scrambles for food as the soldiers would do guerrilla warfare runs on unsuspecting farmers or fishermen. It wasn't until 1972, that anyone made contact with Onoda and this was a young Japanese college dropout, Norio Suzuki, that was actually trying to find Onoda. Once he found Onoda, he had difficulty trying to convince him that the war had ended in 1945 and that he needed to surrender and come home. Onoda refused to surrender until a commanding officer told him that the war was over. Suzuki went back to Japan and brought back Onoda's commanding officer to tell him to lay down his arms. So 29 years later and finally Onoda's war ended and he walked out of the Jungle that he called home for so long. This extreme example of dedication to one's nation shows that some cultures are able to use religion and belief systems as a controlling mechanism with no strings attached.

Monday, February 9, 2009

An Artist's Depiction: Guernica and The Power of Picasso

Throughout history, artwork has been used to honor the gods or God or great leaders. Sometimes artwork is just what is left behind by a culture like cave paintings and great architectural structures. Usually an artist is trying to depict a strong emotion or event that affected them in their lifetime. It may be a depiction of heaven, hell and purgatory or a simple pond with lily pads. In this episode of An Artist's Depiction, we will take a look at Picasso's powerful painting Guernica.

Pablo Picasso who was famous for cubism and abstract modern art, was greatly affected by the violence in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and the German bombing of the Spanish resistance city Guernica, in April of 1937, which killed hundreds of civilians, left him appalled. He was commissioned by Spanish rulers to create an artwork for the Paris International Art Exposition and he decided to create a powerful artwork that transcends the horrors of war throughout history. You can see the pain and suffering that people and animals experienced in the chaos of Guernica, in its black and white state of lifelessness. This painting has a stranglehold on anti-war art as you can see the anger in the creation of this painting, that you almost feel like you are thrown into the night time scene in Guernica trying to avoid bombs and shrapnel and collapsing roofs. Those bombs might have crushed and destroyed the city, but the aftermath and Picasso's depiction of the event keep the resistance against fascism and militarism alive.

Stump Johnny Pit #1

Welcome to another feature here at Doomed to Repeat. In "Stump Johnny Pit," I'll post ten history-based trivia questions to the blog. I'll also email Johnny Pitaressi, outdoor writer for the Utica Observer-Dispatch and all-around history buff. A few days after the post the answers will be available on the website, so you can see if you beat Johnny Pit.

1. What was the name of the play Lincoln was watching when he was shot?

2. What is the term for a Northerner in the South after the American Civil War usually seeking private gain under the reconstruction governments?

3. What was the rowdiest town in the old west, featuring legendary marshals like Tom “Bear River” Smith and “Wild” Bill Hickok?

4. Which University was built with shady land grants, contracts, and enormous overpayments to a railroad company and also boasted future president Herbert Hoover in its first graduating class?

5. What was the name of the new steel method that was the first inexpensive industrial process for the mass-production of steel from molten pig iron and revolutionized the industry?

6. During the war of 1812, which Native American leader was killed while fighting for the British in the Battle of the Thames?

7. What was the Democratic Party political machine that controlled New York City politics for over 100 years and featured Boss Tweed as one of its famous corrupt leaders?

8. What is the name of the secret Irish coal miners organization responsible for violent crimes in the 1870’s?

9. What is the term for power-hungry wealthy businessmen like JP Morgan , Jay Gould, and Andrew Carnegie?

10. September 24, 1869 was a stock market panic, causing a depression lasting for years. What is this date more commonly known as?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Taboo: Wife Abduction in Kyrgyzstan

Taboo has different meanings in different cultures (think supernatural versus FCC), but the one we may be most familiar with in our culture is that taboo is something that is banned on the grounds of morality or taste. Well some examples of things that might make some people ill at ease, would be self-mutilations, incest, and polygamy. In this occasion of taboo, I will take a look at a practice of marriage that reminds me of cave man days, with clubs and women being dragged behind by their hair. Only these men use taxi cabs and the aide of taxi drivers to get their future soul mate and they don't need a club. They just need brute force and some mental coercion for the beautiful wedding day.

Relaxing to a little PBS the other day, I caught an episode of Frontline called Kyrgyzstan- the Kidnapped Bride. From what I know about the country of Kyrgyzstan, it is a rather mountainous area with not very much development in terms of manufacturing. It was a gateway to China along the Silk Road and was under Soviet Union rule for years until the Soviet collapse in 1991. During Soviet rule, the cultural practice of bride kidnapping was outlawed, but now that Kyrgyzstan gained independence, the people are trying to gain ethnic identity to their past cultural activities. Although bride kidnapping is outlawed still, the laws are mainly ignored by the courts, because many of these courts are a group of elders that want to go back to past Kyrgyz customs.

