Amazon Deals

New at Amazon

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Happy New Year links - history, advice and lots of hangover cures

Happy New Year! A happy and healthy 2019 to all.

How (Not) to Celebrate the New Year: advice from 700 AD (hint - if you dress up as a stag or a calf you'll spend 3 years doing penance). 

Strange New Year traditions around the world.

Smithsonian's Top 11 Stories of 2018. 

The Guardian's best photographs of 2018, with commentary by the people who shot them. Also, National Geographic's 100 best images of the year. and their Best Animal Photos.

The Surprising Origins of the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop Tradition.

Lifehacker's Most Popular Posts of 2018. 

The 16 Best Gadgets of 2018. 

The Top 10 Websites for Science in 2018. 


Dave Barry’s 2018 Year in Review. Here's the 2017 version, and the columns for previous years are available here.

Some links to avoid becoming philogrobolized
Your Complete Guide to the Science of Hangovers
Infographic on the Anatomy of a Hangover
Hangover Cures From Famous Heavy Drinkers
Scientists Find a Way to Cut Wine Hangovers
5 Really Strange Ways to Cure a Hangover
Dark Liquor Makes For Worse Hangovers
How to Cure a Hangover in 10 Simple Steps.
According to a study in the Journal of Food Science, the amino acids and minerals found in asparagus extract may alleviate alcohol hangover and protect liver cells against toxins.

Why We Sing Auld Lang Syne on New Year’s Eve, and here's Mark Steyn singing and explaining the song What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

Eat your heart out, New York: Boise, Idaho drops a giant potato downtown on New Year's Eve.

ICYMI, Most recent (all Christmas-related) links are here.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Roundup of Christmas links

Please accept with no obligation, implied or explicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2019, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

In the Christmas In Other Cultures category, here's a Klingon Christmas Carol. Also, how to have a British ChristmasSweden's bizarre tradition of watching Donald Duck (Kalle Anka) cartoons on Christmas Eve, Strange Christmas Traditions Around the World, and Japan's obsession with Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas.

At Christmas, this town builds a Giant Yule goat and then torches it.

Great Literary Christmas Tales That Aren’t A Christmas Carol.

The real history of ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ - it all started with a Montgomery Ward marketing campaign in 1939.


The Real Story Behind A Charlie Brown Christmas (and why it almost wasn’t shown).


Little Drummer Boy, sung by David Bowie and Bing Crosby.




10 Important Facts About A Christmas Story's Leg Lamp. Related: Ralphie teamed up with Flash Gordon in a deleted scene from A Christmas Story.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include the winter solstice (plus descriptions of the concurrent celebrations of Saturnalia and Halcyon Days), why we kiss under the mistletoe and how the plant got that strange name (spoiler - it literally means "dung twig"), and the classic Christmas drunken fruitcake recipe.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Friday links

December 21 is the winter solstice, the first day of winter, and the shortest day of the year. Here are science, history, and short video explanations of the celestial mechanics involved, plus descriptions of the concurrent celebrations of Saturnalia and Halcyon Days.


The 1914 Christmas truce.

The classic Christmas drunken fruitcake recipe: Check the whiskey. Pour 1 level cup and drink. Repeat.

That Christmas when Parisians Ate the Zoo.

10 Important Facts About A Christmas Story's Leg Lamp. Related: Ralphie teamed up with Flash Gordon in a deleted scene from A Christmas Story.

ICYMI, most recent links are here, and include the pre-Seinfeld origins of Festivus, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer's origin story, and that time Santa Claus took the Union's side in the Civil War.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Japan is Obsessed with Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas

Read the whole thing: In Japan, apparently fried chicken and Christmas have become synonymous.

Christmas isn’t a national holiday in Japan—only one percent of the Japanese population is estimated to be Christian—yet a bucket of “Christmas Chicken” (the next best thing to turkey—a meat you can’t find anywhere in Japan) is the go-to meal on the big day. And it’s all thanks to the insanely successful “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!) marketing campaign in 1974.

