Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Final Column...!

Now here is a piece from a newspaper that is really worth reading.

After 49 years as a journalist, Charlie Reese is retiring. His last column is well worth the read, in my opinion. See what you think.

This is about as clear and easy to understand as it can be. The article below is completely neutral, neither anti-republican nor democrat. Charlie Reese, a retired reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, has hit the nail directly on the head, defining clearly who it is that in the final analysis must assume responsibility for the judgments made that impact each one of us every day.

It's a relatively short but good read. Worth the time. Worth remembering!

545 vs. 300,000,000 People- by Charlie Reese

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don't propose a federal budget. The President does.

You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations.The House of Representatives does.

You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash.

The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes.

Who is the speaker of the House now? He is the leader of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red.

If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it's because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan ... If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way.

 There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power.

Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation," or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible. They, and they alone, have the power. They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses, provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees...We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

What you do with this article now that you have read it... is up to you.

This might be funny if it weren't so true.

Be sure to read all the way to the end:
Tax his land,
Tax his bed,
Tax the table, at which he's fed.
Tax his tractor,
Tax his mule,
Teach him taxes are the rule.
Tax his work,
Tax his pay,
he works for peanuts anyway!
Tax his cow,
Tax his goat,
Tax his pants,
Tax his coat.
Tax his ties,
Tax his shirt,
Tax his work,
Tax his dirt.
Tax his tobacco,
Tax his drink,
Tax him if he tries to think.
Tax his cigars,
Tax his beers,
If he cries tax his tears.
Tax his car,
Tax his gas,
Find other ways to tax his ass.
Tax all he has, then let him know
that you won't be done till he has no dough.
When he screams and hollers;
then tax him some more,
tax him till he's good and sore.
Then tax his coffin,
Tax his grave,
Tax the sod into which he's laid...
Put these words upon his tomb,
"Taxes drove me to my doom..."
When he's gone, do not relax,
it’s time to apply, the Inheritance tax.
Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL license Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Excise Taxes
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax (currently 44.75 cents per gallon)
Gross Receipts Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Taxes
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Personal Property Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service Charge Tax
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax
Recreational Vehicle Tax
Sales Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Nonrecurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Taxes
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax


 Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago, & our nation was the most prosperous in the world. We had absolutely no national debt, had the largest middle class in the world, and Mom, if agreed, stayed home to raise the kids. What in the heck happened?

Can you spell 'politicians?'

Sort of boggles the mind, doesn't it?

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Whisky And Watching Cannibals...!

Sometimes when folks have a bit too much money, they do strange things. Take Jameson, for instance.

The Jameson Whiskey Heir Who Paid To Watch Cannibals

Photo credit: Modern Notion

James Jameson, who was heir to the Jameson Irish whiskey empire, was also an explorer. In one 1887 incident recorded by famed adventurer Henry Stanley, Jameson was in Ribakiba meeting Arab slave trader Tippu Tip when he expressed interest in watching cannibals.

For the price of just six handkerchiefs, he purchased a 10-year-old girl who was taken to a known cannibal village and given to the tribe. Jameson documented their process and even drew sketches, later filling them in with watercolors and showing them to the tribal chiefs.
At first, Stanley expressed skepticism. But after speaking to Jameson’s translator, he concluded that it was the truth.

I can't imagine someone actually wanting to watch this. Maybe he had a touch of his own product before hand, ya reckon?

Coffee out on the patio today. Sorry, I have to leave to go to the V.A., so help yourself!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Strange Rain For Monday Mystery...!

We've had a case study about strange rain before, when seed pods fell from the sky. This one is even stranger that that, I believe!

Strange Rain

Photo credit: SWNS via The Daily Telegraph

England is known for rain, but not the sort that touched down on Berkeley, Gloucestershire, in August 2012. A tornado in Clevedon Beach, Somerset, caused seaweed to fill the sky and scatter all the way to Berkeley. Almost a year later, another heavy rainstorm dropped algae onto gardens and driveways in Berkeley.

Many observers were genuinely confused by the mechanics of lifting algae all the way from Somerset to Gloucestershire. As it stands today, the most common explanation is that an updraft from the storm lifted ocean water from Somerset that contained both seaweed and algae and transplanted it all the way to Gloucestershire. That being said, a solid answer hasn’t been produced as to why residents would still find some of these marine items a whole year later after yet another rainstorm.

