History Sunday: Television

Entertainment technology has come an awful long way; the printing press, to the radio, to television, to the internet, every step has made massive progress, and improved on what was made before. This week, in History Sunday, we will be focusing on the development of television.

Back in the early 20th century, box theater was incredible popular; people behind large boxes, with a big hole in the front so that viewers could see in. People liked to watch the constricted area- people want borders. So, naturally, box theaters fulfill these needs.

Due to the small size of most boxes, however, the medium was not suited for large audiences; not many people could see into the box at once. So, wealthy individuals wanted to have their own box theaters, with on-demand entertainment. This worked wonderfully, but the price of owning one of these theaters (and hiring the actors) was tremendous.

Poor and middle-class citizens wanted in. How could they afford such a thing, though? Well, television was shortly introduced, so that these average folks could enjoy this wonderful theater. Rich people were upset, however- they didn’t want equality, so they lobbied to have television only made in black and white. Eventually, this was repealed, much to the chagrin of the wealthy. Box theater, on the other hand, is now fairly unpopular, due to the association with productions by children that the medium has.

History Sunday: The Bench Revolution

War is a terrible thing. It can lead people to do horrible, unspeakable acts, like killing people, burning homes, and trying new types of food that look unpleasant but might actually be pretty good. Most wars are bloody and violent, but there is at least one war that wasn’t bloody at all; The Seating War (It was, however, very violent).

The Seating War was a violent battle between the Sofites and the Chairites; these two combatants were very adamant about the types of seating that they used, and couldn’t let the other win. The Sofites loved only soft couches, and the Chairites believed in beautiful wooden chairs. Both parties believed that their way was the only way that could be correct. The Sofites claimed this was their goal:

“We want to end the tyranny of narrow seating, and sometimes hard, wooden bottom-places. We are tired of the Chairites, oppressing our behinds! Let us be liberated!”

On the other hand, the Chairites felt differently:

“There is a constant need for support; a firm seat is all that one needs! We need no seats that sag under constant pressure, but a true seat for one, for an autonomous nation!”

In the end, the two races organized a sit-off. Their armies sat in their respective pieces of furniture, in a competition to see who could sit there the longest. This sit-off went on for five long years, with soldiers growing weak with lack of exercise.

Eventually, one soldier broke the silence. No one is sure if he was a Sofite, a Chairite, or even a third party Chairdeskian (favoring attached chairs and desks), but he was so angry that he went to one side, and kicked the back off of the seat of one member of that army. Chaos ensued; many couches and chairs were de-backed, and broken that day.

When all was said and done, however, no one was hurt, and both races of people were left with brand new types of seating. The Sofites had found their couches made into benches, and the Chairites now had the ever-popular stool. While war is dangerous and barbaric, some good can, in fact, come of it.

History Sunday: The World’s First Flying Machine

Flight is a powerful tool; since its development, human beings can travel at great speeds, and do things they never could before. Just to name a few, now humans can skydive, skyswim, skywaterski, and pretty much transfer normal water activities to the air (Although skyfishing has been developed, currently it is illegal, as there are no provisions for skyfishing licenses in state legislature). It is such an incredible asset, that one can’t help but wonder, when was it invented? And, by whom?

Most people are well aware that President Grover Cleveland invented the airplane, helping with publicity, and leading him to win his campaign. This is why planes dragging banners are said to be “Flying Clevelands,” and the initials “GC” are engraved on the tails of most small aircraft. It is, however, incorrect to assume that Grover Cleveland was the originator of human flight; in fact, flight had been around for several hundred years prior. The curiosity, therefore, doesn’t end there; one needs only read the popular “What I Had For Lunch” articles written by Cleveland himself to have more insight:

“Although I must admit, the mustard was dry, I still found the sandwich to be pleasing; it was, however, large and messy, and I could not eat it whilst piloting my skyboat.”

So, it would seem that prior to the airplane, there already was a flying machine: A skyboat. This is both eye-opening, and puzzling; of course, the usage of air as water in flight is easily explained by airboating, but why don’t we use these boats anymore? And who invented them?

Sadly, we don’t know the answers to either of these questions. All we know is, the person who invented it was Italian, lived in the renaissance, and had a name beginning with “Leo”, ending in “inci”, and having a “nardo da V” in the middle. Historians don’t think this is enough to go on to conclusively figure out a name.

History Sunday: The Big Bang

Once upon a time, there was a world where, in order to kill someone, you had to get very close to them; take your sword, look into their eyes, and end their life. This, of course, resulted in a lot less deaths by violence. Thankfully, those days are long past; now, you can kill people from huge distances, with very minimal feelings of guilt. So, it’s worth looking into where this all came from; the first invention of gunpowder. Where, when, and why, was gunpowder invented?

Most people think that gunpowder is a very ancient invention, created long ago in China. In actuality, this is untrue; specialists believe that gunpowder is only a little bit ancient, and was created in Spain, by Miguel De Encurtidos (in this case, “a little bit ancient” is approximately 40 years old; the Vietnam War was the first war fought with guns). Encurtidos was a food salesman, looking to preserve his vegetables effectively. He wrote about his attempts to find good pickling chemicals in his book, “Preservation, Pickling, and Explosives: The Life of an Awesome Person Named Me”:

“Typically, salts were used, or in extreme cases, pure, 100% Belgian sawdust; these were effective, but I wanted something better, to keep things longer, and with better taste; less woody. So, I set out to invent.”

In his studies, trials, and many failures, Encurtidos discovered numerous impressive chemicals, and unintentionally invented the wedding cake topper (warranting his face being printed on American currency, despite being a Spaniard). Eventually, however, he found something special; an explosive powder, usable to preserve cucumbers. To this day, sticks of dynamite are just rare, red cucumbers, preserved with gunpowder.

