Saturday, July 11

History has Been Canceled Until Further Notice

By Grant Davies

On this day in 2020, give or take a few weeks, a small but well organized group of thugs tried to erase all the history of the US.

A majority of the citizens of the country and many of the politicians and elected officials of the country did nothing to stop them. Some even encouraged them.

In the end history will survive even if it's incorrect history. Since most history is incorrect anyway most people will not notice this in a few years.

Even though the history found on this site is probably correct, those thugs have been thus far uninterested in erasing it. I guess they realize that I have several readers instead of millions.

But mainly they were too busy looting and burning to pay attention to it. And many are illiterate so they don't bother if it's like, um, you know, words and stuff. Unless it's a statue of a person they never heard of they just can't be bothered.

But this site is all about having some fun anyway, not portraying serious events like the erasure of history.

I just wonder, are we having fun yet?

Sunday, January 26

Give That Man a Prize

Image = Wikipedia

By Grant Davies

On a day just like this, back about fifty years after the 1880s, perhaps circa 1930-ish, a professor at the University of Lisbon decided to do some science.

Before we move on to the actual story, I think it's best to explain how such a precisely imprecise date was arrived upon. I used a calculator. And I guessed at the figures. The 1880s had some meaning for where to start counting, but I'm probably not going to tell you why, just because.

But who cares anyway? It's not actual history, it's Cheeky History. Exact dates require research I'm loath to do.

Anyway, the guy's name was Egas Moniz and he was a scientist, kind of. A former politician, (a republican, lower case) he was a professor of neurology at the above named University. He formed a hypothesis about where in the brain mental illnesses of various kinds originated and how to treat them. Based on the work of others back in the 1880s he decided it was in the frontal lobe of the brain. (Okay, I guess I slipped and told you about the 1880s part, darn it!) So he decided to see if destroying that part of the brain would cure these illnesses. They called the surgical procedure leucotomy. We know it today by a different name. More on that later.

Unfortunately, his scientific method was anything but scientific. According to Bill Bryson in his new book "The Body" (paraphrased), Moniz had no idea what the outcome might be or what damage might be done to the patient. No experiments were done on animals first and he was pretty careless about which patients he chose. (At least one died in an earlier attempt.) He also didn't follow-up well on what the outcomes were. Additionally, he didn't perform the surgeries himself but was keen to take credit for any that were claimed to be successful.

When scientists do science poorly the outcome usually is apparent to scientists who do science well. That can lead to derision and a loss of stature, not to mention income. But that didn't happen to Egas.

Instead, in 1949, he was awarded, (you guessed it) the Nobel Prize. It was for "his discovery of the therapeutic value of leucotomy in certain psychoses." (Wikipedia)

In other words, some of his patients improved a bit on the mental illness they had. Unfortunately they turned into zombies. Perhaps if he had hit them in the head with a shovel it might have had the same effect. (I'm told that leaves a dull impression on the mind) At least he didn't do that.

I don't want to be too hard on him considering the times he lived in. But if he can get a Nobel Prize for crummy science why can't I get a Pulitzer Prize for crummy writing?

To celebrate all the crazy surgeries performed by the others who followed in his lab coats, just slip on down to the "Weird Science Lounge" and when the bartender asks "what'll you have?"  Just tell him, "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."

Inspiration for this story came from Bill Bryson's excellent book, "The Body" - "A Guide for Occupants" 

Wednesday, December 5

Krampus Claus is Coming to Town

By Grant Davies

 On this day, December 6th eve, every year,  Krampus Claus is coming to a town near yours. So you better watch out.

Or as the song has it:

"You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I'm telling you why

Krampus Claus is coming to town."

Okay, there is no guy called that. I gave Krampus a last name because I wanted to. I write this nonsense, so I can do as I please.

Anyway, Krampus is a real make believe guy. As real as Santa Claus anyway. And he even has a day (okay, a night) named for him. It's called Krampusnacht.  For those of you who failed German class in high school, that translates to Krampus Night.

That's the night this half-goat, half-demon sneaks into town and beats children to a pulp if he determines they have been bad. Or not good, I guess.  Or if they cry or pout. He also seems to lick their head and clean the wax from their ears with his fingers, according to the picture below. And he does this while in chains, so he's pretty competent.

I'll take the beating, thank you.  But that's just me.

What all this tells us is that if the worst thing that happens to you is that you find coal in your stocking or don't get that new I-Phone you have been wanting, just count yourself lucky.

