Sunday, June 10, 2012


So you've certainly noticed by now that I haven't posted anything in nearly a year. That's probably because I've completely forgotten about these blogs.

I should have posted a note like this earlier, but I kept putting it off. I'm no longer updating the blogs. I won't be even in the foreseeable future.

I will however leave the blogs as they are. The links all still work and the navigation bar on the right side still links between the blogs. It'll be open for however long Blogger keeps it up, and available for you all to read.

I may come back to it. I may not. I did enjoy doing it for a while, but then it started to feel like a second job and drained the fun out of it.

Enjoy yourselves and thanks for reading.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

August 28, 2011 : Caletch Pranks Rose Bowl

The Great Rose Bowl Hoax was a prank at the 1961 Rose Bowl, an annual American college football bowl game. That year, the Washington Huskies were pitted against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. At halftime, the Huskies led 17 to 0, and their cheerleaders took the field to lead the attendees in the stands in a card stunt, a routine involving flip-cards depicting various images for the audience to raise. However, a number of students from the California Institute of Technology managed to alter the card stunt shown during the halftime break, culminating in the display of the word "CALTECH," a common nickname for the Institute.

The prank received national attention, as the game was broadcast to an estimated 30 million viewers across the United States by NBC. One author wrote, "Few college pranks can be said to be more grandly conceived, carefully planned, flawlessly executed, and publicly dramatic" than the Great Rose Bowl Hoax.

The hoax was planned by a group of Caltech students, subsequently known as the "Fiendish Fourteen," in December 1960. Their leader was 19-year old engineering student Lyn Hardy. They felt that their college, whose teams often played in Rose Bowl Stadium a few miles from campus, was ignored up to and during the Rose Bowl Game. The students decided to use Washington's flip-card show to garner some attention.

At halftime on January 2, the Washington card stunt was executed as the Caltech students had hoped. NBC cameras panned to the section raising the flip-cards as they uneventfully displayed the first eleven designs.

The twelfth design modified the design of a husky into that of a beaver (Caltech's mascot) but was subtle enough that the audience did not notice.

The thirteenth design, which called for the depiction of the word "Washington" in script to gradually appear from left to right (starting with the capital "W"), ran backwards (with the small letter "n" appearing first). Other sources say that the routine intended to spell out, "HUSKIES," but that it had been altered to spell out "SEIKSUH." Regardless, it was dismissed as a simple mistake.

The fourteenth design, however, was an unmistakable prank. "CALTECH" was displayed in big block letters on a white background.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

August 21, 2011 : Great Stork Derby

The Great Stork Derby was a contest during the period from 1926 to 1936, where women in Toronto, Canada, competed to produce the most babies in order to qualify for an unusual bequest in a will.

The race was the product of a scheme by Toronto lawyer, financier and practical joker Charles Vance Millar, who bequeathed the residue of his significant estate to the woman in Toronto who could produce the most children in a ten year period after his death. The winning mothers were Annie Katherine Smith, Kathleen Ellen Nagle, Lucy Alice Timleck and Isabel Mary Maclean. Each of them received $125,000 for their nine children. Two others each received $12,500 out of court: Lillian Kenny (ten children, but two stillborn) and Pauline Mae Clarke (ten children - five set of twins, but several illegitimate). Some of the estate was also paid to the Toronto Welfare Department.

A Canadian-made television movie was released in 2002 entitled "The Stork Derby," depicting the stories of Lillian Kenny, Pauline Mae Clarke and Grace Bagnato. Bagnato was disqualified by the court for being married to an illegal Italian immigrant, in addition to not being able to show birth registration documents for several of her children (23 children total – 12 living, 9 born in the duration of the ten years that the contest lasted). The movie is based on Elizabeth Wilton's book "Bearing The Burden: The Great Toronto Stork Derby 1926 - 1938."


