Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.
Background Illustrations provided by: http://edison.rutgers.edu/

What caused Sweden to transform from a highly militaristic society (30 years war through the Napoleonic Wars) to one of staunch neutrality?

What caused Sweden to transform from a highly militaristic society (30 years war through the Napoleonic Wars) to one of staunch neutrality?

First of all, Sweden being neutral did not mean it was not militaristic or even belligerent at several times even after the Napoleonic war. In general, Sweden had more soldiers per capita and invested a larger percentage of its GDP into defense spending than most western countries.

Sweden’s foreign ambitions almost all start with weak neighbors or potential threats.

As the Livonian Confederation…

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There were 5 living former presidents during the onset of the Civil War:

There were 5 living former presidents during the onset of the Civil War:

There were five former living presidents in 1860: Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan. They were #8, #10, #13, #14, and #15. Lincoln is #16.

Two die in 1862: Van Buren and Tyler, the former having been born in 1782 and the latter in 1790.

Van Buren was a one-term president who served 1837-1841. He did not support the annexation of Texas before or…

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Sieges of Paris:

Two major sieges happened to Paris in the years 1870-1871. That’s right, two.

The first was at the end of the Franco-Prussian war. The French had been beaten back to the point that Napoleon resigned (because he was captured) and Republic declared. The French government fled to Versailles (right down the road). Paris, on the other hand, became the point of contention in negotiations. The Prussians…

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French Canadians (primarily Quebecois) and their protection of their heritage

French Canadians (primarily Quebecois) and their protection of their heritage

Quebec’s relationship with English speaking Canada begins in 1759 with the British victory over France in North America during the Seven Year’s War and the seizure of their colony, New France aka. present day Quebec, though it extended through southwestern Ontario at the time. Known simply as the Conquest, the defeat of French general Louis-Joseph de Montcalm by English General James Wolfe on the…

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Hobby Lobby SCOTUS Ruling:

The Supreme Court ruling on BURWELL, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL. v. HOBBY LOBBY STORES, INC. has now opened up the precedent (ignoring how narrowly tailored the ruling was to only contraception) that under the RFRA, even if its a compelling government interest, the state cannot mandate any firm with sincere religious beliefs to carry out a requirement, so long as the government…

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Were Southern Generals better than Northern Generals in the US Civil War?

Were Southern Generals better than Northern Generals in the US Civil War?

Right after the Civil War, there was something called the myth of the “Lost Cause.” It was pioneered by Edward A. Pollard, A Richmond journalist who wrote a history of the war in 1866, called (can you guess?) The Lost Cause. Basically, the book says that the Confederacy was a glorious agrarian state, and was defended by the best armies in American history. Pollard argues that the Armies of the…

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Why did Hitler so grossly underestimate the Soviet Union’s war capability?

Why did Hitler so grossly underestimate the Soviet Union’s war capability?

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There were a number of reasons why Hitler and the Oberkommando of the Wehrmacht had underestimated Soviet troop strength and capabilities before the 22nd of June in 1941. First of all were the failures of intelligence to accurately produce a realistic estimate of enemy troop strength and their ability to recover said losses. The Germans were aware of the size of the red army in general terms and…

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How close was Heisenberg to successfully developing the Atomic bomb for the Nazis?

How close was Heisenberg to successfully developing the Atomic bomb for the Nazis?

The way I like to talk about this is in this way: what are the phases necessary for developing a nuclear weapon? In some ways, it’s easiest to first talk about this in the context of the American Manhattan Project.

In 1939, Einstein and Szilard wrote the famous letter to Roosevelt about bomb issues. FDR said, “sounds interesting,” and made a very small exploratory committee to look into it (the…

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Hitler’s Pants being burnt by the allies after the war; ca 1947

The Nazis had carefully preserved the pants from the  Operation Valkyrie assassination attempt and the allies inherited them after the war.

Hitler’s Pants being burnt by the allies after the war; ca 1947

The Nazis had carefully preserved the pants from the  Operation Valkyrie assassination attempt and the allies inherited them after the war.

Hitlers pants after the Operation Valkyrie assassination attempt; ca. 1944

Sinbad in a Sousaphone; ca. 1940s

Sinbad in a Sousaphone; ca. 1940s

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The crew of the Coast Guard cutter Campbell adopted a mixed-breed puppy in 1938.  Little did they know that their canine companion would become a world famous Coast Guard veteran.  He was, literally, a member of the crew, complete with all the necessary enlistment forms and other official paperwork,  uniforms, and his own bunk.  He sailed on board the combat-tested cutter through World War II…

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US Marines watch F4U Corsairs drop napalm on Chinese positions near the Chosin Reservoir; December 26th, 1950

US Marines watch F4U Corsairs drop napalm on Chinese positions near the Chosin Reservoir; December 26th, 1950

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Forgotten war. And forgotten it seems, that the main foe were Chinese soldiers.

There is a great documentary called “Chosin”. It’s on Netflix and has a lot of interviews with survivors that are unbelievable.

One that has stuck with me was the man who was wounded, then the truck carrying him to an aid station was captured by the Chinese/North Koreans. They set the truck on fire to kill the…

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Alfred J. Eggers, Jr., stands beside the Atmosphere Entry Simulator he invented in 1958 as a laboratory means of studying the problems of aerodynamic heating and thermal stresses during re-entry.

Alfred J. Eggers, Jr., stands beside the Atmosphere Entry Simulator he invented in 1958 as a laboratory means of studying the problems of aerodynamic heating and thermal stresses during re-entry.

Alfred J. Eggers, Jr., stands beside the Atmosphere Entry Simulator he invented in 1958 as a laboratory means of studying the problems of aerodynamic heating and thermal stresses during re-entry.

Alfred J. Eggers, Jr., stands beside the Atmosphere Entry Simulator he invented in 1958 as a laboratory means of studying the problems of aerodynamic heating and thermal stresses during re-entry.

A self-firing rifle improvised by the Anzacs during their evacuation from Gallipoli, used to deceive the Ottomans into thinking that the Anzacs still occupied their trenches; ca. 1915

A self-firing rifle improvised by the Anzacs during their evacuation from Gallipoli, used to deceive the Ottomans into thinking that the Anzacs still occupied their trenches; ca. 1915

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Fire was maintained from the trenches after the withdrawal of the last men, by rifles arranged to fire automatically. This was done by a weight being released which pulled the trigger. Two kerosene tins were placed one above the other, the top one full of water and the bottom one with the trigger string attached to it, empty. At the last minute, small holes would be punched in the upper tin;…

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