Showing posts with label History. Show all posts
Showing posts with label History. Show all posts

Friday, June 20, 2014

Why we call Football Soccer

Lionel Messi (Argentina) scores in opener of the World Cup
I don't know about you, but I have been enjoying the World Cup.  Soccer isn't a sport I usually watch, but this is a major event.  Everyone else in the world calls it Football or Futbol, but Americans and Canadians call it Soccer.  I thought I should find out.

Even in other languages, the sport is referred to in some variation of Football.  The Spanish for foot is not fut, but pie.  So the sport must have begun in the English speaking world.  In fact, the modern game began in England during the 1860's (The origin of football in England is quite ironic as they royally suck during the World Cup).  They called it football for the obvious reasons.  Actually, the real name is Association Football.  FIFA is the  Fédération Internationale de Football Association.  The association part was meant to distinguish the sport from Rugby Football.  So where does soccer come from?

Since the 1880's, Oxford students had a habit of adding -er to common words.  Bonners for bonefires, Congratters for congratulations, even Eccer for exercise, and my favorite Brekkers for breakfast.  People got the -er treatment as well - Beckers for David Beckham, Cammers for David Cameron and Britters for Britney Spears.  Apparently Oxford students are a bit pretentious.

Remember that football is officially called Association Football.  That was abbreviated Assoc. Football, which then received the Oxford -er.  The -er added to the end of Assoc-er and then dropped the first As- to become Soccer.  In fact, they started by spelling it socker to get the hard cc sound which does not appear in association.  So lets recap:


Association Football

Assoc. Football



The name soccer really comes from the 3rd, 4th, and 5th letters from association.  While incredibly convoluted, the name soccer actually makes a little bit of sense.  Not really.

Monday, June 16, 2014

History's Most Influential Person?

On Wikipedia, there is a rule that you can start at any innocent article and be fewer than 7 clicks away from Adolf Hitler.  The mass-murdering bastard played such an important role in the 20th century that eventually any object, place or person with a Wikipedia page is inevitably linked to him.  But is he the most influential person in history.  Clearly, the founders of modern religions have great influence on today's Wikipedia - Jesus, Abraham, Mohammad.  America's Founding Fathers must be important - Washington, Jefferson, Franklin.  But who tops the list?

Carolus Linnaeus: Most Influential Person
New Scientist featured an article about research by Young-Ho Eom, from France that attempted to answer just that.  He looked at Wikipedia links from 24 languages to determine the answer.  And at the top of the list sits:  Carolus Linnaeus!  The Swedish botanist that devised sciences modern system of species classification.  Any Wikipedia article about a living object must include its scientific name, and thus a link to Linnaeus.  That and of any person, Linnaeus has the most species named in his honor.  To round out the list of most influential people:
  1. Carolus Linnaeus
  2. Jesus
  3. Aristotle
  4. Napoleon
  5. Hitler
  6. Julius Caesar
  7. Plato
  8. Shakespeare
  9. Einstein
  10. Elizabeth II
Things were a little different in the English with Napoleon, Obama, and Linneaus taking the top three spots.  Interstingly, he also did a 2DRanking of Wikipedia that measures both incoming and outgoing links.  In this case, the extra layer produced this global result:
  1. Hitler
  2. Michael Jackson
  3. Madonna
  4. Jesus
  5. Beethoven
  6. Mozart
  7. Pope Benedict XVI
  8. Alexander the Great
  9. Charles Darwin
  10. Barack Obama
Again, the English version differed with Sinatra, Jackson, Pope Pius XII leading the way.  Does this prove anything?  Probably not.  But it always makes for a great debate!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Changing How We Die

Over 110 years, medicine took huge strides to treat the major illnesses of the day.  A look at the major causes of death in the years 1900 and 2010 tell that story.

Infectious diseases ruled the world as the major cause of death.  But antibiotics and vaccinations have decreased there power.  Instead, we now live in a world with a long life span and abundant food.  The longer people the more that cancer and heart disease increase.  Even those numbers have changed.  There is a reason that medical forms ask if anyone in your family died of a heart attack before the age of 50.  Not much could be done in the 70's and 80's.  Now, people with heart disease live into their 70's and 80's.  Much work remains in treating cancers, but new treatments appear promising.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Voter Literacy Test

Last week, the Supreme Court offered their opinions on several important cases.  While the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8 were voted down, the 1965 Voting Rights Act took a shocking hit.  Slate blogger, Rebecca Onion, published an interesting article in response to that decision.