I only have a couple of questions. What could cause this...and what the heck is going on with the rains in England?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning, because the rain is still showing up!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Morning Cartoons...!

In keeping with tradition, we are watching some Sunday 'toons. Hope you are ready...

And one more...

I really like the last one. I've always been a sucker for classical music!

Coffee out on the patio this morning...OK?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Strange British Forest...!

Some places just seem to fire up the imagination, if you know what I mean. This forest is one of them.

Looking at this place brings to mind elves, ghost, all sorts of creatures that are supposed to dwell in forest like this.

Hellhound’s Heaven

Photo credit: Alamy via The Guardian

Tucked away in Dartmoor’s Wistman’s Wood, this supposedly haunted forest in Devon contains hundreds of twisted trees and moss-covered stones. A common story involving Hellhound’s Heaven concerns a hooded figure in dark robes that walks with a pack of hellhounds. If any human dares to enter the forest, the spectral man threatens to steal their soul.

Besides the ghost of Hellhound’s Heaven, Dartmoor is awash in eerie legends. From the feline Beast of Dartmoor to the relatively new “Demon” of Dartmoor, Devonshire may be the heart of supernatural England. No wonder Sir Arthur Conan Doyle decided to set his spookiest Sherlock Holmes story, “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” in Dartmoor.

As for Hellhound’s Heaven, rational minds believe that the forest’s sinister reputation is based on the fact that Wistman’s Wood was allowed to grow wild, thereby making the area dense in vegetation. Others believe that the many ghosts are due to the fact that Dartmoor was once roamed by druids and other pre-Christian peoples who actively engaged in pagan rituals.

It's funny how a place like this can be so beautiful and spooky at the same time, ya know? I know I wouldn't want to get lost there at night!

Coffee out on the wet patio this morning

Friday, August 26, 2016

No Post...!

I'm taking the day off. Hope that's OK with everyone! See ya on the flip side!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Dangerous Potty Break...!

Heard the old saying "when in Rome..." before? I'm sure we all have.

It turns out that not everything that was early Roman was cool.One place that probably could have used some improvement was a few of the public toilets.


Photo credit: The Atlantic

We’ve all walked into a neglected gas station bathroom and found ourselves estimating how much longer we could hold it without doing permanent damage, but that fluorescent horror show’s got nothing on the latrines of old. The toilets of ancient Rome were a true test of one’s fecal fortitude, consisting of a stone bench with a rough hole leading to the city’s primitive sewer system. This direct connection meant all manner of vile critters could sink their teeth into the exposed buttocks of an unfortunate bathroom visitor. Worse yet, the methane buildup meant that it was not uncommon for toilets to spontaneously erupt into flame.

To quell this embarrassing epidemic, Romans would scribble images of Fortuna, the goddess of luck, and incantations meant to ward off evil spirits on bathroom walls. Believing laughter also repelled these demons, caricatures of religious figures were used as well, beginning the noble tradition of inappropriate bathroom stall graffiti.

Come to thin of it, some of the early outhouses (or Thunder boxes) were not that far removed from the Roman days, I reckon.

Coffee out on the patio this morning, OK?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Proof Of The Legend For Western Wednesday...!

In this day of electronic marvels, we forget that it hasn't been that long ago that photography was something new and exciting. This story is about a first in the history of the early west and in photography.

Elusive Mount of the Holy Cross photographed

William Henry Jackson becomes the first person to photograph Colorado’s elusive Mount of the Holy Cross, providing reliable proof of its existence.

Rumors had abounded for years that a natural cross of snow lay hidden high in the rugged mountains of Colorado. Many claimed to have seen the cross, but others were unable to find it. In August 1873, the photographer William Henry Jackson set out to prove its existence by taking a picture of it. Jackson was an experienced wilderness photographer who had accompanied wagon trains to California in 1866 and was employed as expedition photographer on Ferdinand Hayden’s survey of the Yellowstone region in 1871. Published in popular mass-circulation magazines like Harper’s Weekly, his images became immensely popular and showed Americans a rugged western wilderness that most would never see firsthand.

