Little Bits of History

Try This

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 31, 2013
 John Pemberton

John Pemberton

August 31, 1900: Charles Candler mixes his syrup with carbonated water for English customers. In 1885 John Pemberton mixed together a concoction he called Pemberton’s French Wine Coca, hoping to mirror the success of a similar cocawine made in France. Cocawine is a mixture of wine and cocaine and Vin Mariana was highly successful on the Continent. Pemberton sold his patent medicine by the glass at a soda fountain in Georgia. Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta found a solid customer base for the curative drink which sold for a nickel.

When Georgia enforced Prohibition in the state, the formula was changed. But the beverage still cured many ailments – allegedly. By 1888 there were three versions of the drink. Asa Griggs Candler bought into Pemberton’s company in 1887 and incorporated it as Coca Cola Company in 1888. Pemberton, suffering from addictions, sold the rights to a consortium of four businessmen and his own son began selling the drink with a third slightly altered recipe. A lot of legal and illegal wrangling ended with Candler incorporating a new company, The Coca-Cola Company in 1892. By 1910, all old records were destroyed leaving an even less clear trail.

Coca-Cola was sold in bottles for the first time on March 12, 1894. An outdoor painted advertisement appeared the same year. The sales in England began in the basement restaurant at a Spence’s department store (a silk merchant and general goods store) in London and spread to include Selfridges and the London Coliseum soda fountains. On August 31, 2000 a commemorative plaque was unveiled on the site of the first sales in Great Britain. Audley Harrison revealed the plaque at 76-79 St. Paul’s Churchyard.

The Coca-Cola Company does worldwide business today. They are based out of Atlanta, Georgia and Muhtar Kent is chairman of the company. In 2007 they brought in $28.857 billion in revenue with a net income of $5.981 billion. There were 90,800 employees as of September 2008. They offer over 2,800 beverage products ranging from regular and diet sparkling drinks to 100% fruit juices, fruit juice drinks, and waters. They also market sport and energy drinks, teas and coffees as well as milk and soy-based beverages.

“The truth is that our way of celebrating the Christmas season does spring from myriad cultures and sources, from St. Nicholas to Coca-Cola advertising campaigns.” – Richard Roeper

“Bob Dole admitted he used cocaine when he was in college, but then Coca-Cola changed its formula.” – Bill Maher

“I tried sniffing Coke once, but the ice cubes got stuck in my nose.” – seen on a tee shirt

“The only way that I could figure they could improve upon Coca-Cola, one of life’s most delightful elixirs, which studies prove will heal the sick and occasionally raise the dead, is to put rum or bourbon in it.” – Lewis Grizzard

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: John Pemberton was born in 1831 in Georgia. He fought in the US Civil War and attained the rank of Colonel. In April 1865, he was wounded in the Battle of Columbus, Georgia. He received a slashing wound across his chest. He survived the injury but like many who were wounded, he became addicted to the morphine used to control the pain. Pemberton was also a pharmacist. He began a search for something that would ease the constant pain but also remove the addiction to morphine. There was a public concern for the number of veterans addicted to either morphine or alcohol as well as many suffering from depression or possibly post-traumatic stress disorder. Many women were also diagnosed with “neurasthenia” which was a nice way to say “high-strung”. Pemberton wanted a medicine to combat all these problems and coca wines seemed a possible answer. The rest, as they say, is history.

Also on this day: Who Was He? – In 1888, Mary Ann Nichols was brutally murdered.
Fairy Tale’s End – In 1997, Princess Diana is killed in a car crash.
Go West – In 1803, Meriwether Lewis began his great Expedition when he left Pittsburgh.

Thin Red Line

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 30, 2013
Jimmy Carter's hot line phone

Jimmy Carter’s hot line phone

August 30, 1963: A direct link between the US and USSR goes live. The Cuban Missile Crisis began on October 15, 1962 when aerial reconnaissance revealed SS-4 nuclear missiles in Cuba. President Kennedy met with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko on October 18 to let him know the US would not tolerate Soviet missiles so close to US borders. The tensions escalated between the two super powers and the world was on the brink of nuclear war. The threat was exacerbated by the painfully slow communications between Washington and Moscow.