One other thing, I'm pretty sure that if you don't live in Europe somewhere, this doesn't apply to you.

Happy holidays.


We have a new winner of the coveted "15 Seconds of Fame Award." 

It's Matthew Latourette, who gave me the idea to write this post.  He recently was mentioned in the Chicago Tribune by name as well, so he's on a roll. Congrats!
Okay, your time is up.

Monday, May 28

The Amazing Talent of Bob Evans

Bob Evans - Supernovae finder extraordinaire
By Grant Davies

Some people have amazing talents that most of us could never image. Bob Evans is one of those people.

I love sausage. And lots of sausage lovers have heard of Bob Evans in regard to making tasty breakfast sausage. But that's not the same Bob as the Bob in today's story.

Our Bob is a retired Minister. He is semi-famous in some circles in Australia for doing serious research and writing books about the history of evangelical revivals.

Even though this is a history blog (kinda), we don't usually write about historical stuff quite that exciting here. Bob's talent for that endeavor is not the one I'm about to amaze you with.

Bob's hobby is finding Supernovae, and he's really, really good at it. Better than anyone else who has ever tried it, so they say. He finds them by looking through backyard telescopes from the small deck of his house in a town not far outside of Sydney, Australia. Other than his telescope his only other tool seems to be his amazing talent for remembering where all those dots in the sky are and noticing when a new dot appears where there wasn't one before. Just in case you aren't as amazed as I am about Bob's amazing memory of where the dots were,  I'll explain.

According to Bill Bryson in his book "A Short History of Nearly Everything" it's explained this way:

(Paraphrased) "imagine a standard dining room table covered with a black tablecloth and someone throwing a handful of salt across it. Think of the salt grains as a galaxy. Now, imagine 1500 more tables like that, each table with random salt tosses, enough to fill the parking lot at Walmart. Now add one grain of salt to any table and let Bob walk among them. At a glance he will spot it."

Now that is amazing! I betcha you can't do that. I can't even remember if I had Bob Evans sausage for breakfast.

To celebrate Bob's amazing talent, drop down to the Star Gazers Lounge and have the Super-duper Supernova Martini. But if you see Bob there and you introduce yourself, don't expect him to remember your name if you meet him again. He says he's not very good at remembering names and his wife says he can't remember where he's put things.


Wednesday, June 7

Save the Endangered Left-handed Snail Darter!

By Art Cashin

On this day (+1) in 1783, weeks of rumbling beneath Mt. Skaptar, a volcano in southern Iceland, ended with a roar. And what a roar it was. Across a line of over 10 miles, the earth split as in an earthquake in a movie. But instead of leaving a small canyon or valley, the rift in the earth poured forth massive amounts of molten lava and hazy blue gases.

Over the next two months, it spewed out enough molten stuff to cover the entire island of Manhattan with a lava cover a mile high. Looking for a place to go, the lava filled up riverbeds, harbors, seabeds and it melted centuries- old glaciers. Thousands of people were either burned to death by the lava or drowned in the floods it caused. The lava alone would have caused this to be rated one of history's great calamities. But then there was the haze.
The heavy, blue, sulfur-smelling haze spewed forth from the fissure and hung like a low cloud that grew and grew until it spread from Iceland southward to Gibraltar. And it hung there. And as it did, there were reports of cattle dying in the field because their flesh had begun to eat them alive. (Now where did I hear that before?) Some humans had a similar experience. Many more developed sudden open sores, sudden loss of hair and bleeding gums, finally dying in the streets.

Then things started to get bad. Leaves fell off the trees and plants. Birds, rabbits and other wildlife began to die, often rotting as they fell. Then the fish began to die, rising to the surface, often partially decomposed. (I hope you're not reading this at breakfast.) Now there was no food and those remaining people and animals began to starve. Thankfully, the winds began to shift, the volcano began to still and the dying began to stop....finally!

To mark the day, sympathize with someone from the "Save the Endangered Left-handed Snail Darter Club" and hoist a spring water and something natural, while you note the latest study implies it must be man that upsets nature's gentle balance.

Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.

Saturday, March 11

A Killer Health Care Plan

Editors foreword:

Now that the astute and well intentioned politicians are putting their heads together to fix the failed Obamacare plan by instituting a different horrible plan that is destined to fail as well, I thought it might be time for a history review to remind us what happens when astute and well intentioned politicians from the past put their heads together to fix a health care problem.