During this show, they follow a young man and his friends as they go out in search of a girl that he had seen and was interested in as a kidnapping prospect. His mode of transportation was a taxi cab, which shows you that bride kidnapping isn't too taboo for cab drivers, who sometimes help with the abduction for a small fee (the wife stealing tradition was usually on horseback). Once kidnapped, the bride to be is brought to the grooms home, where she is surrounded by all the women in the groom to be's family as they try to convince her that she must get married. They try to convince her that this is the way things are supposed to be and that they too were at one time kidnapped and now they are happy. If the girl lets them put on the ceremonial white wedding scarf, then the woman must accept the marriage. Now Frontline was able to actually show a kidnapping take place, but the one they showed was possibly mild, because it was being filmed. However, there are times when the kidnappings are accompanied by violence and rape and sometimes lead to the young women committing suicide. Mostly though, when they talked to the people of Kyrgyzstan, they seemed to accept the tradition at face value and had no problem with forced marriage, especially in rural areas where more people in the family, means more workers.

Wife abduction is not limited to Kyrgyzstan, but also takes place in other areas of Central Asia as well as in China, Africa and European gypsy cultures. At first glance, wife abduction seems like a very barbaric and primitive tradition that is extremely taboo. One quote from the Frontline show that really made me wonder about marriage overall was when a groom was asked a week later how the marriage was going and he said, "We're happy. Keep visiting and we'll be happier". I was left thinking, is forced marriage any worse than arranged marriage? In both situations, people are left without a choice in who they will marry. Still I think what makes wife abduction so taboo is that it takes the choice out of who you fall in love with and you get forced into being with some stranger that may or may not repulse you or be a complete idiot. The only positive thing that I can think of that comes from wife abduction is that the woman doesn't have to worry about growing old alone. So when you are out partying it up at some clubs tonight ladies, be thankful you don't have to worry about being kidnapped and forced into marriage with some McDonald's cashier or a Mechanic instead of that Doctor that you always dreamed about.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Local Lore: Such a Lovely Canal

There are always very interesting stories behind just about every city or small town that you visit or live in. Sometimes these stories are only known by the people that live in that city or town and it lives in their stories that they tell at the local barber shop or Mom's diner. Then there is the case of a lovely canal in my hometown that made it on the national scene and became a popular footnote on man made national disasters.

Often I have walked outside my house and have been engulfed in a cloud of chlorine gas or mustard gas possibly, who knows what they are letting into the air. Now its not that bad to have a little bit of chlorine gas in your lungs as long as I don't end up looking like the Toxic Avenger. When you start to see people wearing hazmat outfits collecting leaves with tweezers and testing the ground around you, it is time to start wondering what the hell is going on.

This is a local story about a blatant disregard for FUTURE GENERATIONS and a perfect example of how we are Doomed to Repeat, because to this day we still have one of the largest hazardous waste dumps in America sitting extremely close to a school. Well lets start off with what exactly is Love Canal and what happened there. Well one day a man named William T Love wanted to build a canal and a lovely community that he hoped would prosper in Niagara Falls. He began building a canal but found that it was too difficult to create and ended up selling the unfinished Canal to Hooker Chemicals, who decided that the unfinished Canal would be perfect for burying large amounts of toxic chemicals. Kind of reminds me of that huge glowing green puddle that use to be near Gold Circles. You know right next to the giant landfill smack dab in the middle of the city of Niagara Falls. Well back to Hooker Chemical Co., they decided that they would bury 21,000 tons of toxic waste beneath a neighborhood radius that covers 36 blocks. After supposedly sealing barrels of toxic waste underground, Hooker decided that is was time to get rid of this horrendous glowing land and the lucky consumer of this tainted land was the Niagara Falls School district and the City of Niagara Falls, which they bought for one dollar. Even though both the school district and the city knew that this land was used to store toxic waste underground, they decided to build a school, park and neighborhood.

Well once strange odors and weird looking stuff started seeping through the soil in people's yards and children started to fall ill. People began to wonder, what the hell was going on? In 1978, Lois Gibbs, a resident in Love Canal, decided to investigate the many health problems that began to spread in the neighborhood after she discovered that her son had developed epilepsy and other health problems. Some other problems that people began to see happening at alarming rates, were things like high amounts of miscarriages, nervous disorders, extra rows of teeth, cancers and toxic materials found in the milk of nursing mothers. Gibbs did everything she could to bring this problem to the public and eventually this led to the closing down of the school and park and many people began to leave the neighborhood at the loss of their homes, which they obviously couldn't sell. Love Canal and a few other man made toxic waste disasters led to the creation of the Comprehension Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) to make sure that companies that create toxic wastelands are responsible for cleaning up their mess, but most companies find ways to get around paying the amount of money necessary for really cleaning up the mess.

To this day you can visit Love Canal and look at the fenced in area that still holds tons of toxic waste and walk through the ghost town. Some people still live in this neighborhood, but most houses are boarded up and there are many open fields. Love Canal proves that in a civilization that claims to be advanced, you are still going to run into ridiculous scenarios like building an entire NEIGHBORHOOD ON TOP OF TOXIC WASTE!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Top Five's -- Causes or Events that Led the US to Enter into War.