On June 20, 1963, spokesmen for both nations signed an accord in Geneva, Switzerland. “Memorandum of Understanding Regarding the Establishment of a Direct Communication Line” made the creation of a “hotline” a priority. During the 1962 October Crisis it took the US about twelve hours to receive and decode Nikita Khrushchev’s 3,000 word settlement – time for him to send a more strongly worded missive. A quick way to communicate was essential to the world’s peace if not outright survival.

The image of a red telephone sitting on the desk in the Oval Office is compelling – and false. Instead the hotline was a full duplex wire telegraph circuit – this means both sides could send messages at the same time. There was no verbal communication since it was thought there was too much chance for misunderstanding. The first line was not a direct line running non-stop from the Pentagon to the Kremlin. There were several stops: Washington – London – Copenhagen – Stockholm – Helsinki – and finally Moscow. Messages were sent in the native tongue and translated after reception.

Telecommunications have improved greatly in the 40+ years since delayed “chat” nearly ended civilization as we know it. With more nations entering the nuclear weapons stage, there is even more need for instant, reliable contact. Automatic signaling service or point-to-point communication is spreading. Nations on the brink of disaster need to forestall total annihilation. The hotline has been upgraded as technology advances arrived on the scene. There is a proposal to set up instant communication between the US and China.

“The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.” – Edward R. Murrow

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.” – Joseph Priestley

“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.” – Rollo May

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update:  Communication is the ability to convey information. This can be done via exchange of thoughts by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behavior. The delivery is essential, as is the interpretation at reception. Humans convey messages either verbally (which can include the written word) or nonverbally. The latter is what is meant by “tone of voice” or “body language” which can add meaning to the words spoken. Part of the difficulty with online communication is that both of these aspects are missing even with the use of an emoticon added. There is also difficulty with translation. There are some words or phrases which are not readily translated between languages. Even when everyone is speaking the same language, there are issues with dialects. The fact that we can exchange ideas with some level of accuracy is really quite amazing.

Also on this day: Yesterdays and Todays – In 1909, the Burgess Shale site was discovered.
Wreck of the Pandora – In 1791, the Pandora sinks.
Well Being with Sikhs – In 1574, Ram Das Ji became a Guru.

Last Man Standing

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 29, 2013


August 29, 1911: Ishi is found near Oroville, California. Ishi was the last survivor of the Yahi People. He was said to be the last Native American who lived most of his life outside European American culture. “Ishi” means “man” in the Yahi dialect. It was forbidden in Yahi society for one to say his or her own name and no other Yahis survived to utter this last man’s true name. It remains a mystery.

Before European contact, it was estimated that 3,000 Yahi lived in what is now Northern California. In 1865, when Ishi was five-years-old, the Three Knolls Massacre took place. After the attack, only 30 Yahi survived. Cattlemen then killed about half of the survivors, driving the remaining Yahi into hiding for 40 years.

Ishi’s mother and companions died and he was found, emaciated and ill, near Oroville. He was taken into custody by the local sheriff for his own protection. He moved to the Museum of Anthropology at the University of California in San Francisco where he lived until he died of tuberculosis in 1916. While there he was studied by anthropologists Alfred L. Kroeber and Thomas Talbot Waterman who documented the Yahi life style. Edward Sapir studied the native language.

Steven Shackley of the University of California, Berkeley, has done intensive study of Ishi’s arrowhead and posits that Ishi may not have been full-blooded Yahi. Rather, the manufacturing technique used by Ishi may have been influenced by other Northern California tribes, either Wintu or Nomlaki. Regardless of how he learned to make the arrows, he was a very skilled archer. Ishi taught Saxton Pope, a doctor at the University, how to make both the bows and arrows and the two would often hunt in the Northern California woods. Today, there is an Ishi Tournament held yearly to match the skills of current enthusiasts against the skills of the Native American. Very few can match his accuracy.