Jackson had heard rumors of the extraordinary cross of snow that occasionally appeared on the face of a high mountain peak. Jackson led a small party to the supposed site in north central Colorado in the summer of 1873. Jackson found the cross, though there was nothing miraculous about its cause. After thousands of years of erosion, two deep ravines had formed in the steep rocky face of a mountain peak. Intersecting at a 90-degree angle, the ravines sheltered the winter snow from the sun well after the rest of the mountain snow had melted away. For a brief time, a nearly perfect cross of snow appeared on the rock face, though it often melted away later in the summer.

In the pre-dawn hours of this day in 1873, Jackson prepared the heavy camera equipment he had carried up the mountain opposite the cross. He took his photos of the cross just as the first rays of the sun angled low across the crevassed face, emphasizing the lines of the cross. The best of the resulting photos became one of Jackson’s most popular and famous images, and it ended any further doubts about the existence of the Mount of the Holy Cross.

Imagine what a sight that must have been and what a stir the picture must have caused when seen for the first time. Amazing!

Coffee out on the patio this morning.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Consider The Lowly Banana...!

The banana is considered the most devoured fruit in the world, which is not surprising to me.

One of the first pieces of fruit given to a child, it seems to be a favorite of people all over the world. When you read this article from Listverse, you may find out some little known facts about this wonderful snack.


It seems like bananas were practically designed for us primates: They’re soft, seedless, tailor-made for the grip of our hand, and even come with a tab for easy opening. In reality, wild-type bananas are mostly inedible, and the plantains we eat today are completely different after genetic modifications. Wild-type bananas, which are tiny, tough, and filled with pit-like seeds, sometimes produce mutant variants without seeds.

Humans have been playing with this specific mutation for at least 6,500 years to produce all the varieties of seedless bananas available today. The banana’s design might even be too popular at this point; today’s mass-produced bananas are considered too genetically uniform, making them susceptible to diseases. Looks like we have some more work to do.

Personally I like bananas, especially in something like Banana Pudding. There's something about the flavor of a banana that is very satisfying to me. I really like the Banana Pudding Ice Cream by Blue Bell!

Coffee out on the patio this morning, if we can beat the rain!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Rack Man For Monday Mystery...!

I have something a little different for ya today. Something wet!

This one is sort of strange because of no one being able identify the body.

Rack Man

Photo credit: Adam J.W.C.

On August 11, 1994, fisherman Mark Peterson set out on his boat and moved slowly up the Hawkesbury River just north of Sydney. It was a lovely day, and Mark became excited he felt a heavy tug on his fishing net. It was sure to be a good haul of fish. But when he drew his net from the water, it contained a heavy piece of steel fashioned into a crucifix. Tied to it was the remains of a human body.

Shocked, Peterson immediately called the police, who examined the remains and confirmed they were human. A forensic pathologist noted that the remains were of a male between 21 and 41 and that the bones were anatomically arranged on the crucifix. The victim’s entire body and head was wrapped in plastic. In addition to the plastic, there was wire wrapped around the head and torso.

The man has yet to be identified, partly because his fingerprints had literally been eroded by the water. He was given the nickname Rack Man. Police are still working on several leads, including one from the public that stated that Rack Man may be Joe Biviano, a drug dealer who had gone missing from Drummoyne in 1993. They are still hoping to match the DNA.

The remains of Rack Man are still lying in the morgue.

I wonder just how many dead bodies have been discovered by fishermen over the years? Evidently quite a few. Hope I never catch one!

Coffee out on the patio again today!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

"Toons On Sunday...!

Gotta have a few 'toons on Sunday, right?

And one more...

Have a great day, OK?

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Strange Looking Squid...!

Once again, Mother Nature gives us a look at one of her strange but beautiful creatures.

The depths of the oceans contain some really astonishing creatures that we very seldom get to see. Because of the depths where so many of these beauties live, even pictures of most of them are few and far between.

Purple Googly-Eyed Squid

Photo credit: Sydney Morning Herald

Scientists aboard the undersea exploration vessel Nautilus in the Pacific were recently treated to a sight rarely looked upon by humans—Rossia pacifica, a type of bobtail squid that typically sticks close to the ocean floor. As you can see, they had no trouble spotting it, as it looks like a living, swimming plush animal.