First let's get some background.  After the Civil War, the former slaves were named citizens of this country.  With that citizenship, comes the right to vote (if you were male).  In order to get around that, the white population came up with interesting methods to prevent the black population from voting in elections.  Since most of the former slaves were poor, they instituted a poll tax.  Since many of the new citizens couldn't read, they created citizenship or literacy tests.  These methods disenfranchised many citizens of their constitutional right to vote.  Also, this was most likely to happen in the South.

Part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act looked more closely at the states and counties that had used these methods in the past.  If Alabama wanted to change an election law, they required pre-approval from the Department of Justice.  Alabama didn't like that and took their case to the Supreme Court and won.  Essentially, the Court said that states and counties should not be punished today for their historical crimes.  I would agree with that in principle, except that almost every state affected immediately came out to say how they were going to change their voting procedures.  And most of those changes disproportionately affect blacks, hispanics, and poor people.  Things really haven't changed as much as they think it has.

Anyway, back to the Slate article which takes us back to Louisiana before 1965.  She provided a full example of the Literacy Test that everyone had to take before they could vote.  It is 30 tricky questions completed in 10 minutes, and you must get a 100.  I went to one of the best colleges in the country, but I had to read some of the questions two or three times to understand what they were asking.  If you made one mistake, determined by the white election official, then you were not allowed to vote.

I present to you, the first page of the test.  If you follow this link, then you can take a look at the rest of the questions.  Good luck, you're going to need it.  Maybe we all need it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Story of America and Other Stuff

Here's a few stories for Independence Day:

Several political leaders have made prominent mistakes about US History lately.  Jimmy Kimmel offered Michele Bachmann's Story of America on his show mocking the historical inaccuracies people have given us.

On a sad note, 25% of Americans are not sure who we declared independence from.  Half aren't even sure what year.  Maybe we shouldn't make so much fun of the politicians.  Just kidding.  If you base your platform on the Revolutionary War Era, then you should know the history of the period.

For the historically inclined, the website provided some of the questions that our kids failed recently.  This was the study that used Santorum claim that American Ignorance was a liberal plot to destroy the US.

No matter what side you are on, enjoy this holiday for ALL Americans!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Santorum Blames Liberals for Low History Scores

Rick Santorum is running for president.  Like a previous candidate I have mentioned, he has said many stupid things.  If you don't know who he is, I beg of you NOT to google him.  You will not like the results (No seriously, don't do it).  Anyways, this stupid comment concerns education so I thought that I would mention it on here.

When talking about the recent study which found that US students don't actually know American history, Santorum used the opportunity to blame liberals.  He called the poor scores on a survey the results of a "conscious effort on the part of the left ... to desensitize America to what American values are."  In this he inserts two ways of blaming the left.
  1. We purposefully teach your children the wrong information.  Apparently, liberals have a huge impact on the curriculum and use it to screw up education.  This assumes a conspiracy of all teachers (in this case, history teachers) to agree to an alternative history which may or may not have happened just so kids would do badly on a survey.  Actually that does seem to be happening, but from the other side.  Conservatives frequently reconstruct history to suit their ideological agenda.  Take for example the Texas Board of Education or Sarah Palin's recent Paul Revere statement.  David Barton makes lots of money creating history to pander to conservative Christians.
  2. We want to impose our own anti-American values on your kids.  The real reason the evil liberals screw up education is to indoctrinate children with the ideas of equality, peace, and etc.  We must teach an alternative history to support our agenda for social purposes.  Actually, this is happening too.  Conservatives use their altered histories as excuse to institute their theocratic objectives.  According to their history, the United States was founded by Jesus for the True Christians.
I am sure that there are plenty of examples of liberals making mistakes about history, but I don't seem them attempting to make public policy based on their factual errors.  Truthfully, we are all to blame for our children's education.  Only offering lip service to making schools better, we make no effort to fund education or actually improve anything.  Education should be the issue that brings both sides together (just as it brought Newt Gingrich and Al Sharpton).

