Thursday, June 26, 2008

10 Foods Named After People

1. The Oh Henry! candy bar has at least three stories behind the name. I’ll let you pick your favorite. The first is that it was named after a boy who frequented the Williamson Candy Company quite often to flirt with the girls who worked there. Therefore, “Oh Henry!” would be kind of an exasperated, coy exclamation. Story #2 is that Henry was a young man who was often called to do odd jobs around the Williamson Company, which would make “Oh Henry!” a call for help. Finally, consider that the bar was invented by one Tom Henry. Makes more sense to me that the bar was probably named after him, although I like the flirting story the best.

2. Salisbury steak was invented by Dr. James H. Salisbury. He thought that fruits and veggies were bad for humans and caused heart disease, tumors, mental illness, tuberculosis and all kinds of horrible ailments. He invented the Salisbury steak (which is really just hamburger steak) to convince people to change their diet to mostly meat.

3. Crepes Suzette has quite the tale behind it. In 1896, Edward VII, Prince of Wales, was eating at the Café de Paris in Monte Carlo. He ordered a special dessert and was pleased when the waiter brought out a flaming dish. When the dessert was dedicated to him, the Prince declined and asked if the dish could be named after his dining companion, Suzette. Some sources dispute this story, though, so take it with an ounce of Grand Marnier.

4. Beef Wellington was named after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. Wellington boots (”Wellies”) were also named after him. The story is either that it was his favorite dish, or that chefs could dump whatever crap they wanted to in a bowl and cover it with pastry and he would eat it. I’m more inclined to believe the latter – other accounts of the Duke say that he had no interest in creature comforts whatsoever and would repeatedly eat “cold meat” and bread for breakfast.

5. Eggs Benedict is another one with multiple stories (I guess maybe they all are). Story #1 - In 1894, a stockbroker by the last name of Benedict visited the Waldorf hotel in New York with a hangover one morning. He asked for toast, bacon and poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce on the side, believing it to be the perfect remedy to his drink-induced illness. The Waldorf decided to keep it on the menu, but changed a few ingredients a bit. Story #2 – The head chef at Delmonico’s created the dish for socialite Mrs. LeGrand Benedict in 1893. I like the hangover story best.

6. Clementines – those delicious, juicy little orange-like fruits – were named after a French monk who was living in North Africa. Père Clément Rodier either found or created the hybrid of the Mandarin and Seville oranges to create Clementines.

7. Bananas Foster calls its (their?) hometown New Orleans. Famed restaurant Brennan’s created the delicious dish for Richard Foster, a friend of owner Owen Brennan and also the chairman of the New Orleans Crime Commission.

8. Kaiser rolls have been around for a long time – they were created sometime around 1487, when a Viennese baker stamped the image of either Frederick III or Franz Josef on it.

9. Reuben sandwiches are soooo good. Definitely one of my favorites, so I have to thank Reuben Kulakofsky for (maybe) making it happen. Rumor has it he created it for his poker buddies at an Omaha hotel in the early 1920s. The dispute on this origin comes from Arnold Reuben, a New York restauranteer who said he created the sandwich in 1914 for an actress. The earliest known Reuben reference is from a 1937 men from the Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln, Neb., so I’d say Kulakofsky has a stronger claim.

10. The Cobb salad was invented by Hollywood Brown Derby owner Robert Cobb when he was asked to make a late-night snack for Sid Grauman of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. He found some leftovers, chopped up the ingredients very finely and served it up. It became a hit across the town and the Cobb salad legend grew.

Facts About the Men of the Battle of the Little Bighorn

1. George Armstrong Custer had almost as many nicknames as George W. Bush. When he was young, his family called him Armstrong and Autie, which came about when a young Custer tried to pronounce his middle name. Later in life, his troops called him Curley and Jack. Jack was actually because of his initials, G.A.C., which were emblazoned on his satchel. Finally, the Plains Indians called him Yellow Hair and Son of the Morning Star. I bet they had some other choice nicknames for him as well.

2. Somewhat bizarrely, Crazy Horse’s nickname was Curly, too. He was born with the name “In the Wilderness” or “Among the Trees” but eventually took on his father’s name, Crazy Horse. People called him Curly because he had his mother’s (Rattling Blanket Woman) light, curly hair.

3. Custer liked to wear cinnamon-scented oil in his hair.

4. Custer may have had a son with Mo-nah-se-tah, the daughter of Cheyenne chief Little Rock. She had her first child in January 1869, a couple of months after Custer’s 7th Cavalry killed her father in battle and took 53 Cheyenne women and children captive. She had her second child late in 1869 - this is the child speculated to be Custer’s.

5. By all accounts, the battle with Custer’s Battalion lasted less than an hour. In fact, some evidence shows that it was less than HALF an hour. Which makes sense, considering that the 7th Cavalry was really outnumbered. No exact numbers have ever been determined, but it could have been as high as 9:1.