The squid have been recorded dwelling as deep as 1,300 meters (4,000 ft) below the ocean’s surface, where intense cold and pressure can cause native lifeforms to take on strange and alien appearances. The Nautilus researchers were forced to consult several different institutions, including the University of California Santa Barbara, to identify the cute little guy. On the rare occasions when they are spotted, these squid tend to freeze up, as they are used to extremely dark environments, resulting in picture-perfect poses like the one above.

It really does look like some kind of plush toy you might find in a child's collection, doesn't it? Strange little critter, for sure. I took this article from Listverse again.

Coffee outside this morning, OK?

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Hollinwell Incident For Freaky Friday...!

Sometimes there are cases of what appears to be mass hysteria that just can't be explained.

In this case, taken from the pages of Listverse, there was an incident involving an entire marching band. How's that for creepy?

The Hollinwell Incident

Photo via the Birmingham Mail

On July 13, 1986, students gathered on the Hollinwell Showground in England’s Kirkby-in-Ashfield for a marching band competition. Witnesses reported that suddenly, hundreds of students fell silent, and nearly 300 of them collapsed. One victim was a three-month-old baby.

The students would describe the same symptoms—burning eyes and throat, nausea, headaches, and stomach cramps. By the time it was over, 259 would be taken to the hospital, and the event was given an ominous name: All Fall Down.

Decades later, it is still unclear what caused the mass collapse of marching band performers. Some claim it was mass hysteria, while others point to the possibility that a pesticide sprayed on the field was responsible for the students’ collapse, but nothing has ever been confirmed.

All I can say is that whatever caused this incident was pretty serious. How could it be faked when one of the victims was an infant? Strange to say the least!

Coffee out on the patio this morning, but be ready to move inside if the rain comes back.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sometimes It 's Who You Know...!

Who would have ever thought that some of the founding fathers could be a little shady when they needed to be?

Take ol' John Hancock, for instance. He was already rich when he found himself in trouble for smuggling. Then the lawyer shows up and guess who it was!

The Wealthy Smuggler

Photo credit: John Singleton Copley

In the 18th century, 40 percent of all British exports to the northern American colonies had to enter via the Port of Boston. These exports were protected by the British through a series of trade taxes imposed by the Navigation Acts.

Although John Hancock was a man of enormous wealth (having inherited most of his fortune in his mid-twenties), he avoided paying these duties to the British by illegally smuggling exports such as French molasses, tea, glass, lead, paper, tobacco, rum, and wine.

His fortune grew until the late 1760s when he was formally charged with smuggling. Hancock sought the counsel of John Adams, an attorney who was the cousin of Hancock’s closest friend, Samuel Adams. Although Hancock was guilty, Adams got Hancock relieved of all charges.

I reckon this is one of those times when crime does pay, especially when you know the right folks!

Coffee inside this morning 'cause it's raining again outside!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Bank Heist For Western Wednesday...!

This may come as a big shock to most folks, but bank robbery in the Old West wasn't as popular as we think!

Bank Heists Almost Never Happened

Photo credit: Wikimedia

When historians looked at the instances of bank robberies across 15 western states between 1859 and 1900, they could actually confirm fewer than 10—including two carried out by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Most banks were built by people who had already established their reputations in town as something else, most often the owners of general stores. When banks were finally built, they were usually placed in a location that made breaking into them difficult: the center of town, with stores on either side. Iron safes were also installed, making robberies not nearly as widespread as Hollywood claims.

This total was a complete surprise to me. I figured the number would be a lot higher. Guess the bad guys found it easier to rob the trains and stage coaches. I found this article over at Listverser.

Coffee inside where it's dry. More rain coming!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Green Eggs And Ham...!

I know you must remember that book, right? Written by none other than Dr. Seuss. His real name was Theodor Geisel, BYW.

In 1960, on a challenge from his editor, he published a book we all know as Green Eggs And Ham . The book was 62 pages and a grand total of 50 words in it. Only one of those word was more than one syllable or 5 letters...the word anywhere!

As of 2011, the book Green Eggs And Ham was the fourth best selling children's book ever! I reckon that bigger isn't always better, ya know?

Coffee outside on the patio this morning. Better hurry, though before the rain comes back!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Missing Family Jewel On Monday Mystery...!

I know what you're thinking, but I'm not talking about those family jewels, OK?

These family jewels are actually the nickname for a series of reports made my the government. Probably would make some interesting reading, except for the fact that some of the list is missing!

