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Friday, July 12, 2019

Betamax Salesman Training Video 1977

A real trip down memory lane (if you're old enough)...

via metafilter

Friday links

July 14 is Bastille Day, the anniversary of the French revolution in 1789.

That Time When America Air-Dropped Pianos For Troops in Battlefields.

Julius Caesar came. He saw. He conquered. Here's how Rome celebrated.

ICYMI, most recent links are here, and include why monkey butts are so colorful, Nikola Tesla's birthday, how to buy your kid's way into college, and the 47 names Disney considered for the 7 dwarfs.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

July 14 is Bastille Day

If you're here for Jonah Goldberg's classic article on the subject, here you go: The French are Revolting.
 Allons enfants de la Patrie,                   Arise you children of the motherland,
 Le jour de gloire est arrivé!                    The day of glory has arrived!
 Contre nous de la tyrannie,                   Against us, tyranny
 L'étendard sanglant est levé,                 Has raised its bloodied banner,
 Entendez-vous dans les campagnes      Do you hear, in the fields,
 Mugir ces féroces soldats?                   The howling of these fearsome soldiers?
 Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras          They are coming into your midst
 Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes!          To slit the throats of your sons and consorts!

Refrain                                                Chorus
 Aux armes, citoyens,                            To arms, citizens!
 Formez vos bataillons,                          Form your battalions!
 Marchons, marchons!                            Let us march, let us march!
 Qu'un sang impur                                  May impure blood
 Abreuve nos sillons!                              Soak the furrows of our fields!

~ Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle (1760-1836) ("La Marseillaise", first verse. Six more follow, all more or less equally bloodthirsty. *
The Storming of the Bastille by Jean-Pierre Houël
France has neither winter nor summer nor morals - apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country. 

~ Mark Twain (1835-1910) (Anderson, ed., Mark Twain's Notebooks and Journals, Vol. 2, Notebook 18)

Old France , weighed down with history, prostrated by wars and revolutions, endlessly vacillating from greatness to decline, but revived, century after century, by the genius of renewal.

~ Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970) (War Memoirs, Vol. 3, Ch. 7)

The Bastille was later demolished - the Place de la Bastille
 sits where the fortress once stood
July 14th is Bastille Day (wiki), which commemorates the storming of the ancient royal prison of that name in Paris on 14 July 1789, an event which marked the beginning of the French Revolution. That storming was, of course, more symbolic than substantial - as Jonah Goldberg points out in his classic Bastille Day column, it consisted of "the capture of an almost entirely empty prison, the cold-blooded murder of six unarmed soldiers, and the execution of one French governor already captured by the mob". On that day the Bastille held only seven inmates: four forgers, two madmen, and a young rake who had displeased his father. All were freed.

The Marseillais volunteers departing, sculpted on the Arc de Triomphe
Formally known as the Bastille Saint-Antoine, the fortress was built during the Hundred Years’ War to defend the eastern approaches of Paris from English attacks. It Consisted of eight 100-foot high towers, all linked together by equally tall walls, surrounded by 80 foot wide moat. By 1789 the Bastille was actually little used and was scheduled to be demolished, part of the reason why there were so few prisoners there that day.

*La Marseillaise, France's stirring national anthem, was written in Strasbourg on 25 April 1792 by French captain Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle and originally titled the "Marching Song of the Army of the Rhine." It gained instant popularity as a rallying song and gained its latter-day name from being first sung in the streets of Paris by newly arrived troops from Marseilles. The remaining verses are available at Wikipedia

La Marseillaise was banned in both Vichy and German-occupied France during World War II, and also during the 19th-century French Empire under Napoleon III because of its revolutionary sentiments.  

Has there every been a more stirring rendition than the one at Rick's "Café Americaine" in Casablanca?

Related post: French King Louis XVI was guillotined on January 21, 1793. Here's Allan Sherman (because if you're of a certain age it's inevitable to think of Allan Sherman when you hear La Marseillaise:

Ed's London Guide

We get asked for this pretty often - it's a PDF scanned from an old typed copy so there's no easy way to convert to text without re-typing. I may do that one of these days.

He put this together in 1992, but since most of your trip to London will involve historical sites and museums, it's still pretty applicable.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Tuesday links

July 9 is Nikola Tesla's birthday: bio, some science and engineering, Tesla coil music, Tesla vs Edison rap battle. a conservative at my small, Minnesota-based liberal arts institution, I’ve spent the last four years defending myself against personal and political attacks from professors and peers alike. 
Raising the American Weakling - there's been a 20 percent decrease in grip strength in one generation.

The 47 names Disney considered for the 7 dwarfs.

ICYMI, most recent links are here, and are Independence Day related - history, movies, music, inspirational speeches, the science of barbecue and of fireworks, more.

Monday, July 8, 2019

The 47 names Disney considered for the 7 dwarfs

In the 1930s, as Disney began work on the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (an adaptation of Snow White by the Brothers Grimm), the writing team compiled the following list of potential names for the seven dwarfs - characters who, in the original story, were unnamed.