“The most common trait of all primitive peoples is a reverence for the life-giving earth, and the Native American shared this elemental ethic: The land was alive to his loving touch, and he, its son, was brother to all creatures.” – Stewart L. Udall

“No longer will Native American culture be bottled up in collections and hidden from so many people in the world who wish to share them.” – Ben Nighthorse Campbell

“The art of Native Americans is integrated into the functional. Many times the designs have symbolic or even magical meanings.” – Peter Jacobs

“Despite good intentions and best efforts, the stereotyping of Native Americans into narrow images is an undeniable consequence of choosing such names and symbols.” – Bernard Franklin

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The Three Knolls Massacre took place in 1866 on the Mill Creek in California. The term massacre refers to the mass killing of one group by another where the defeated group is considered to be innocent or victimized by the winners. “Indian massacres” refers to the confrontations between European colonists and eventually US citizens against the indigenous tribes. There is archeological evidence that massacres located in North America did not begin in 1492. There is a site in Chamberlain, South Dakota where the Crow Creek massacre took place around 1325 with 486 known dead. What is referred to as the Last Massacre took place in January 1911 when a group of Shoshone killed four ranchers in Nevada and then in February an American posse killed eight of the Shoshone suspects and captured four children from the group.

Also on this day: Have You Hugged Your Hog Today? – In 1885, Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler patents the motorcycle.
The Ashes – In 1882, The Ashes rivalry begins.
Day Tripper – In 1966, The Beatles gave their last paid concert.

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Sci Am

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 28, 2013
Scientific American

First Scientific American

August 28, 1845: Rufus Porter publishes a new magazine. Porter was a painter and inventor who was born in Massachusetts in 1792. He started school at the age of four and the family moved to Maine when he was nine. He was one of six children. In 1815 he married and moved to Connecticut. He opened a dance studio and also began to paint portraits. He traveled as far as Hawaii in 1818-19 and then returned to New England. Between 1825 and 1845 he decorated ≈ 160 houses along the East Coast becoming famous as a muralist. He had ten children with his first wife and after her death, he remarried and had six more children.

He was also an inventor and produced a portable camera obscura with which he produced silhouette pictures in under 15 minutes, charging twenty cents each (≈ $10 in 2009 USD). He experimented with wind power for many domestic and agricultural uses. He invented many items without realizing much financial gain. He published four editions of A Selected Collection of Valuable and Curious Arts, and Interesting Experiments in 1825-26. In 1841 he bought into the New York mechanic and published it out of New York City for 23 weekly issue. He then moved the magazine to Boston and renamed it American mechanic. He published his plans for many innovative items before it folded after the 106th issue.

He started this new venture in 1845. The weekly broadsheet came out every Thursday and was subtitled “The Advocate of Industry and Enterprise, and Journal of Mechanical and Other Improvements.” The magazine emphasized proceedings at the US patent office as well as innovations by great thinkers of the era. Abraham Lincoln’s device for buoying vessels was featured as was an article on the universal joint – still used today in almost every car made. The magazine is one of the oldest continually published in the US – Scientific American.

Today, Scientific American is published monthly and is global in scope. Also called SciAm, it is published in fifteen foreign languages and has more than one million copies in circulation worldwide. Their contributors explore scientific theories and educate the general public concerning the latest discoveries.

“No one should approach the temple of science with the soul of a money changer.” – Thomas Browne

“The most remarkable discovery made by scientists is science itself.” – Gerard Piel

“But in science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the man to whom the idea first occurs.” – Francis Darwin

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” – Isaac Asimov

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Only ten months after beginning the magazine, Porter sold it to Orson Desaix Munn I and Alfred Ely Beach. The monthly magazine is available in print and since 1996 they have maintained an online presence at Their total circulation is almost 500,000. Appointed in December 2009 as the eighth in line, Mariette DiChristina is the editor. She is the first woman to hold that post. Between 1990 and 2005, Scientific American also produced a program on PBS. There have been a few times when the magazine ran afoul. In the 1950s, they were accused of giving away classified information, but it was found to be a false accusation. They have also been criticized for articles in this century concerning the environment, war, and even their pricing structure.