What’s In The Missing Family Jewel jewels

Photo via Wikipedia

In 1973, director James Schlessinger ordered deputy director William Colby to compile a record of any CIA activities since 1959 that might have violated the law or the agency’s charter. Colby put together a loose-leaf package of around 700 papers, which came to be known as “the Family Jewels.” Examples of the Jewels include Yuri Nosenko’s three-year detention, domestic surveillance operations carried out by CIA agents, and the agency’s famous attempts to kill Castro and other foreign leaders. Many of these secrets trickled out over the years or were exposed by congressional investigations like the Church Committee. But the full document was only released in 2007, providing a fascinating insight into the CIA’s most scandalous operations.

Almost all of them anyway. Even in 2007, one prominent Jewel was redacted. A memo from Howard Osborn, CIA director of security, lists the Jewels involving his department. The second Jewel on the list describes how the CIA recruited the Mafia to help assassinate Fidel Castro. But the first item on the list is blacked out. So is a later section describing the redacted operation in more detail. So what’s the missing Jewel? It remains unclear, but it must be good. As National Security Archive director Thomas Blanton told The Nation: “The No. 1 jewel of the CIA’s Office of Security is probably a pretty good one—especially since the second jewel in this list is the Roselli/Castro assassination program.”

I'll have to say that no one can keep a secret better than the boys in the government. After all, they are the pros, right?

Coffee inside again today. More rain is on the way.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Stormy Sunday 'Toons...!

We have a big storm working here and it is wet! So a little distraction is probably a good thing! Here we go...!

And one more...!

That's enough fun for today, OK?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Raining outside!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Great (?) Moon Rock Theft...!

Can you believe it? At one time, someone actually stole some moon rock...about 17 lbs. worth.

What's most shocking about this whole thing is what the thief did with them after he took them home. Doesn't seem like he was the brightest bulb in the pack to me. Here is the story about this caper from the folks over at Listverse.

Moon Rocks

Photo credit: NASA Johnson Space Center via LiveScience

In 2002, NASA experienced one of the most bizarre things in its history: Someone stole moon rocks. The culprit was Thad Roberts, age 25, who was working as an intern at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, at the time. Roberts stole 7.71 kg (17 lbs) of moon rocks brought back to Earth by the historic Apollo 11 mission.

After committing this bizarre heist, Thad immediately scattered the moon rocks across his bed and proceeded to have “uncomfortable” sex with his girlfriend on top of them. The rocks were eventually recovered after Roberts made the mistake of selling them on the Internet. For committing such a bizarre crime, Roberts was sentenced to 100 months in prison.

I mean...was this guy an idiot or what? I could have saved him some trouble if he had only asked. I would have told him that spreading rocks in your bed before having sex with your girlfriend was not going to be very comfortable! Wonder if the are still together?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. I have some fresh baked bread I'll share!

Friday, August 12, 2016

First "Throne" Was For The Throne...!

That's right! The very first "Throne" as we call it was installed for the Queen of England! Talk about rank having it's privileges !

Tis is another case of the inventor not getting the credit he deserved. Believe me, this guy deserves thanks from all of us!

Flush Toilet—Alexander Cumming
Credited To Thomas Crapper

Photo credit:

It could be argued that the first flush toilet was created far before British inventor Alexander Cumming debuted his device in 1775. As far back as 1596, fellow Brit Sir John Harington is known to have produced a working model, which he installed for Queen Elizabeth.

This model left a lot to be desired. It required a great deal of water, and society lacked the infrastructure to properly deal with waste disposal. Cumming’s improved version was the first to feature the S-pipe, which prevented waste (and smell) from backing up and is still a feature of the modern design.

Thomas Crapper merely improved upon this with a modified tank mechanism. He didn’t market his devices—which are the reason that some refer to toilets as “the crapper” to this day—until the late 1800s.

I got this information from the folks over at Listverse. A true case of giving credit where credit is dur, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning. A few showers may come our way!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Invention Of The Ball Point Pen...!

Here is some history about something we have all probably used from time to time.

This is one of those things that we all kinda take for granted. Imagine if you will, trying to solve all the problems of creating a workable model of a ball point for the first time. The next step was in trying to convince folks to actually user it!