When a group of foreigners couldn’t find turkey on Christmas day and opted for fried chicken instead, the company saw this as a prime commercial opportunity and launched its first Christmas meal that year: Chicken and wine for 834 yen($10)—pretty pricey for the mid-seventies. Today the Christmas chicken dinner (which now boasts cake and champagne) goes for about 3,336 yen ($40).

And the people come in droves. Many order their boxes of ”finger lickin’” holiday cheer months in advance to avoid the lines—some as long as two hours.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Friday links

.
One of the Biggest Meteor Showers of the Year Returns This Week — Here’s How to See It.


The real history of ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ - it all started with a Montgomery Ward marketing campaign in 1939.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include lots of ugly Christmas sweaters (plus instructions for making your own), how McDonald's got started, why woodpeckers don't get concussions, how your apps are tracking you (and who they're sharing the info with), and advice from c. 1200: on how to survive the winter (don't forget to lay off the purging and blood-letting, and keep your hands and feet covered in wolf grease).

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Wednesday links

Lots of ugly Christmas sweaters, instructions for making your own, plus ugly Christmas sweater suits. Related, here's how to make Ugly Sweater Ornaments.

Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret.


Advice from c. 1200: How to Survive the Winter. Don't forget to lay off the purging and blood-letting, and keep your hands and feet covered in wolf grease.

The lost art of flower-making.


ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include using fake "master" fingerprints to unlock smartphones,  the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, an interactive map shows all the ways medieval London could kill you, and T'was the Overnight Before Christmas: The Merry Tale of How Air Cargo Deregulation Led To Amazon. 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Lots of ugly Christmas sweaters, instructions for making your own, plus ugly Christmas sweater suits.

Ugly sweater for two available here.
In the phrase "ugly Christmas sweater," the word "ugly" is a term of art, a description rather than a put-down. One wears an ugly Christmas sweater precisely because it is so over the top, crammed with images of weighted-down Christmas trees, cartoony reindeer, red-cheeked Santas, and leering snowmen. Sequins are encouraged, as are lights. And if the sweater is three-dimensional, all the better.

There are currently 314,601 listings on eBay for "ugly Christmas sweater".

Want to tart up your own outfit? Try this light-up LED Christmas bulb necklace.

New and improved: Ugly Christmas Sweater suits:




A few favorites:





For Second Amendment types (Molon Labe ("Come and take them") was Leonidas' response to Xerxes when asked to surrender weapons at the battle of Thermopylae):








Wanna go the cheap route? The are lots of DIY kits, here's how to make your own - more ideas here and here. More photos here. And check out Collector's Weekly's All-Time Ugliest Christmas Sweaters.

And, of course, there are ugly Happy Chanukah sweaters:


Friday, December 7, 2018

Friday links

T'was the Overnight Before Christmas: The Merry Tale of How Air Cargo Deregulation Led To Amazon


How to Cook an Egg with Magnets.

A day that will live in infamy: It's the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor: some history, contemporaneous newsreels, and a Monty Python re-enactment.

The Glamorous, Sexist History of the Women’s Restroom Lounge

Interactive map shows all the ways medieval London could kill you.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include the anniversary of the end of prohibition, how wombats produce square poo, a selection of weird nativity sets, and the history of Jingle Bells.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Wednesday links

The precursor to the war on drugs - Prohibition in the United States began on January 16, 1920 and ended on December 5, 1933. Related: here's Winston Churchill's doctor's note allowing him to drink "unlimited" alcohol in prohibition-era America.

Scientists Solve Mystery of How Wombats Produce Cubed Poo.


A selection of weird nativity sets.


Field of dreams: heartbreak and heroics at the World Plowing Championships.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

I was born on November 22, 1948; a few ruminations on growing old, plus the Thanksgiving birthday pattern

For those of us born between the 22nd and 28th and have always wondered, here's how it works: the Thanksgiving Birthday Pattern.

The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.

~ H. L. Mencken

I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming that comes when you finish the life of the emotions and of personal relations; and suddenly find - at the age of fifty, say - that a whole new life has opened before you, filled with things you can think about, study, or read about...It is as if a fresh sap of ideas and thoughts was rising in you.

~ Agatha Christie

All would live long, but none would be old.

~ Benjamin Franklin

The first half of our lives is ruined by our parents, and the second half by our children.