Also on this day: First Tornado Photograph – In 1884, the first tornado photograph is made.
Odds and Evens – In 888, the last date written in all even numbers for over a thousand years.
Enceladus – In 1789, William Herschel found Enceladus in the night sky.

War is Hell

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 27, 2013
Anglo-Zanzibar War - sultan's harem after the bombing

Anglo-Zanzibar War – sultan’s harem after the bombing

August 27, 1896: The Anglo-Zanzibar War begins – and ends. The entire war lasted 38 minutes and is considered to be the shortest war in recorded history. Zanzibar was an English colony when the sun smiled on the British Empire. Sultan Hamad bin Thuwaini had been cooperating with British colonial administrators. The Sultan died on August 24 and his nephew, Khalid bin Barghash, seized control.

The Brits would have preferred to have Hamud bin Muhammed as leader, since they felt he would be more amenable to their presence. They issued an ultimatum to Barghash who refused to abdicate. Instead, he began to assemble an army of nearly 3,000 men, mostly extended family members. The highest ranking among his army was a colonel. Barghash also brought the Sultan’s yacht into service as his navy.

The British marshaled their own forces. Two battalions of foot soldiers, about 900 men, were backed by the British naval presence. Five ships were brought to the harbor, three of them modern protected cruisers and two gunboats. General Lloyd Mathews led the British forces. The new Sultan used a United States representative on the island to attempt a peaceful negotiation or resolution, but diplomacy failed.

The ultimatum ran out at 9 AM and the British navy began its bombardment of the island. They soon sunk the Zanzibar navy and began shelling the palace. Barghash escaped to the German consulate. After 38 minutes, it was all over. The Germans refused to hand over Barghash who escaped the island on October 2, 1896. Barghash was captured by the British in 1916. He was permitted to live on the island of Mombasa until his death in 1927. After the installation of a more malleable government, the British demanded payment for the shells fired during the war. The British contingency suffered only one casualty when one soldier was wounded. The Zanzibar forces saw about 500 men killed.

“The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.” – David Friedman

“The most persistent sound which reverberates through men’s history is the beating of war drums.” – Arthur Koestler

“War! that mad game the world so loves to play.” – Jonathan Swift

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” – Plato

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Today, Zanzibar is semi-autonomous but part of Tanzania in East Africa. It is comprised of two islands, Unguja and Pemba and the capital is Zanzibar City. The two islands cover 1,020 square miles and have a population of 1.3 million. The President is Ali Mohamed Shein. The lands were first settled around 1000 AD. The historic center of the capital is called Stone Town and is a World Heritage Site. The islands are known for the spice trade since they grow cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and black pepper there. It is why they, along with Mafia Island are sometimes called the Spice Islands. They also grow raffia, a type of palm tree which is used for textile purposes and in construction. Their other major industry is tourism. The islands gained their independence from Great Britain on December 10, 1963 and only a month later the Zanzibar Revolution took place. In April of 1964, the republic and Tanganyika merged and formed the United Republic of Tanzania, with Zanzibar remaining semi-autonomous.

Also on this day: Powerful Industry – In 1859, the modern day oil industry starts.
Kǒng Qiū – In 551 BC, Confucius is born.
Sculptor – In 1498, Michelangelo was commissioned to create the Pieta.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 26, 2013
Lithograph of the Krakatau  eruption

Lithograph of the Krakatau eruption

August 26, 1883: Krakatau erupts. The region had been plagued by earthquakes for years. Some of them were strong enough to be felt in Australia, ≈ 1,700 miles away. Beginning in May, steam began venting from Perboewatan, the northernmost of the island’s three volcanic cones. Ash was ejected reaching up 20,000 feet and visible in Batavia, Jakarta 100 miles away. Things got quiet again – until June.