February 28th is Encurtidos day, so remember to bring out the traditional scarves, hats, oxtail soup, and broccoli florets. It is an extremely popular holiday among pickle fans and gun enthusiasts alike.

History Sunday: The Even Missing-er Link

Evolution. It brought us to where we are today. And as we know, we evolved from apes, which probably evolved from monkeys, which probably evolved from squirrel-like mammals, which probably evolved from furry plants, which probably evolved from protozoa, which probably, in turn, evolved from the internet, and were sent back in time to prevent history from not happening. That’s a lot of steps, but the important one is the step between ape and man.

Scientists have had difficulty in locating that one step between an ape and a man, the one that fully connects us together. The reason that bones, or other pieces of evidence of this “missing link” are so hard to find, is because of the missing link’s curious nature; it was invisible.

Now, humans evolved from apes, but most scientists believe that apes still exist. We diverged from them, leaving a second species behind, while we progressed. As far as we know (although we can never be sure, due to the ability that these creatures have), these invisible humanoids no longer exist. Why did these creatures go extinct? We talked with evolutionary biologist Dr. Victor Fremmuns about the possible reason:

“Strangely, the evidence is found in lingering human traits. For instance, when a child covers his eyes so he can’t see, he assumes he also cannot be seen. This is a leftover instinct, as these primates became invisible by covering, or at least closing, their eyes. Therefore, we think they eventually went extinct by running off of cliffs, effectively blindfolded.”

Fremmuns believes that being invisible was actually a genetic weakness, and we, thankfully, disposed of it. Other scientists disagree, stating their reasons as “Invisibility is awesome” and “Just look at the Fantastic Four and tell me that isn’t cool.”

While we do not have any special powers anymore, we do still have some vestigial proof to support this; the appendix, long thought to be useless, seems to be a defective generator of deceptons, the trickster particle that causes things like invisibility to occur. If deceptons escape from the human body, they will also do things like move keys, make noises in empty houses, put sleeping hands into warm water, and put saran wrap over toilet seats. Currently, researchers trying to harness these deceptons are having little luck, but are finding a very high density at middle school slumber parties.

History Sunday: A Herbertologist Remembered

This week, we had a great loss in the world of science; Clancy Sorbet, an amateur researcher, road scholar, and eventually, professor. Sorbet was a socioetymologist, which is a rare science category that focuses on the behavior of people as it correlates to their name. Specifically, Sorbet made a huge leap in research regarding people named Herbert.

Sorbet was born in 1915, a year in which Herbert was a common boys name (alongside William, John, and Murphitzniklaus). He grew up alongside many boys named Herbert, and became curious as to their similarities, as well as their differences. Most of these observations were noted in his 1957 journal, titled “The Importance of Being Herbert.” Here is a passage:

“Donald and Donald seem to be very similar in some ways, ways that I speculate are correlated to a “name gene.” For example, they both have similar facial features: they both have noses, mouths, eyes, etc. I found this amazing, and somewhat surprising.”

(This passage may seem confusing, but Sorbet changed the names as an ethical concern. He never realized that the title did somewhat give it away, and generally the last name is more important to protect.)

We contacted the esteemed Dr. Murphitzniklaus Smith regarding his teacher’s death. This is what he had to say:

“Professor Sorbet was a huge influence; he was one of the first scientists to study common names. If he hadn’t moved into that unexplored territory, why, no one would ever have researched a common name like my own. I would have had insight into my rare last name, but it’s better to have both.”

We would like to conclude by saying that Clancy Sorbet will live on eternally, and carry his legacy forward. However, the name Herbert went extinct in 2002, and now it is illegal to use it, so his work is absolutely worthless. That being said, without Clancy Sorbet, we wouldn’t have nearly as much precious useless information, which is now being sold at a hefty price tag, inflated by trivia game show demand.

History Sunday: A “Fruitful” Discovery

Benjamin Peary, in the time of the American Revolution, was pretty much unimportant. An apple farmer, he did not go to war, instead growing apples of a fairly miserable quality. After the war, apple sales went way down for Peary, as his apples were fantastically terrible. George Washington was quoted as saying “I would rather eat a clod of dirt than a Peary apple,” and as we know, he could not tell a lie.

Because of the dismal reaction to his apples, Peary decided to take action. In 1787, he took two of his best apples, cut them in half, stuck them together with a heavy-duty paste, and planted them in the ground, hoping to gain a hybrid apple out of this process. As we know now, this is ridiculous; when you plant two halves of apples in the ground, especially with cow-hoof glue, you get a pear. But, at the time, this was not a known fact. So, in a few years, expecting the greatest apples, Benjamin Peary instead invented the first pear. He immediately named it after himself: The Peary-Fruit.

Henry David Thoreau, the famous poet and nature lover, had this to say about this fruit in 1853:

Oh what wondrous splendor lies,

Inside this fruit, before my eyes,

A stranger shape I’ve never seen,

With small brown spots on back of green,

Beneath this tree, atop a root,

I sit, enjoying a Pear

It does seem, because of the lack of rhyme, that he meant to refer to it as a Peary-Fruit, but paper was expensive in those days, and in the original document, the word “Pear” goes right to the end of the page. Historians assume that he ran out of paper, and for whatever reason, published the poem regardless to his error. This popularized the little-known fruit, and gave it it’s new name.

Through many changes, however, one thing remains constant; the pear has always been uniquely American, from it’s invention in 1787, to it’s name change and popularization in 1853, to the present day. Now, the national fruit is a pear, and a pear is featured on every piece of American currency.