Ballpoint Pen

The first patent on a ballpoint pen was issued on 30 October 1888, to John J. Loud, a leather tanner, who was attempting to make a writing implement that would be able to write on the leather he tanned, which the then-common fountain pen couldn’t do. The pen had a rotating small steel ball, held in place by a socket. Then, fifty years later, with the help of his brother George, László Bíró, a chemist, began to work on designing new types of pens. Bíró fitted this pen with a tiny ball in its tip that was free to turn in a socket. As the pen moved along the paper, the ball rotated, picking up ink from the ink cartridge and leaving it on the paper. Bíró filed a British patent on 15 June 1938. Earlier pens leaked or clogged due to improper viscosity of the ink, and depended on gravity to deliver the ink to the ball. Depending on gravity caused difficulties with the flow and required that the pen be held nearly vertically. The Biro pen both pressurized the ink column and used capillary action for ink delivery, solving the flow problems.

Amazing how such a common thing today was almost a miracle back in the old days.

Coffee out on the patio this morning. It's hot, but not so bad if we start early.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Stetson's Hats For Western Wednesday...!

Ever wonder about the fashion of the old west? Not sure if you could call it fashion exactly, but you know what I mean.

Some things are easy to remember, though. Take someone like John Stetson and his line of hats!

The Original Cowboy Hat Looked Very Different

Photo credit: Wikimedia

John B. Stetson came from a long line of hatters, and when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis, he headed westward in the 1860s. After setting up shop in Missouri, Stetson created the original cowboy hat: the Boss of the Plains hat.

It looks little like what we might imagine for the typical cowboy hat, with a round brim and uncreased crown. Originally made from beaver fur and designed to be lightweight and waterproof, it was not until the Boss of the Plains hat was already popular that it began to morph into something closer to the 10-gallon hats we think of today.
Wearers in different areas started customizing their hats, and the creases and folds of the hats developed into their own sort of language. They defined status, occupation, and where a person was from, until Stetson adopted the five most popular creases into his official line.

Hope you enjoyed this little bit of hat history from the early days of the old west.

Coffee inside again this morning. This record setting heat is something else!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Credit Given But Not Earned...!

Many times in life, we give credit to folks for an invention when the credit really belongs to someone else.

The question I have to ask is which is giving the credit wrongly, or being taken by the wrong folks under false pretenses?

Electric Chair—Alfred Southwick
Credited To Thomas Edison

Photo via Wikimedia

In 1890, the electric chair was first used in the US to execute wife-killer William Kemmler. The chair had been built by employees of Thomas Edison, who was against the death penalty but believed the chair was more humane than hanging. However, New York dentist Alfred Southwick came up with the idea for the electric chair first.

For years, he had experimented with using electric current to numb pain in his dental practice. After witnessing an accidental electrocution at a local dock in 1881, he was inspired to create an apparatus like a dentist’s chair that used electricity as a painless form of execution. Southwick and a partner electrocuted animals to find the right voltage.

When they had trouble with their electric chair, they contacted Edison for help. Although he initially refused, Edison obviously warmed to the idea later.

I find it ironic that the chair was developed as a less painful way of execution, don't you?

Coffee in the kitchen this morning. Too hot outside!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Disappearing Police Chief For Monday Mystery...!

Many folks just disappear in the U.S. every year. In fact, we've talked about a few right here.

This case is a little different than the rest, mainly because the person doing the vanishing act was a police chief. Here is the story for ya!

The Disappearance Of Mel Wiley

After a lengthy career in law enforcement, Mel Wiley became the police chief of Hinckley Township, Ohio, in 1982. Three years later, the 47-year-old Wiley would vanish without a trace. The last confirmed sighting of him took place on July 28, 1985. Two days later, his abandoned station wagon was found at Lakefront State Park in Cleveland. When investigators checked Wiley’s apartment, there were no signs of foul play. Several days’ worth of food and water had been left out for Wiley’s two cats, and there were numerous personal items missing from both his apartment and his desk at the police station. The most intriguing clue, however, came from Wiley’s office typewriter.

Investigators performed an analysis on the typewriter’s ribbon and discovered that Wiley had typed a letter to a friend, in which he claimed that he was tired of his life and wanted to disappear. Curiously, Wiley’s friend never received this letter, and no copy of it was found. It seemed plausible that Wiley could have staged his disappearance, as he had gotten divorced from his wife the previous year and expressed a desire to retire from police work in order to become a writer. Wiley even claimed he had been working on a novel, but investigators could never find any manuscript for it. Wiley also never accessed any of the money in his bank account or police pension fund, and there is no paper trail for him. If he did manage to successfully orchestrate his own disappearance, he has managed to stay off the radar for 30 years.