On June 16, eruptions with loud explosions began again. Black clouds covered the island. A freshening wind blew the clouds away on June 24 to reveal two columns of ash billowing up from Krakatau. Eruptions sprang from a new vent or vents causing unusually high tides in the region. On August 11, H.J.G. Ferzenaar went to the island to investigate. He found three major ash columns and at least eleven other vents. All vegetation had been destroyed and ash 20 inches thick covered the island.

At 1 PM on August 26 the volcano went into its paroxysmal phase. Volcanic strength is measured by the amount of ejecta as well as the height of the plume. VEI 6 (on a scale of 1-8) is Plinean or colossal. These powerful eruptions occur, on average, once every few hundred years. The Krakatau eruption continued and by 2 PM the ash column could be seen rising 17 miles into the sky. On August 27, four explosions were heard at 05:30, 06:44, 10:02, and 10:41 – with the third being the loudest. The explosions were heard thousands of miles away in Australia and the island of Rodrigues.

The effects were far reaching. The official death toll by the local Dutch authorities was given as 36,417. There are some who put the count as high as 120,000. Whole settlements and entire populations were wiped out. Tsunamis hit the immediate area as well as far away in South Africa. Most of the island of Krakatau disappeared and the surrounding ocean floor was severely altered. Weather patterns changed globally from the massive infusion of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. Some of these atmospheric changes caused spectacularly colored sunsets worldwide. Edvard Munch’s famous painting, The Scream, is said to portray the oddly colored skies found halfway around the globe.

“This ground is hot enough to cook the Sunday roast!” – John Seach (Volcanologist) just before his boots melted on the hot ground.

“I have seen so many eruptions in the last 20 years that I don’t care if I die tomorrow.” – Maurice Krafft (Volcanologist) on the day before he was killed on Unzen Volcano, Japan

“What time does the volcano erupt?” – Tourist on Mt Etna

“Is this volcano active?” – Tourist on Mt Etna after being reprimanded for pitching a tent and sleeping the night at the base of the most dangerous volcanic vent in the world

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Krakatau is part of Indonesia which contains over 130 active volcano – more than any other nation on Earth. The volcano on Krakatau has had historical references as well. It was written about in the Javanese Book of Kings which recorded an explosion in 416 AD. There was a climactic event between 535 and 536 which may have been due to the volcano erupting in 535. The locals call the volcano The Fire Mountain and record eruptions around 850, 950, 1050, 1150, 1320, and 1530. There has been evidence since this massive eruption that a lava dome which is underwater has been emitting ejecta. The new island emerged above the waterline in 1927 for only a few days before sinking again. Further eruptions created four islands made of pumice and ash which were quickly eroded by the water. Anak Krakatau has grown at an average rate of five inches per week since the 1950s. On May 6, 2009, the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia raided the alert status for the island to Level III.

Also on this day: The Terminal Man – In 1988, Merhan Karrimi Nasseri hit the airport.
Negligence – In 1928, the first negligence case was started.
Big Chuck – In 1966, Charles de Gaulle entered Paris.

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Men in the Moon

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 25, 2013
Lithograph from the Great Moon Hoax

Lithograph from the Great Moon Hoax

August  25, 1835: The first of a six-part series runs in The Sun of New York City. The series was advertised on August 21 and was said to be a reprint from the esteemed Sir John Herschel as told to Dr. Grant and run in the prestigious The Edinburgh Courant. The famous astronomer supposedly made observations of the moon using a very powerful telescope and what he saw was astounding. According to the nearly 2-year-old paper, the moon sported fantastic animal life including unicorns, two-legged tailless beavers, and bat-like winged humanoids.

The creatures lived in huts, built temples, and played in the forests or on the beaches. Lithographs appeared with the articles to help readers see what life on the moon was like. The stories were filled with scientific evidence of “Vespertilio-homo” and all the wonders these winged creatures produced. Readership of The Sun dramatically increased as a science loving population learned about the men on the moon. So who was behind this fantastic fiction?