1. Impressment/Boston Tea Party/Boston Massacre
You can lump these causes into one big category, because they are all connected in some way to the people finally saying, "I have had enough". Forced into war or labor, taxed on every product and war fought, and told when you can and can't assemble together will eventually lead to revolution. History has all kinds of examples of the people standing up and taking control from the oppressor. (See French and Russian Revolution)

2. Attack on Pearl Harbor
For a World War that started in 1939, the United States stood back and made all kinds of money selling and loaning arms and supplies to all the European countries at war. Attacks on American trading vessels by German U-boats was not enough to get the US to enter into war. However, on December 7th 1941, when the Japanese attacked the US navy base Pearl Harbor in a supposedly surprise attack and over 1,000 American soldiers were killed. The United States declared war on Japan and later Germany and Italy.

3. Manifest Destiny
What has a better sound to it? We are taking this land from you and sending you where ever you are out of the way, because I said so or because this is what God wants. Well I guess it would make the conquerors feel a lot better if its all for the sake of God. Which is why most of the cities in California are Spanish and Native American names are spread throughout our rivers and lakes like ghosts from the past.

4. Sinking (explosion) of the Maine
A battleship that sank in very mysterious ways was the incendiary to the powder keg that was the Spanish-American War, in 1898. Over 200 soldiers lost their lives in this explosion that was never really investigated thoroughly, but was declared a naval mine and that it was definitely Spain, because it was off the coast of Havana, Cuba. This led to the famous rally cries of, "Remember the Maine! To Hell with Spain!" Many researchers however believe that the Maine sank because of an internal explosion in the hull.

5. Gulf of Tonkin Incident
Even though the US had been involved in Vietnam for several years prior to the Gulf of Tonkin Incident in 1964, this event led to a great surge in troops, supplies and money into a war that was just beginning to escalate. The claim of the US military was that the destroyer USS Maddox was attacked by three North Vietnamese torpedo boats and that these attacks were unprovoked because it was international waters. This event gave the President and future Presidents the power to declare war without actually declaring it.

Others that deserve mention: South Carolina Secession and 911/Weapons of Mass Destruction

Things I learned from drinking Craft Beer - Mad Anthony Wayne

When I lived in Erie, PA, I quaffed quite a few local beers. While I enjoyed the stronger Railbender and the crisp Presque Isle Pilsner, I was most intrigued by Mad Anthony's Ale. This beer was named for "Mad" Anthony Wayne, who served as a general under George Washington in the Revolutionary War and took fort after fort for the United States in the late 1700's.
Wayne even established Fort Recovery, which is a great Centro-Matic album. Mad Anthony died from complications from gout, a disease both Jesse and I hold dear here at Doomed to Repeat.

Not trying to diminish the good General's achievements freedom-fighting for the United fact Wayne's vistory at Fallen Timbers ended for all time the power of the British on American soil... but the real interesting part comes after his death. 13 years after Wayne was buried in Erie, PA, his son decided that his father should be buried in the family burial plot in Radnor, PA. When the coffin was opened, the body had not decomposed! The Mad general's body was burned in a large kettle, to separate the bones from the flesh. So, Mad Anthony Wayne is buried in two places. I've visited his burial site in Erie, and seen the replica kettle used to boil his bones at the Erie Historical Society.
(Right now, you can listen to his story on their website).
Fascinating man, fascinating history!

Top Five's -- Most Important Books in U.S. History

1. Common Sense - Thomas Paine

2. Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriot Beecher Stowe

3. the Jungle - Upton Sinclair

4. How the Other Half Lives - Jacob Riis

5. Silent Spring - Rachel Carson

One incited a revolution. One sparked a civil war. One exposed the American meatpacking industry. One used muck racking photojournalism to expose New York City slums. One launched the environmental movement. All these books served as a catalyst to something major in our history, and their repercussions are still felt today. Does anyone have any other suggestions? Has anyone read these books and can testify on their worthiness or unworthiness? Let's hear it.

Doomed to Repeat: An Allegory of History

When you think about history, the first thing most people think of is huge textbooks with very dry and boring writing about how great a person the President was and what kind of tree they chopped down or what log cabin they lived in. This leaves all the interesting stories and controversial events to be desired. Well here at Doomed to Repeat, we refuse to duplicate this rubbish that people call history and we plan to look at the intriguing historical stories and people that changed the world for better or worse. Its important that we understand exactly what George Santayana meant when he said, "Those who can't remember the past, are condemned to repeat it". This means when humans create their own history (swim in the spoils), then we will not learn from the past and the same problems and conflicts will keep coming up over and over again. So fasten your seat belts and hold onto the wheel as we venture through the streets of history and do some window shopping. Hopefully you learn something new along the way.