Quite the mystery, right? Seems as though the man really wanted to disappear in the worse way. Evidently he did a good job because the missing person case is still open as far as I know.

Coffee out on the patio again this morning!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Cartoons For A Hot Sunday...!

Gonna be another hot one today, so let's take a break with some cool 'toons. OK?

And one more...

Coffee out on the patio today!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Now This Is Scary...!

Ya know how I've been talking about how hot and humid it's been in Houston? Well, it's been hot enough to attract these guys!

Do you recognize these critters? VULTURES!! What in the heck are vultures doing on my patio? Guess they think it's a desert out there!

Coffee out on the patio this morning...if you don't mind the vultures!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Charlton Heston And Los Alamos...!

We all know that movie stars and other famous folks did a lot for the war effort, but here's a bit of history that may surprise you.

The Top Secret Narration Of Charlton Heston

Photo credit: 20th Century Fox Studios

A lot of nuclear tests were filmed for scientific analysis and made into classified videos. When a scientist complained to the head of the film and video division at Los Alamos about the poor narration in one of the videos, the head jokingly asked the scientist whether he would like then-famous actor Charlton Heston to narrate the films. When the scientist said yes, the head actually called Heston and asked him to narrate films produced by Los Alamos, including footage of nuclear tests.

To everyone’s great surprise, Heston agreed to narrate top secret films basically for free, and he was given a Q-rating, the civilian equivalent of the highest level of military clearance. One advantage of having Heston narrate the rather boring and technical films was that the people watching would be more interested in the films themselves.

Guess you just never know what some folks will do for the government. Pretty good voice for narration, I reckon.

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Strange Little Skeleton...!

Sometimes the folks that dig up old bones and temples and such come across something that really is baffling to them all.

The way I see it is if the so-called experts can't explain it, then it falls into the category of strange!

Atacama ‘Alien’ Skeleton

Photo credit: Sirius (YouTube) via NBC News

When a strange, 15-centimeter (6 in) skeleton in Chile’s Atacama Desert was unearthed in 2003, conspiracy theorists insisted that the bones were those of an extraterrestrial. The elongated skull and the number of ribs (10 rather than 12) weren’t anything like those of a human being. Others held the opinion it was the skeleton of an aborted fetus or a primate. However, scientists confirmed the skeleton to be human.

The elongated head could have resulted from deliberate skull deformation, widely practiced 1,000 years ago in Central America. No one is sure how old the skeleton is, however, although researchers believe that death occurred “at least a few decades ago.” Another possibility concerning the deformed skull is turricephaly, or high-head syndrome, a birth defect that leaves the top of the skull cone-shaped.

Then there’s the skeleton’s stature. Its DNA indicates a child between six and eight years old, but it’s only 15 centimeters long. How could a child of such an age have been so tiny? Dwarfism doesn’t seem to account for the discrepancy between its age and size.

Also odd is the fact that nine percent of the skeleton’s genes don’t fit into the human genome. This could be due to degradation of the DNA, distortion of results by lab preparation, or insufficient data, though. Nevertheless, enough unanswered questions remain to make this bizarre skeleton a true enigma.

These bones just prove that science can't answer all the questions. Maybe this is one of those cases where we don't really need to know.

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Murder Of Wild Bill Hickok...!

In the history of the old west, not many folks had the reputation of Wild Bill Hickok.

However, like most legendary gunfighters of the time, he died a tragic death. Here's a little backstory of Hickok. Some of it you may not know!

Wild Bill Hickok is murdered

“Wild Bill” Hickok, one of the greatest gunfighters of the American West, is murdered in Deadwood, South Dakota.

Born in Illinois in 1837, James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok first gained notoriety as a gunfighter in 1861 when he coolly shot three men who were trying to kill him. A highly sensationalized account of the gunfight appeared six years later in the popular periodical Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, sparking Hickok’s rise to national fame. Other articles and books followed, and though his prowess was often exaggerated, Hickok did earn his reputation with a string of impressive gunfights.