The most likely author is Cambridge-educated Richard Adams Locke although he never publicly claimed authorship. Two others, Jean-Nicholas Nicollet and Lewis Gaylord Clark, are also possible, but both are less likely to be the author than is Locke. If it was indeed Locke, he had two reasons to write the series – first and foremost was to boost sales. A second reason would have been to ridicule some of the more preposterous “scientific” claims of the time.

It took weeks for the articles to be revealed as a hoax. The Sun never printed a retraction. Circulation rose and remained higher than it had been prior to the feature’s week-long run. Herschel was at first amused, but he eventually tired of answering questions about life on the moon from people who took the articles as serious science. The series is said to have inspired Edgar Allen Poe with his own hoax about Balloons sailing across the ocean, also published in The Sun. Poe had published a life on the moon article in June of 1835 which was not as well received due to the satirical tone. However, it is considered to be one of the earliest science fiction stories. In it people sailed to the moon, also in a balloon, and met all manner of creatures living in the night sky.

“The next animal perceived would be classed on earth as a monster. It was of a bluish lead color, about the size of a goat, with a head and beard like him, and a single horn, slightly inclined for war from the perpendicular. The female was destitute of horn and beard, but had a much longer tail.”

“Its hills are pinnacled with tall quartz crystals, of so rich a yellow and orange hue that we at first supposed them to be pointed flames of fire; and they spring up thus from smooth round brows of hills which are covered with a velvet mantle.”

“But whilst gazing upon them in a perspective of about half a mile, we were thrilled with astonishment to perceive four successive flocks of large winged creatures, wholly unlike any kind of birds, descend with a slow even motion from the cliffs on the western side, and alight upon the plain.”

“The universal state of amity among all classes of lunar creatures, and the apparent absence of every carnivorous or ferocious creatures, gave us the most refined pleasure, and doubly endeared to us this lovely nocturnal companion of our larger, but less favored world.” – all from Great Astronomical Discoveries or the Great Moon Hoax

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Sir John Herschel was an English mathematician, astronomer, chemist, photographer, inventor, and botanist. He was the son of astronomer William Herschel. He was born in 1792 and studied at Eton College and St John’s College, Cambridge. He invented the use of the Julian day system in astronomy which is still in use today. He named the seven moons of Saturn and the four moons of Uranus. He instituted new and improved methods for photography and investigated color blindness. He was interested in the uses for chemical properties in ultraviolet rays. He traveled and wrote about his scientific interests. He was the author for a few scientific entries to the Encyclopædia Britannica. He married Margaret Brodie Stewart in 1829 and the couple had twelve children born between 1830 and 1855.

Also on this day: Swimming the English Channel – In 1875 Matthew Webb becomes the first to swim the English Channel.
I See – In 1609, Galileo demonstrated his telescope.
National Parks – In 1916, the US National Park Service was formed.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 24, 2013


August 24, 1869: US patent # 94,093 is issued to Cornelius Swarthout. The patent was for a waffle iron. The idea of cooking batter between two hot metal plates is quite old, going back to the ancient Greeks. They were originally flat cakes. In the Middle East they were called oublies and could be rolled and filled. By the 13th century, some craftsman built the plates with the ridges or honeycomb pattern and called his cakes gaufres from the Old French wafla.

The Dutch called the cakes wafel. The Pilgrims had learned of the treat before sailing to the New World and brought the cakes with them. Wafel appeared in English print by 1735. Thomas Jefferson brought back a long handled waffle iron from a trip to France. Some early waffle irons included intricate patterns such as a coat of arms or religious symbols. The batter was placed between the hinged plates that were then pressed together using wooden handles. The whole mechanism was then placed over the hearth fire to bake.

Swarthout, a Dutch-American, patented a version of waffle iron made using cast iron for the plates. The batter was pressed between the plates and then cooked on the stove top. The next leap in waffle technology came in 1911 when General Electric produced the first electric iron. They introduced a heating element using a built-in thermostat. Earlier versions often burned the waffle due to overheating. Today’s waffle irons appear different but the basic design remains the same but with upgrades such as non-stick surfaces.