6. Not only did Custer die, two of his brothers, his brother-in-law and his nephew were also killed.

7. Lakota Chief Sitting Bull had a premonition that they would prevail over the 7th Cavalry.

8. The 7th Cavalry broke up into pieces during the attack, which included battalions led by Custer, Frederick Benteen and Marcus Reno. Reno went to West Point, where his best friend was none other than James Whistler. On a test, Whistler wrote that silicon was a gas. Many years later, Whistler told Reno that if he had gotten that question right on the test, then he would have stayed in the Army and been a general. Reno’s response? “Then no one would have ever heard of Whistler’s mother.” Some of Reno’s friends say this is the only joke he ever made.

9. Sitting Bull traveled with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show for a few months in 1885. During that time, he nicknamed Annie Oakley “Watanya Cicillia” - “Little Sure Shot”. He asked to adopt Annie after seeing her shoot the ace of hearts out of a card at 30 paces.

10. Black Elk, a famous Sioux Medicine Man, said he acquired his first gun at the Battle of the Little Bighorn when he took it from a dead trooper. Black Elk was one of Crazy Horse’s cousins and took the name Nicholas Black Elk later in life when he and his family converted to Catholicism.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The World War II Effect

On the eve of World War II, across the South, many African-Americans were still toiling as coerced laborers. Though states such as Georgia and Alabama no longer were leasing convicts to corporations, thousands of men still were forced to work for private enterprises. But now, the practice was mainly carried out through informal arrangements with city and county courts. Abusive sharecropping arrangements and the peonage system -- which allowed farmers to use bogus debts and the threat of violence to keep workers on their land indefinitely -- hung over millions of African-Americans.

Federal investigations into peonage, also known as debt slavery, were rare and ineffective. Although the antebellum version of slavery had been unconstitutional for decades, there still existed no federal statute that made holding slaves a punishable crime.

On Oct. 13, 1941, a man named Charles E. Bledsoe pleaded guilty in Alabama federal court to peonage. Mr. Bledsoe didn't resist the charge and trusted that officials wouldn't deal harshly with a white. He was correct. His penalty was a fine of $100 and six months of probation.

Less than two months later, Imperial Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Caught unprepared for war, U.S. officials frantically planned for a massive national mobilization and a crash propaganda effort. President Franklin D. Roosevelt expressed to advisors his worry that the mistreatment of blacks would be used in propaganda by Japan and Germany to undercut support for the war by African-Americans.

Attorney General Francis Biddle shared the president's concerns with his top assistants. Mr. Biddle was informed that federal policy had long been to cede virtually all allegations of slavery to local jurisdiction -- effectively guaranteeing they would never be prosecuted. Mr. Biddle, who hailed from an elite Northern family in Philadelphia, was shocked.

Mr. Biddle said that in an all-out war, in which millions of African-Americans would be called upon to serve, the U.S. government needed to take a stand: Those who continued to practice any form of slavery, in violation of 1865's Thirteenth Amendment, had to be prosecuted as criminals.

Five days after the Japanese attack, on Dec. 12, 1941, Mr. Biddle issued a directive -- Circular No. 3591 -- to all federal prosecutors acknowledging the history of unwritten federal policy to ignore most reports of involuntary servitude.

He wrote: "It is the purpose of these instructions to direct the attention of the United States Attorneys to the possibilities of successful prosecutions stemming from alleged peonage complaints which have heretofore been considered inadequate to invoke federal prosecution."

The Justice Department recently had formed its Civil Rights Section, created primarily to investigate cases related to anti-organized-labor efforts. It began shifting its focus to discrimination and racial abuse -- issues more commonly associated with the term "civil rights" today.

Mr. Biddle wrote: "In the United States one cannot sell himself as a peon or slave -- the law is fixed and established to protect the weak-minded, the poor, the miserable. ...Any such sale or contract is positively null and void and the procuring and causing of such contract to be made violates [the] statutes."

He ordered all Department of Justice investigators to entirely drop reference to peonage in their written reports. Instead, they were to label every file "Involuntary Servitude and Slavery."

In August 1942, a letter from a 16-year-old black boy arrived at the Department of Justice alleging that Charles Bledsoe -- the Alabama man who had received a $100 fine for peonage -- still was holding members of the teen's family against their will. Despite Mr. Biddle's strong directive, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover initially saw no need to pursue the matter. The U.S. attorney in Mobile, Ala., Francis H. Inge, was similarly uninterested.

"No active investigation will be instituted," Mr. Hoover wrote to Assistant Attorney General Wendell Berge.

But seven months into World War II, with the nation anxious to mobilize every possible soldier and counter every thrust of Japan's and Germany's propaganda machines, Mr. Berge directed Mr. Hoover to look further.

"In accordance with the request of the Attorney General that we expedite cases related to Negro victims, it will be appreciated if this matter is given preference," Mr. Berge wrote in a terse letter ordering Mr. Inge into action.