~ Clarence Darrow

Every old man complains of the growing depravity of the world, of the petulance and insolence of the rising generation.

~ Dr. Johnson

Too old to plant trees for my own gratification, I shall do it for my posterity.

~ Thomas Jefferson

How pleasant is the day when we give up striving to be young -- or slender.

~ William James

For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away,
The sky is filled with stars invisible by day.

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Morituri Salutamus

It is an illusion that youth is happy, an illusion of those who have lost it; but the young know they are wretched for they are full of the truthless ideals which have been instilled into them, and each time they come in contact with the real, they are bruised and wounded.

~ W. Somerset Maugham, Of Human Bondage

When I was young I was amazed at Plutarch's statement that the elder Cato began at the age of eighty to learn Greek. I am amazed no longer. Old age is ready to undertake tasks that youth shirked because they would take too long.

~ W. Somerset Maugham

Optima quaeque dies miseris mortalibus aevi prima fugit: subeunt morbi tristique senectus et labor, et durae rapit inclementia mortis.

~ Virgil
Of the measure of days allowed to piteous mortals, the best days are first to leave: illness and sorry old age loom up, suffering and death's untender mercies take all away.
Experience is a revelation in the light of which we renounce our errors of youth for those of age. 

~ Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary

When the loud day for men who sow and reap
Grows still and on the silence of the town
The unsubstantial veils of night and sleep,
The meed of day's labour, settle down,
Then for me in the stillness of the night
The wasting, watchful hours drag on their course,
And in the idle darkness comes the bite
Of all the burning serpents of remorse;
Dreams seethe; and fretful infelicities
Are swarming in my over-burdened soul,
And Memory before my wakeful eyes
With noiseless hand unwinds her lengthy scroll.
Then, as with loathing I peruse the years,
I tremble, and I curse my natal day,
Wail bitterly, and bitterly shed tears,
But cannot wash the woeful script away.

~ Alexander Pushkin, Remembrance

The spiritual eyesight improves as the physical eyesight declines.

~ Plato

So Life's year begins and closes;
Days, though short'ning, still can shine;
What though youth gave love and roses,
Age still leaves us friends and wine.

~ Thomas Moore, Spring and Autumn

Though now this grained face of mine be hid
In sap-consuming winter's drizzled snow,
And all the conduits of my blood froze up,
Yet hath my night of life some memory,
My wasting lamps some fading glimmer left,
My dull deaf ears a little use to hear.

~ William Shakespeare, The Comedy of Errors

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

A Thanksgiving miscellany: Mark Twain, science, WKRP, Cicero, the best turkey fryer PSA ever, more

I've accumulated a LOT of Thanksgiving-related links over the years, so I've divided them up - here's the first set.

I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.


Cartoon (The Oatmeal): Thanksgiving as a kid VS Thanksgiving as an adult.

Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful for - annually, not oftener - if they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months, instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians. Thanksgiving Day became a habit, for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man's side, consequently on the Lord's side; hence it was proper to thank the Lord for it and to extend the usual annual compliments.

~ Mark Twain Autobiography

WKRP Turkey Drop episode: "As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly"



Gratius animus est una virtus non solum maxima, sed etiam mater virtutum omnium reliquaram.

~ Marcus Tullius CiceroOratio pro Cnaeo Plancio, 23
A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the mother of all other virtues.
The excellent William Shatner fried turkey PSA:


Turkey fryer alert: 86 year old man deep fries own leg. Or as he calls it, his drumstick.

If you're actually going to fry a turkey, you might consider Alton Brown's advice on how to construct a derrick over your turkey fryer.





Pi vs Pie.

The voices of Christopher Walken and John Madden: The First Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Round-up of Thanksgiving links

A Thanksgiving miscellany: Mark Twain, science, WKRP, Cicero and the best turkey fryer PSA ever.

10 Thanksgiving Words With Bizarre Origins.


A bird in a bird in a bird in a bird in a bird in a pig: the TurBacon Epic.


This Man Made the First Canned Cranberry Sauce.




For those of us born between the 22nd and 28th and have always wondered, here's how it works: the Thanksgiving Birthday Pattern.