Sunday, August 14, 2011

August 14, 2011 : United States Exploring Expedition

The United States Exploring Expedition was an exploring and surveying expedition of the Pacific Ocean and surrounding lands conducted by the United States from 1838 to 1842. The original appointed commanding officer was Commodore Thomas ap Catesby Jones. The voyage was authorized by Congress in 1836. It is sometimes called the "
U.S. Ex. Ex." for short, or the "Wilkes Expedition" in honor of its next appointed commanding officer, United States Navy Lieutenant Charles Wilkes. The expedition was of major importance to the growth of science in the United States, in particular the then-young field of oceanography. During the event, armed conflict between Pacific islanders and the expedition was not uncommon and dozens of natives were killed in action, as well as a few Americans.

In May, 1828, the United States Congress, after prodding by President John Quincy Adams, voted to send an expedition around the world with the understanding that the country would derive great benefit. It was to promote commerce and to offer protection to the heavy investment in the whaling and seal hunting industries, chiefly in the Pacific Ocean. Congress also agreed that a
public ship or ships should be used. At the time, the only ships owned by the government capable of such a circumnavigation were those of the navy. So, in fact, Congress had decided that a naval expedition be authorized.

Personnel included naturalists, botanists, a mineralogist, taxidermists and a philologist, and was carried by the sloops-of-war USS 
Vincennes , of 780 tons, and USS Peacock of 650 tons, the brig USS Porpoise , of 230 tons, the full-rigged ship Relief, which served as a store-ship, and two schooners, Sea Gull, of 110 tons and USS Flying Fish of 96 tons which served as tenders.

The Wilkes Expedition played a major role in development of 19th-century science, particularly in the growth of the American scientific establishment. Many of the species and other items found by the expedition helped form the basis of collections at the new Smithsonian Institution.

With the help of the expedition's scientists, derisively called "clam diggers" and "
bug catchers" by navy crewmembers, 280 islands, mostly in the Pacific, were explored, and over 800 miles of Oregon were mapped. Of no less importance, over 60,000 plant and bird specimens were collected. A staggering amount of data and specimens were collected during the expedition, including the seeds of 648 species, which were later traded, planted, and sent throughout the country. Dried specimens were sent to the National Herbarium, now a part of the Smithsonian Institution. There were also 254 live plants, which mostly came from the home stretch of the journey, that were placed in a newly constructed greenhouse in 1850, which later became the United States Botanic Garden.

Alfred Thomas Agate, engraver and illustrator, created an enduring record of traditional cultures such as the illustrations made of the dress and tattoo patterns of natives of the Ellice Islands (now Tuvalu).

A collection of artifacts from the expedition also went to the National Institute for the Promotion of Science, a precursor of the Smithsonian Institution. These joined artifacts from American history as the first artifacts in the Smithsonian collection.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

August 7, 2011 : Assassination Attempt on Teddy Roosevelt

Assassination Attempt on Teddy Roosevelt

Before a campaign speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on October 14, 1912, Theodore Roosevelt, the presidential candidate for the Progressive Party, is shot at close range by saloonkeeper John Schrank while greeting the public in front of the Gilpatrick Hotel. Schrank's .32-caliber bullet, aimed directly at Roosevelt's heart, failed to mortally wound the former president because its force was slowed by a glasses case and a bundle of manuscript in the breast pocket of Roosevelt's heavy coat--a manuscript containing Roosevelt's evening speech. Schrank was immediately detained and reportedly offered as his motive that "any man looking for a third term ought to be shot."

Roosevelt, who suffered only a flesh wound from the attack, went on to deliver his scheduled speech with the bullet still in his body. After a few words, the former  "Rough Rider " pulled the torn and bloodstained manuscript from his breast pocket and declared, "You see, it takes more than one bullet to kill a Bull Moose". He spoke for nearly an hour and then was rushed to the hospital.

Despite his vigorous campaign, Roosevelt, who served as the 26th U.S. president from 1901 to 1909, was defeated by Democrat Woodrow Wilson in November. Shrank was deemed insane and committed to a mental hospital, where he died in 1943.