There are a variety of waffles made throughout the world. Brussels waffles are thicker and with large pockets. They are often sold by street vendors with a dusting of powdered sugar. Liège waffles were created by a Belgium chef and contain caramelized chunks of pearl sugar. American waffles (Belgium waffles) are leavened with baking powder rather than yeast. They can be sweetened or used as a base for entrees, as in some chicken dishes. Hong Kong waffles are round and can be spread with peanut butter and sugar before eating the treat, often sold by street vendors. Stroopwafels are thin, round, and have a syrup filling. Which do you want? Stop waffling.

“A waffle is like a pancake with a syrup trap.” – Mitch Hedberg

“He give her a look that you could of poured on a waffle.” – Ring Lardner

“I have always loved Waffle House. It’s been like an oasis in the desert many times late at night after one of my concerts.” – Trace Adkins

“I’ve waffled before. I’ll waffle again.” – Howard Dean

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: A similar food is the pancake, also called a hotcake or flapjack. Rather than prepared by heating both sides simultaneously, each side is fried on a griddle. In America, a raising agent, usually baking powder, is used while in Britain no raising agents are part of the recipe. Like waffles, pancakes can be filled or have a topping applied. Toppings can include anything from traditional syrup to jams and fruits or even meats when used as an entrée. Shrove Tuesday is often associated with pancakes and in Britain the day is called Pancake Day. The idea was to use up perishable ingredients prior to the beginning of Lent when fasting is observed. Pancakes may have been the earliest and most widespread cereal food eaten in prehistoric societies. They can be thin (crêpes) to thick and other variations include blintzes and latkes. 

Also on this day: Pompeii Disappears – In AD 79, Mount Vesuvius erupts.
George Crum – In 1853, George Crum invents potato chips.
Not a Black Hole – Yet – In 1690, Calcutta is founded.

Holy God

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 23, 2013
World Council of Churches logo

World Council of Churches logo

August 23, 1948: The World Council of Churches (WCC) is officially founded. WCC is a worldwide consortium of Christians. The movement’s roots go back to the late 1800s when student and lay movements called for a unified force. The first meeting of the type was held in 1910 in Edinburgh where a world missionary conference was held. In 1920 an encyclical from the Synod of Constantinople called for a “fellowship of churches.” The idea was predicated on the League of Nations but with religion rather than politics as the underlying principle.

Leaders of more than 100 churches voted to begin the WCC in 1937-38. The outbreak of war delayed their organization. International conferences on “faith and order” (tenets, doctrine, rites) as well as “life and work” (social projects, international watchdog, relief work) were the driving forces during the early years. At the close of World War II, participating churches were encouraged to work with refugees, migrants, and the poor. The displaced and disaffected in the aftermath of war needed services and succor.

The WCC holds assemblies every 6-8 years. The first was held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and ran from August 22 through September 4, 1948 with 147 member churches in attendance. The official founding occurred on this date with four sections organized and the theme “Man’s disorder and God’s design” was taken. The first churches were predominantly Western Protestant faiths but the group has expanded to include many Orthodox sects of the East. With the Second Vatican Council, relations improved between the WCC and the Roman Catholic Church, although it is not a member.

The ensuing assemblies have met in the US, India, Sweden, Kenya, Canada, Australia, Zimbabwe, and Brazil – in that order. The last meeting concluded on February 23, 2006 where Archbishop Anastasios of the Albanian Orthodox Church was unanimously elected as one of the Presidents of WCC. Their current theme is “God in your grace, transform the world.” There are currently 349 member churches. Samuel Kobia, a Methodist minister from Kenya, has been General Secretary since 2004, the sixth man to hold the position. He recently announced he will not seek a second term in office and a new General Secretary should be appointed in September.