Santorum took a cheap shot at his percieved enemy, the liberals, and opened the door for people to mock how members of his party have screwed up historical facts.  At some point we should be able to agree on reality, as historical and scientific facts don't have a partisan point of view.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Constitution and Creationism

Lauri Lebo lets us know that David Barton has said something silly again.  Barton makes a name for himself by knowing the exact thoughts of each Founding Father and their intentions for the radical experiment in democracy known as The United States.  Conveniently, the Founding Fathers unanimously agreed with everything he believes ideologically and even theologically.  It seems strange considering that the drafting of the Declaration and the framing of Constitution took place under serious debate and compromise including men of various religions and political identities.  But then again, Barton has said "that Jesus opposed the minimum wage or that the bible takes a stand against net neutrality."

Now Barton has discovered that the Founding Fathers had discovered, decided and dismissed evolution and preferred that creationism be taught in our schools.  Check out the video:

So according to David Barton, the Founding Fathers discussed evolution about 70 years before Charles Darwin introduced the idea and described the mechanism of natural selection in his book, On the Origin of Species.  And they decided that creationism should be taught in our public schools which that predicted Horace Mann would begin in the 1830's.  

This would just be funny if so many people didn't listen to and agree with such babble.  Any person who gives this a quick thought would understand how ridiculous it is.  Barton shows us he does not understand history, religion, law or science.  Each of which he claims to be an expert for.  I wish that I could knowingly lie to people just to take their money.  History and science are so much easier when you can just make stuff up.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

HS Students Show Up Congresswoman

Minnesota's Republican Congresswoman, Michele Bachmann, hopes to become the next President of the United States.  While she has said some fairly ridiculous things, at least two people have decided to stand up to her and they are both high school students!  That's right!  High school students have taken it upon themselves to challenge the presidential hopeful and congresswoman.

A high school student from New Jersey, Amy Myers, has challenged Michelle Bachmann to a debate about the US Constitution and American History.  In a letter to the Congresswoman, Amy wrote, 
As a typical high school student, I have found quite a few of your statements regarding the Constitution of the United States, the quality of public school education and general U.S. civics matters to be factually incorrect, inaccurately applied or grossly distorted.
Burn! We all know that the Congresswoman would not participate in the debate, because she could not possibly win. The image of her debating a 16-year-old would ruin her career. I think the awesome thing is that this student has decided to take a stand. The sad news is that Bachmann supporters have started attacking Amy Myers throughout the internet. You know, keeping it classy.

In a more recent story, Zack Kopplin has also challenged the congresswoman on her understanding of evolution.  Zack is the high school lstudent from Louisianna leading a campaign to repeal their Intelligent Design education law.  He showed up on Hard Ball to discuss his efforts.  Bachmann became involved because of this statement:  "There is a controversy among scientists about whether evolution is a fact ... hundreds and hundreds of scientists, many of them holding Nobel prizes, believe in intelligent design."  Among others, Kopplin has called Bachmann on this falsehood and asked for her to present a list of Nobel Lauretes that support creationism.  Kopplin actually got 43 to sign a petition with him, still no word from Bachmann.  To top off the the challenge, Kopplin makes the best statement that presidential candidates don't get to just make stuff up.  

These students keep me hopeful for the future and I say Bravo!  Check out the video!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Gettysburg Address

Here is a cool video I Stumbled Upon.  A visual interpretation of the Gettysburg Address.  Not much you can say about one of the most powerful speeches in US history.


Gettysburg Address from Adam Gault on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ranking the Important Experiments

William Harris compiled a list of the 10 Science Experiments that changed the world.  Some simple experiments alter our understanding of reality and lead us to our theories to describe nature.  So I will join in this salute of the experiment by providing his list (Top 10)  and completing a top 25.  For more details check out Harris' list at Curiosity Online through the Discovery Channel