But don't worry, politicians never make the same mistakes twice on the same problem. Even though the problem may be the same one, too many rats.

Grant Davies

Image result for black death rats By Art Cashin

On this day in 1349, in the midst of the infamous Black Plague epidemic, the forces of government, science and academia came together with a plan to save the people.

As you recall from earlier episodes, the Black Plague had spread from the eastern Mediterranean throughout most of Europe killing millions over the preceding three years. People searched everywhere for the source of the plague.....a heavenly curse; a burden of immigrants; the result of spices in the food. It was tough to figure however, since whenever they held a conference either the host area caught the plague or the visitors too many conferences.

Then in the six months preceding this date the death rate leveled off.....or seemed to. So in castles and universities and town halls across Europe, great minds pondered the cause of the plague. And they came pretty close. The collective governmental/academic wisdom was that the source of the Black Plague was fleas - (absolutely correct).

So the word went out from town to town across Europe - to stop the plague - kill the fleas -by killing all the dogs. And immediately the slaughter of all dogs began. But like lots of well-intentioned governmental/academic ideas it was somewhat wide of the mark...and had unexpected consequences.

The cause was fleas alright but not dog was rat fleas. And in the 1300's what was the most effective way to hold down the rat guessed it - dogs. So by suggesting that townsfolk kill their dogs, the wise authorities had unwittingly allowed the rat population to flourish and thus a new vicious rash of Black Plague began. Before it was over, three years later, nearly 1 out of 3 people in the world had died of the plague.

To mark this eventful period, take time to review your public servant’s plans for your welfare. Whether taxes or healthcare, they'll work night and day for a solution. It may not be as efficient as the way that they handled social security but - what is? Just remember that these public servants have your best interests at heart. Don't dwell on the DARK AGES. Back in those days the seat of government often was filled with rats, vermin and leeches. Thank goodness those days are over.

Many thanks to Mr. Cashin and UBS Financial Services who graciously allow his historical musings to be republished on this site. To enjoy more of Art's posts simply click on "Cashin's Comments" in the label section on the sidebar.

Wednesday, November 30

History, Music, and Redemption

By Grant Davies

On this day in 2011, I wrote a short commentary as a lead in to a video and posted it to my sister blog What We Think and Why. That blog isn't about history but this blog didn't exist back then. Just about every year since then it pops up on my FaceBook feed again. I always feel compelled to share it again.

Today, on the 5th anniversary of posting it, I will add it to this site because it is about history even though it's not too "cheeky."

Some of you have seen it before. Most of you haven't. If you have, you will probably enjoy watching it again. If not, you are about to learn something about History, Music, and Redemption that you might not have known. I present it here unedited. I hope you enjoy watching the video as much as I enjoy posting it.

History, Music and Redemption

Whether it's good ideas, interesting writing, witty humor, important information or videos which deliver some or all of those things, a great blog post is made from great content. On this site I do my best to deliver those things. Sometimes I even succeed.

I write about and post things that I see, hear or just think about. Things I think are important. Many of them concern ideas about freedom or people and events that somehow connect to freedom issues. Some might say this is a political site, but even though it's hard to escape from politics in these times of tumult, I hope it's more than that.

History is one of my loves. So is music. And like so many others, I'm fascinated by the battle between good and evil. So when all three of those things come together in one place, it's impossible to resist sharing them.

One of my favorite musical pieces is the hymn, Amazing Grace. And the history behind it's creation is an incredible story of good, evil and redemption. It's a story I only learned a few years back, long after I fell in love with the melody and power of the song.

The story of John Newton, who wrote the words, is as inspirational as they come. If you don't know the history, do yourself a favor and follow the link, you won't regret it. His fall from grace and final return to receive it again is classic. But as it now turns out, (and as is often the case) I only knew half the story.

The other half of the story concerns Negro Spirituals, the black keys on the piano, the "slave scales" and the writer of the music itself. Someone known only as "Unknown." I will never listen to the hymn the same way again. For me, it used to be special, now it is delicious.

After watching the video below, I can almost feel the pain and suffering of the groaning victims of slavery and the different kind of pain and ultimate redemption of one of those who perpetrated it upon them.

If you feel it too, then this will be better than the usual post on this blog. I hope it will be a great post because of the great content.

Many thanks to Bobbie Rendleman for posting the video link on Facebook.

Many thanks to Bobbie Rendleman for posting the video link on Facebook.

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