As we now know, Bashful, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, and Sneezy were picked. The name of their leader, Doc, was chosen at a later date, although I don't see Happy on this list, either.

By the way, in 1912 the story had been adapted for the Broadway stage, and the names chosen for the dwarfs were Blick, Flick, Glick, Snick, Plick, Whick, and Quee.

Here's the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Original Theatrical Trailer from 1937:

And here are the options they compiled (What the heck is Neurtsy? And why leave off Sleazy and Smutty?):
  1. Awful
  2. Baldy
  3. Bashful
  4. Biggo-Ego
  5. Burpy
  6. Daffy
  7. Deafy
  8. Dippy
  9. Dirty
  10. Dizzy
  11. Doleful
  12. Dopey
  13. Dumpy
  14. Flabby
  15. Gabby
  16. Grumpy
  17. Hickey
  18. Hoppy
  19. Hotsy
  20. Hungry
  21. Jaunty
  22. Jumpy
  23. Lazy
  24. Neurtsy
  25. Nifty
  26. Puffy
  27. Sappy
  28. Scrappy
  29. Shifty
  30. Shorty
  31. Silly
  32. Sleepy
  33. Snappy
  34. Sneezy
  35. Sneezy-Wheezy
  36. Sniffy
  37. Snoopy
  38. Soulful
  39. Strutty
  40. Stuffy
  41. Swift
  42. Tearful
  43. Thrifty
  44. Weepy
  45. Wheezy
  46. Wistful
  47. Woeful

Sunday, July 7, 2019

July 9 is Nikola Tesla's birthday: bio, Tesla coil music, Tesla vs Edison rap battle

Want a quick explanation of everything Tesla? Check out this infographic at The Oatmeal.

Epic Rap Battles of History — Nikola Tesla vs Thomas Edison:

The video below is based on stories about Tesla's lost papers and documents, about how the government secreted them away somewhere: The Missing Secrets Of Nikola Tesla from The Phenomenon Archives (described as "A documentary series that takes an in-depth look at the topics found in recently de-classified government documents. It explores well-known issues with new information that has been sequestered from the public"):

Wardenclyffe, Tesla's Long Island estate, was originally intended to be “a vector for trans-Atlantic wireless communications, broadcasting, and wireless power. The site consisted of an (incomplete) 18-story-high transmission tower that topped off a laboratory surrounded by 16 acres of land in Shoreham, Long Island in 1903. 

By 1917, Tesla had sold the site for $20,000 to pay bills at the Waldorf. That same year, the transmission tower was blown up by the buyers and sold for scrap. 

In 2013 it was purchased by a non-profit for the purpose of building a Tesla museum, with the help a fund-raining effort from The OatmealHere's an NPR story on the purchase. More on Wardenclyffe and the likely methods employed in its operation here.

A brief bio:

July 9 is the anniversary of the birth of Serbian-American electrical-engineering genius and futurist Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) (wiki), to a Serbian-Orthodox priest in Croatia. Tesla displayed remarkable intuition for mechanical and electrical phenomena while still a youth, and although he studied physics sporadically in Graz and Prague, he was largely self-taught in scientific and engineering subjects. 

In 1881. he began working at the Budapest Telephone Exchange as a technician, but within a year he transferred to an Edison subsidiary in France, designing electrical equipment. Two years later, he relocated to New York City, where he worked directly for Thomas Edison but resigned several years later in a dispute over pay. 

Subsequently, Tesla moved out on his own, eventually forming a company to commercialize his own inventions for the improvement of electric motors and generators operating largely on alternating current (vice Edison's direct current). Most importantly, he invented the concept of polyphase alternating-current power systems and the AC induction motor, which used a rotating magnetic field to propel the rotor. 

In 1888, Tesla licensed his patents to George Westinghouse, who used them to devise alternating-current alternatives to Edison's DC systems for generating and distributing electrical power, and eventually alternating current prevailed as the national standard.* 

In 1891, Tesla became an American citizen and established his own laboratory in New York City to work on a wide variety of electrical developments, including X-ray technology, radio, and high-voltage/high-frequency apparatus. Among the latter was the "Tesla coil," a device for developing extremely high voltages and creating spectacular displays of artificial lightning. 

In 1899, he moved his operations to Colorado Springs and concentrated on devising a system for the wireless transmission of electrical power through the atmosphere (but never realized it at a practical level). He also developed concepts for vertical takeoff/landing aircraft, remote controlled vehicles, and an early directed energy weapon. He ultimately received nearly 300 patents for his discoveries. 

Since Tesla had sold his most lucrative patents to Westinghouse and plowed what money he earned later into further experimentation, he died in relative poverty in 1943. Although vastly overshadowed by Edison in the popular imagination, it was Tesla who was primarily responsible for the concepts underlying the electrical power grids used world-wide today.

Alternating Current (AC) vs. Direct Current (DC)
*The great advantage of alternating over direct current in power distribution is that the former can make use of transformers to step the voltage up and down, and high voltage is much more efficient for sending electrical power over long distances.