Oct 02

The End of History?

Nah. The government shutdown isn’t THAT bad. Nevertheless, I’m in no condition for 800-1,000 words of historically-themed snark tonight. John Boehner may not need no stinkin’ health care, but I certainly do.

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To wit, this bottle of store brand cold medicine will soon be history.

That’s right, children’s cold and cough. I have an eight-year-old daughter, and she’ll tell you I’m a big kid anyway. The active ingredients are the same, so what the hell, right?

So I’m being a big, sniffling wuss and bagging out on History Wednesday this time around. Sorry ’bout that. Larry over at History’s Dumpster always posts good stuff. Go check him out. Assuming the pathogens don’t completely take over around here, I’ll be back with a proper History Wednesday post next week.

Sep 25

History Wednesday: Going to the Lordy

If history teaches us nothing else, it teaches us the notion of “the good old days” is a myth and a sham. Need proof? Consider Charles Guiteau. He was a piece of work for the ages, one who put our contemporary wingnuts to shame.

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David Koresh had nothing on this guy.

Indeed, the 1881 series of events which led to Guiteau’s place in history look absolutely preposterous when viewed through the lenses of today. Yet there they are.

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Aug 28

History Wednesday: Brother, Can You Spare a Fishscale?

I love coins. How much you ask? Well, at one point in the late 80s I was the only Boy Scout in the entire Snake River Area Council to hold the Coin Collecting merit badge.

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We’re talking a special order item here.
Image credit: MeritBadge.org

That said, in today’s cashless society, coins – especially smaller denominations – are becoming increasingly obsolete. At this point they’re often produced at a loss to the taxpayer, in no small part because no one wants to piss off the zinc lobby.

Of course, obsolete coins are nothing new. We’ve had plenty of others in the past.

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Aug 21

History Wednesday: Bursts of Color

Remember Beanie Babies? You know, those stuffed animals that were hot for a couple minutes back in the 1990s before their bubble of “all new materials” burst? They had names such as “Saddle the Horse,” “Leftovers the Turkey” and “Quebec Iris Versicolor the Bear.”

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Wait, what?
Image credit: BBToyStore.com

Remember them? Good! Because today’s History Wednesday isn’t about them.

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Aug 14

History Wednesday: Revolution, Eh?

Ever wonder how the American Revolution created Canada?

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No, seriously.

Well, as it turns out the Continental Army was at least as interested in Canada as it was in its own jurisdictions, at least at first. That had some far-reaching consequences. So let’s take a look, eh? Beauty!

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Aug 07

History Wednesday: Some More Healthy Eating

S’mores are awesome. I would have definitely eaten more of them as a kid had I not despised camping so much.

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Did I grow up in the wrong state, or what?
Image credit: CorrieRosetti

Still, there’s plenty of history in that three-ingredient delicacy. Like most things, a good portion of that history is a bit off.

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Jul 31

History Wednesday: Three Short Reigns

A while back I wrote about the shortest presidency in history. Today I was going to write about one of the shortest monarchies in history, but I’m afraid I have to wuss out a bit. See, I’m sick as a dog. Frankly I’m not entirely sure why I’m even trying to write today in the first place.

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Perhaps as an attempt to take my mind off things.

So in lieu of the History Wednesday post you’ve come to expect, bear with me as I share quick stories of three of the shortest-reigning monarchs of all time.

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Jul 24

History Wednesday: That Sinking Feeling

Believe it or not, there was a time when using the terms “Sweden” and “aggressive military power” in the same sentence didn’t sound inherently silly.

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The Swedes having long since embraced more civilized ways to irritate the rest of the world.
Image credit: RetroLand U.S.A.

For most of the 17th Century Sweden was one of Europe’s major players. They pulled it off with inspired leadership and military might. They also did it in spite of one of the truly epic fails in all of maritime history.

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Jul 17

History Wednesday: The Pioneering Dictator

Latin America is well-known for its history of military strongmen, caudillos and other dictators. That may be the most obvious thing I’ve said all day. Yet it had to start somewhere.

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Specifically, here.

Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, also known as “El Supremo,” ruled Paraguay with an iron fist nearly a century before the rise of the so-called “banana republics.” His methods were brutal, and his motivations were often … shall we say, odd.

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Jul 10

History Wednesday: French Fried

Ah, the French. Famous for food and wine. Much maligned for military prowess.

Not that it mattered to Orson Welles, apparently on either count.

In terms of the latter, one could argue the French get a bad rap. After all, this is the country directly descended from the Gaul of Vercingetorix and the Frankish Kingdom of Charlemagne. No one would have accused the French of being wusses in 1812. Back then the guy in charge out in Paris was named Napoleon. Perhaps you’ve heard of him.

Still, more recently the French have been the victims of some pretty bad military leadership. That’s probably where the reputation comes from. The following is a prime example.

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