Dave Barry Thanksgiving columns from 199619982004... feel free to add more in the comments.

Buffy Thanksgiving episode: "Ritual sacrifice, with pie."

Monday links

The Gettysburg Address was seven score and fifteen years ago: here's some history and a brief video with contemporaneous photos and illustrations. Related: Pennsylvania newspaper prints retraction (written in the style of the Gettysburg Address) for 1863 article calling Gettysburg address "silly remarks".

Napoleonic refugees in America.

I'd forgotten all about the USFL: Donald Trump’s Misadventures in Professional Football.

President James Garfield's birthday - when he was shot, Alexander Graham Bell showed up with a metal detector to try to locate the bullet. 

Three Centuries After His Beheading, a Kinder, Gentler Blackbeard Emerges.

There's still time to gather all of the ingredients: The traditional drunken turkey recipe.

ICYMI, most recent links are here, and include Veterans Day links, why pencils are yellow, hair washing advice from the 12th and 17th centuries, and football physics.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

November 19 is President James Garfield's birthday

For mere vengeance I would do nothing. This nation is too great to look for more revenge. But for security of the future, I would do everything. 

~ James A. Garfield (wiki) (speech, 15 April 1865, on the occasion of President Lincoln's assassination) 

Nobody but radicals have ever accomplished anything in a great crisis. Conservatives have their place in the piping times of peace, but in emergencies, only rugged issue men amount to much. 

~  Garfield (statement in his diary for 1876) 

I am trying to do two things: dare to be a radical and not be a fool, which, if I may judge by the exhibitions around me, is a matter of no small difficulty. 

~ Garfield (letter to Burke A. Hinsdale, 11 January 1867) 

The divorce between the church and the state ought to be absolute; It ought to be so absolute that no church anywhere in any State or in the nation should be exempt from equal taxation; for if you exempt the property of any church organization, to that extent you impose a church tax on the whole community.

~ Garfield (in the House of Representatives, 22 June 1874) 

Garfield died of a gunshot wound, from a disgruntled office-seeker, that today would probably not be life threatening. They just couldn't find the bullet and get it out. Alexander Graham Bell's attempt to locate it electronically, with the first metal-detector, failed, confused by the metal bed springs. Sadly, within ten years, the discovery of X-rays would provide a technology that could have made finding the bullet easy, even routine. With no antibiotics to control the infection, Garfield lingered painfully for more than two months.

~ Kelley L. Ross (b. 1949) (The Great Republic: Presidents and States of the United States) 

He did not flash forth as a meteor; he rose with measured and stately step over rough paths and through years of rugged work. He earned his passage to every preferment. He was tried and tested at every step in his pathway of progress. He produced his passport at every gateway to opportunity and glory. His broad and benevolent nature made him the friend of all mankind.

~ William McKinley (1843-1901)* (eulogy on the unveiling of a statue of President Garfield, 19 January 1896) 

November 19 is the anniversary of the birth of James A(bram) Garfield (1831-1881), 20th President of these United States, in Moreland Hills, Ohio. Born to a widowed farm wife, Garfield worked at a series of menial jobs but eventually attended Williams College, graduating in 1856. 

He entered politics as a Republican and served in the Ohio State Senate until the outbreak of the Civil War, in which he saw combat as a Union major general. In 1862 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and served in that body until 1880, after 1876 as Republican Leader of the House. 

Noted as a skilled orator, Garfield supported the more radical aspects of Reconstruction, but later moderated his views and became known for his strong support in Congress for the gold standard and free trade. He narrowly escaped involvement in the Crédit Mobilier scandal of 1872, but his stature was such that the Republican party nominated him in 1880 as a compromise candidate for the Presidency, which he won handily. His four-month administration, characterized by party squabbles over federal jobs and political patronage, was cut short by his fatal wounding by a disappointed office-seeker in Washington in July 1881:

On July 2, 1881, at 9:20 a.m., James A. Garfield was shot in the back as he walked with Secretary of State Blaine in Washington's Baltimore and Potomac train station. The proud President was preparing to leave for Williams College—he planned to introduce his two sons to his alma mater. The shots came from a .44 British Bulldog, which the assassin, Charles J. Guiteau, had purchased specifically because he thought it would look impressive in a museum. Garfield's doctors were unable to remove the bullet, which was lodged in the President's pancreas. On September 19, 1881, the President died of blood poisoning and complications from the shooting in his hospital rooms at Elberon, a village on the New Jersey shore, where his wife lay ill with malaria.
The shot in the back was not fatal, not hitting any vital organs. The bullet lodged behind the pancreas.
"If they had just left him alone he almost certainly would have survived," Millard said. Within minutes, doctors converged on the fallen president, using their fingers to poke and prod his open wounds. "Twelve different doctors inserted unsterilized fingers and instruments in Garfield's back probing for this bullet," Millard recounted, "and the first examination took place on the train station floor. I mean, you can't imagine a more germ-infested environment." 
He died two and a half months later and was succeeded in office by Vice-President Chester A. Arthur. 

* N.B. Ironically, President McKinley was the next president to be assassinated - in September 1901. 

A brief documentary:

The Gettysburg Address was delivered on November 19, 1863: history, photos, videos and more

Today is the anniversary of President Lincoln's delivery of his few "brief remarks" at the dedication of the new national cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (wiki), only four or so months after the great Civil War battle there that emerged as "the high-water mark of the Confederacy." 

One of the only two confirmed photos of Abraham
 Lincoln
 (sepia highlight) at Gettysburg, taken
about noon, just after Lincoln arrived and
some three hours before the speech.
To Lincoln's right is his bodyguard, 
Ward Hill Lamon
At the time, the final issue of the war was still in some doubt, and Lincoln received second billing to a lengthy speech by Dr. Edward Everett, then president of Harvard University and reputedly America's greatest orator. 

Everyone's familiar with the Gettysburg Address - didn't we all have to memorize it in grammar school? But in these troubled times, its mere 272 words remain well worth reading again. The full text is below.

By the way, Garry Wills' brilliant study Lincoln at Gettysburg analyzes the Gettysburg Address in terms of its role in defining the ethos of the United States for subsequent generations, while also tracing the antecedents of Lincoln's argument and the structure of his peerless prose back to Thucydides' account of Pericles' 430 B.C funeral oration at the end of the first year of the Peloponnesian War. (Wills notes that despite the popular view that Lincoln generally preferred short, pithy utterances, the final sentence of the Gettysburg Address is 84 words long - almost a third of the whole.)


Lincoln's speech, like Pericles', begins with an acknowledgment of revered predecessors: "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent..."; Lincoln, like Pericles, then praises the uniqueness of the State's commitment to democracy: "..a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal...government of the people, by the people, and for the people..."; Lincoln, like Pericles, addresses the difficulties faced by a speaker on such an occasion, "...we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground"; Lincoln, like Pericles, exhorts the survivors to emulate the deeds of the dead, "It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the great task remaining before us"; and finally, Lincoln, like Pericles, contrasts the efficacy of words and deeds, "The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract...The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here." It is uncertain to what degree Lincoln was directly influenced by Pericles' Funeral Oration.
Wills never claims that Lincoln drew on it as a source, though Edward Everett, who delivered a lengthy oration at the same ceremony at Gettysburg, began by describing the "Athenian example".
This 2014 article on Obama's recitation of the speech (the 150th anniversary) in which he left out the words "under God" is from WMAL. Excerpts:
WASHINGTON -- One nation under God? Under President Obama, maybe not so much.
Union soldiers dead at Gettysburg, July 1963
In advance of the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address (full text below), which President Abraham Lincoln delivered on November 19, 1863, filmmaker Ken Burns gathered every living President, along with several prominent members of Congress, celebrities and news media stars to deliver the address themselves. Burns edited the individual speeches into one final mashup that is available on the site, but he also provided the complete speech as delivered by each individual dignitary. 
Curiously enough, in his version of the speech, President Barack Obama's delivery contained an omission - in a line that every other celebrity delivered as "that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom" (click here for proof of that), the President left out the words "under God." 
You can watch all of the speeches at learntheaddress.org.