  1. Stanley Milgram's experiments in obedience provided some shocking results (psychology).
  2. Ivan Pavlov trains his dog to salivate at the sound of a bell (classical conditioning).
  3. Marie Curie leaves uranium on a photographic plate (radioactivity).
  4. A.A. Michelson devises a method of calculating the speed of light (quantum mechanics).
  5. Stanley Miller and Harold Urey simulate the conditions of early Earth in a lab (abiogenesis).
  6. Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin maps the 3-D structure of penicillin (x-ray crystallography).
  7. Ernest Rutherford fires alpha particles through gold foil and some bounce back (atomic nucleus).
  8. Edward Jenner defeats small pox (vaccination).
  9. Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase infect bacteria with radioactive viruses (DNA).
  10. Charles Darwin inspects the relationship between orchids and their pollinators (natural selection).
  11. Gregor Mendel studies pea plants (genetics).
  12. Oswald Avery narrows down the genetic material (DNA).
  13. Henry Cavendish calculates the Gravitational Constant (G).
  14. Isaac Newton unlocks the secret of the prism (light).
  15. Thomas Hunt Morgan mutates fruit flies (chromosomes).
  16. Robert Hooke looks at cork under a microscope (cells).
  17. Louis Pasteur boils some broth (biogenesis).
  18. Galileo drops a ball and disproves Aristotle (acceleration of gravity).
  19. Barbara McClintock finds jumping genes (transposons).
  20. Thomas Young passes light through a double slit test (light).
  21. Enrico Fermi splits the atom (nuclear physics).
  22. BF Skinner puts the pigeons in a box (operant conditioning).
  23. Philip Zimbardo puts college kids in a prison with college guards in Stanford (psychology)
  24. J.J. Thomson builds a cathode ray tube (electrons).
  25. Hans Speilman clones a salamander by dividing an embryo (embryology).
I will admit that my list may be biased towards biology and physics because I am teaching those subjects right now.  You can leave your favorite experiments in the comments section.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The History of Cannibis

Showtime has a show called Weeds.  They made this informative video about the history of weed, which is pretty interesting.  We should have an adult discussion about the prohibition of marijuana in the United States and elsewhere.  But we can't.  One side looks down on the other as stoner losers and the other just wants to eat Doritos.  Just kidding.  This past mid-term election, California had another proposition to legalize possession of marijuana.  It failed, but interestingly very few politicians mentioned the proposition.  We fear the debate because of stereotypes and misinformation.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The History of the World?!?

This funny video covers the history of the world in just under 7 minutes.  It gets just about everything wrong, but I am thinking that they did that on purpose.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Last 1000 Years of European History

I saw this awesome video which shows the changes to the European Map over the last 10 centuries.  It shows how empires have risen, conquered and fallen.  You can follow some of the major moments in history and see how things changed.  See if you can pick out the fall of the Roman Empire, the rise of Napoleon, World War I, World War II, and the Cold War.  Only down side is that it lacks any dates.
History buffs will enjoy this one.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Pope - The Nazis - The Atheists

The Pope flew into England this past week and dusted up a storm of controversy.  Upon landing, His Holiness spoke to a gathered crowd and proceeded to blame atheists and secularists for Nazis and the other atrocities of the 20th century.  
Even in our own lifetime, we can recall how Britain and her leaders stood against a Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society and denied our common humanity to many, especially the Jews, who were thought unfit to live,
We have seen this before- anti-evolutionists love to link Darwin's Natural Selection with Hitler's Holocaust.  While I disagree with the atheistic position on God, we don't have to blame them for all of the evil in the world, especially when ample evidence exists of Hitler's use of religious language to encourage the deaths of millions of people.

PZ Meyers provided a list of books banned by the Third Reich.  Included in the list: books about evolution and naturalism and books that criticized religion.  Over and over, Hitler emphasized his version of Christianity to justify anti-Semitism- never did he use atheism as an excuse for his atrocities.

Perhaps the most stinging retort of the Pope comes from Richard Dawkins, the famous British Atheist and Scientist.  His speech criticizes the Popes statement on the historical front and the PR front.  He challenges that the Pope chose to attack secularists to divert attention from the sex abuse scandals and other Church problems.

Here is Dawkins at Protest the Pope (below the fold):

Even with all of this evidence against the Pope's absurd position, how can you blame a modern group of people for the past or blame an entire population for the actions of an extremist minority.  We should not blame all Christians for the actions of some Germans, just like we should blame all Muslims for the actions of Al Queda.