After accidentally killing his deputy during an 1871 shootout in Abilene, Texas, Hickok never fought another gun battle. For the next several years he lived off his famous reputation, appearing as himself in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show. Occasionally, he worked as guide for wealthy hunters. His renowned eyesight began to fail, and for a time he was reduced to wandering the West trying to make a living as a gambler. Several times he was arrested for vagrancy.

In the spring of 1876, Hickok arrived in the Black Hills mining town of Deadwood, South Dakota. There he became a regular at the poker tables of the No. 10 Saloon, eking out a meager existence as a card player. On this day in 1876, Hickok was playing cards with his back to the saloon door. At 4:15 in the afternoon, a young gunslinger named Jack McCall walked into the saloon, approached Hickok from behind, and shot him in the back of the head. Hickok died immediately. McCall tried to shoot others in the crowd, but amazingly, all of the remaining cartridges in his pistol were duds. McCall was later tried, convicted, and hanged.

Hickok was only 39 years old when he died. The most famous gunfighter in the history of the West died with his Smith & Wesson revolver in his holster, never having seen his murderer. According to legend, Hickok held a pair of black aces and black eights when he died, a combination that has since been known as the Dead Man’s Hand.

Seems to me that he died at a fairly young age, but I guess that most men in his line of work did.

Coffee out on the patio this morning, where it's already hot!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Amazing Automaton Called "The Writer...!"

Back in the days we often think of being almost primitive, some amazing works of functional art were being created. This is one of my favorites !

The Writer

At the Neuchatel Museum of Art and History west of Bern, Switzerland, a three-year-old barefoot boy sits before a mahogany desk, writing full letters with a goose feather quill in its right hand. What at first glance looks like a charming toy doll is actually an engineering wonder: the ancestor of the modern computer. Look closer and you can see its eyes following its work. It shakes the quill pen after dipping it into the inkstand.

Built by Swiss-born watchmaker Pierre Jacquet-Droz in the late 1770s, The Writer’s 6,000 custom-made components work in concert to create a fully self-contained programmable writing machine. The boy is animated by a crank that winds up the mainsprings. It can write any custom text of up to 40 letters long with a maximum of four lines, thanks to 40 cams that function like a read-only program. This programming system disk allows it to write without any external intervention. The Writer can even be interrupted in the middle of a line, and be made to compose another.

Jacquet-Droz had always dazzled with his automata. In the court of King Ferdinand VI of Spain, people were convinced that his lifelike creations were the work of witchcraft. To escape the charge of sorcery by the Inquisition, Jacquet-Droz invited the Grand Inquisitor to examine his robot and its inner mechanism to satisfy himself that it moved by purely natural means.

The Writer is one of a trio of androids Jacquet-Droz built from 1767 to 1774. The other two, less complex than The Writer, are the Lady Musician and the Draftsman. What makes these robots especially remarkable was the use of miniaturization. All the mechanisms that operate the androids are enclosed within their bodies, not on a piece of furniture accompanying the tableau, as was usual. This miniaturization made synchronization of all pieces more difficult, which makes the robots, which still work after more than 200 years, all the more awesome.

When I see something like this, I realize that we don't give anywhere near the credit to the inventors and craftsmen of the past that they deserve. So much of what we create today is built on the foundations laid by these great men, don't you think?

Coffee out on the patio this morning!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Strange Spider For Monday Mysteries...!

Nature has a way of sometimes showing us just how much we still have to learn.

Not many creatures are as mysterious as the spider. Seems as though the more we learn about them, the more questions remain!

Blue Tarantulas

There are more than 850 documented tarantula species in the world. Some are as big as the human face while others are capable of shooting excrement as a defense mechanism. Then there are those that are, for some unknown reason, bright blue in color.

Experts suspect that the blue color serves an important purpose. However, “they don’t know what that [specific] function is yet.” The most plausible hypothesis has to do with sexual selection.

Scientists surmise that the flashy color helps tarantulas attract potential mates. However, Bor-Kai Hsiung of the University of Akron points out that this hypothesis is unlikely to be true since, despite the fact that tarantulas have eight eyes, they have very poor eyesight.

Blue spiders? I thought they were ugly enough being brown or black or yellow. Being blue really doesn't make them any prettier in my eyes, ya know what I mean?

Coffee out on the patio once more.