“Doubt is part of all religion. All the religious thinkers were doubters.” – Isaac Bashevis Singer

“God made everything out of nothing, but the nothingness shows through.” – Paul Valery

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” – C. S. Lewis

“I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.” – Kahlil Gibran

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: The World Council of Churches remains intact with 349 global, regional and sub-regional, national and local churches included. Collectively, they represent 590 million people in 150 countries. There are 520,000 local congregations served by 493,000 pastors and priests represented by the group. Olav Fykse Tveit from the Church of Norway is the current General Secretary and took that post in 2010. There are seven Presidents from around the globe. Their tenth assembly is scheduled to take place from October 30 to November 8, 2013. It will be held in Busan, Republic of Korea and their theme is “God of life, lead us to justice and peace.” These gatherings provide a public platform as well as the opportunity for the churches to deepen their commitment to unity. Their profession of faith and devotion to study and prayer may inspire others around the world.

Also on this day: The Blue Planet – In 1966, the first pictures came back from the Moon.
Fannie Farmer – In 1902, Fannie Farmer opened her own cooking school.
French Wars of Religion – In 1532, the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacres begin.

The Temperature at Which Paper Burns

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 22, 2013
Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury

August 22, 1920: Ray Douglas Bradbury is born in Waukegan, Illinois. His father worked as a power and telephone lineman, but both his grandfather and great-grandfather were newspaper publishers. Ray’s family moved around, but kept returning to Waukegan, a setting he used for some of his own writing. The young child spent many hours amidst the books at Carnegie Library there. The family moved to Los Angeles when Ray was 13. He graduated from high school there but chose to continue his education in libraries rather than college.

He began selling newspapers and started to publish a few science fiction stories in fanzines in 1938. He was invited to attend the Clifton’s Cafeteria Science Fiction Club where he met many famous sci-fi writers of the time. He tried publishing his own fanzine in 1939 but it lasted only four issues before folding. He finally sold a story to a pulp magazine in 1941 – for $15. He made his first book sale in 1947, five years after becoming a full-time writer. He published The Martian Chronicles in 1950 and Fahrenheit 451 in 1953.

Bradbury has insisted few of his works are science fiction, but rather they are works of fantasy or speculative fiction. He also wrote poetry, was a playwright, and a creator of children’s literature. He wrote for television, both adaptations of his short stories and some original works. He wrote for Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. He produced audio versions of his written work and authored several non-fiction pieces, especially on the art of writing.

The Martian Chronicles was made into a 3-part miniseries in 1980 and starred Rock Hudson. Fahrenheit 451 was made into a full-length film in 1966. Julie Christie was nominated for a BAFTA award for her dual portrayal of Linda Montag and Clarisse. Bradbury himself has received various honors for his work, including having an asteroid named after him. He was upset with Michael Moore’s title, Fahrenheit 9/11 which alluded to his previous work. Although he requested that Moore change the title to his “documentary,” the request was ignored.

“First of all, I don’t write science fiction. I’ve only done one science fiction book and that’s Fahrenheit 451, based on reality. Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, it’s fantasy. It couldn’t happen, you see? That’s the reason it’s going to be around a long time—because it’s a Greek myth, and myths have staying power.”

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”

“Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.”

“I don’t try to describe the future. I try to prevent it.”

“The television, that insidious beast, that Medusa which freezes a billion people to stone every night, staring fixedly, that Siren which called and sang and promised so much and gave, after all, so little.” – all from Ray Bradbury

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update:  Some writers choose to portray a utopian world where all is pleasant and everyone is perfectly happy. The opposing position is writing about a world gone wrong in some important way. The resulting frightening or upsetting world is dystopian. These worlds can come about by totalitarianism or natural disasters. They may be the result of war or pestilence. There is some cataclysm that brings society as whole into ruin. Some of the more famous dystopian worlds are those portrayed in R.U.R. which created the term “robot” and was the first time machines took over the Earth. Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World show us horrific visions of government control gone overboard as does The Hunger Games. Fahrenheit 451 is another of the more noted books for this genre and probably the most horrific when one’s avocation includes the written word.

Also on this day: “Excuse My Dust” – In 1893, Dorothy Parker is born.
America’s Cup – In 1851, the first America’s Cup race is run.
Monsters – In 565, St. Columba turns away the Loch Ness Monster.