Gettysburg Address full text:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any other nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. 

We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here died that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. 

The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. 

~ Abraham Lincoln ("The Gettysburg Address," 19 November 1863)

Here's a brief documentary which includes most of the available photographs of Lincoln, some photos of battlefields, and several (non-photographic) illustrations from contemporaneous newspaper accounts. It also describes the historical context of the speech and Lincoln's feeling that it had been a failure:


An animated version of the speech:

Gettysburg Address from Adam Gault Studio on Vimeo.

This video is a series of photos from the morning after the battle, set to music:


At the Smithsonian, a Battle of Gettysburg Interactive Map.

Related: Paper prints retraction for 1863 article calling Gettysburg address "silly remarks"; retraction written in the style of Gettysburg Address (read the whole thing!):
Seven score and ten years ago, the forefathers of this media institution brought forth to its audience a judgment so flawed, so tainted by hubris, so lacking in the perspective history would bring, that it cannot remain unaddressed in our archives.
Mental Floss has an excellent post - Gettysburg: The Great Reunion of 1913.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Benjamin Franklin’s account of the First Thanksgiving


Instead of a Fast They Proclaimed a Thanksgiving Benjamin Franklin (1785)

There is a tradition that in the planting of New England, the first settlers met with many difficulties and hardships, as is generally the case when a civiliz’d people attempt to establish themselves in a wilderness country. Being so piously dispos’d, they sought relief from heaven by laying their wants and distresses before the Lord in frequent set days of fasting and prayer. Constant meditation and discourse on these subjects kept their minds gloomy and discontented, and like the children of Israel there were many dispos’d to return to the Egypt which persecution had induc’d them to abandon.

At length, when it was proposed in the Assembly to proclaim another fast, a farmer of plain sense rose and remark’d that the inconveniences they suffer’d, and concerning which they had so often weary’d heaven with their complaints, were not so great as they might have expected, and were diminishing every day as the colony strengthen’d; that the earth began to reward their labour and furnish liberally for their subsistence; that their seas and rivers were full of fish, the air sweet, the climate healthy, and above all, they were in the full enjoyment of liberty, civil and religious.

He therefore thought that reflecting and conversing on these subjects would be more comfortable and lead more to make them contented with their situation; and that it would be more becoming the gratitude they ow’d to the divine being, if instead of a fast they should proclaim a thanksgiving. His advice was taken, and from that day to this, they have in every year observ’d circumstances of public felicity sufficient to furnish employment for a Thanksgiving Day, which is therefore constantly ordered and religiously observed.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Early attempts to produce the flying car we were supposed to have by now


Hobbes: "A new decade is coming up."

Calvin: "You call this the future?? HA! Where are the rocket packs? Where are the disintegration rays? Where are the flying cars?"

~ Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes (wiki) December 30, 1989

Mark my word: a combination airplane and motorcar is coming. You may smile, but it will come. 

~ Henry Ford, 1940 

By 1953 motor-cars will be obsolete, because aeroplanes will run along the ground as well as fly over it.

~ Sir Philip Gibbs,  1928.

Instead of a car in every garage, there will be a "copter". These tiny "copters", when school lets out, will fill the sky as the bicycles of our youth filled the prewar roads.

~ Harry Bruno, 1943

Weren't we supposed to have flying cars (wiki) by now? Below are some early attempts:

Nov 1947:


A ConVair Car Model 118 flying car during a test flight. The hybrid vehicle was designed by Theodore P. Hall for the Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Company of San Diego, California, but never went into production. A test pilot had to make a crash landing after the vehicle unexpectedly ran out of fuel — he'd been reading from the car's fuel gauge, not the plane's. 
 April 1924:
A car with wings and a propeller protruding from the radiator grille drives through Times Square, New York. It was the invention of A.H. Russell of Nutley, New Jersey.
1928:

An aerocar, unconfirmed as being able to fly, which had a triple function: a combined car, airplane and boat.
Jan. 1946:

Ted Hall's NX59711. It had a top road speed of 60mph and flight speed of 110mph. Hall developed it as a design for paratroopers and commandos.
Lots more at Mashable, Daily Beast, and Smithsonian.