"Enemy propagandists have used similar episodes in international broadcasts to the colored race, saying that the democracies are insincere and that the enemy is their friend," Mr. Berge continued. "There have been received from the President an instruction that lynching complaints shall be investigated as soon as possible; that the results of the investigation be made public in all instances, and the persons responsible for such lawless acts vigorously prosecuted. The Attorney General has requested that we expedite other cases related to Negro victims. Accordingly, you are requested to give the [Bledsoe] matter your immediate attention."

Mr. Biddle's civil-rights lawyers began to reassess the legal breadth of the constitutional amendments ending slavery, the Reconstruction-era statutes passed to enforce them and other largely forgotten laws, such as the antebellum Slave Kidnapping Act. That pre-Civil War measure made it illegal to capture or hold forced laborers in U.S. territory where slavery was prohibited.

As World War II progressed, the Department of Justice vigorously prosecuted U.S. Sugar Co. in Florida for forcing black men into its sugarcane fields. Sheriffs who colluded with the company were brought to trial.

Early in September 1942, a team of FBI agents, highway patrolmen and deputies descended on a remote farm near Beeville, Texas. There they arrested a white farmer, Alex Skrobarcek, and his adult daughter, Susie Skrobarcek.

The two initially were charged in a state court with maiming a mentally retarded black worker named Alfred Irving. But a month later, lawyers at the Department of Justice drew a federal indictment alleging that the pair had held Mr. Irving in slavery for at least four years. They were accused of repeatedly beating the man with whips, chains and ropes -- so much so that he was physically disfigured from the abuse.

Signaling the significance of the case, a special assistant to Mr. Biddle actively participated in prosecuting the trial. The defendants were found guilty and sentenced to prison. Federal officials made clear that the case was intended to send a message: The U.S. government was finally serious about ending involuntary servitude.

"The Skrobarczyk [sic] trial and its conclusion undoubtedly will be have given a decisive setback to the enemy propaganda machine...urging...negroes that their proper place in this conflict is with the yellow race," editorialized the Corpus Christi Times.

Two years later, President Truman's Committee on Civil Rights recommended bolstering the antislavery statute to plainly criminalize involuntary servitude. In 1948, the entire federal criminal code was dramatically rewritten, further clarifying such laws.

A Different Kind of Slavery

After Abolition, Forced
Labor Thrived in South;
Helping Rebuild Atlanta
At the center of a massive new real-estate development in Atlanta, an $18 million monument designed to honor 2,000 years of human achievement is nearing completion. When it opens this summer, a museum inside the Millennium Gate also will pay special tribute to the accomplishments and philanthropy of some of the founding families of modern Atlanta. Organizers say plans for the exhibit don't include one overlooked aspect of two of the city's post-Civil War leaders: the extensive use of thousands of forced black laborers. The builders of the 73-foot archway say the museum is too small to convey every aspect of the city's founders and that it's appropriate to focus on the positive aspects of these men. In this adaptation from his new book, "Slavery by Another Name," Douglas A. Blackmon, Atlanta bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, chronicles how companies owned by these two men used forced labor to help rebuild Atlanta -- a practice that was widespread through the South.

Millions of bricks used to make the sidewalks and streets of Atlanta's oldest neighborhoods -- many of them still in use today -- came from a factory owned by James W. English, the city's former mayor, and operated almost entirely with black forced laborers. Many had been convicted of frivolous or manufactured crimes and then leased by the city to Mr. English's company, Chattahoochee Brick Co.

Between the Emancipation Proclamation and the beginning of World War II, millions of African-Americans were compelled into or lived under the shadow of the South's new forms of coerced labor. Under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands were arbitrarily detained, hit with high fines and charged with the costs of their arrests. With no means to pay such debts, prisoners were sold into coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, railroad construction crews and plantations. Others were simply seized by southern landowners and pressed into years of involuntary servitude.

At the turn of the 20th century, at least 3,464 African-American men and 130 women lived in forced labor camps in Georgia, according to a 1905 report by the federal Commissioner of Labor.

Beginning in July 1908, a commission established by the Georgia Legislature convened a series of hearings into the state's system of leasing prisoners to private contractors. Meeting early every day and late into the night to escape the city's excruciating heat, the panel called more than 120 witnesses over three weeks to give testimony in the state Capitol's regal Room No. 16.

Accounts of Brutalities

Witness after witness -- ranging from former guards to legislators to freed slaves -- gave vivid accounts of the system's brutalities. Wraithlike men infected with tuberculosis were left to die on the floor of a storage shed at a farm near Milledgeville. Laborers who attempted escape from the Muscogee Brick Co. were welded into ankle shackles with three-inch-long spikes turned inward -- to make it impossibly painful to run again. Guards everywhere were routinely drunk and physically abusive.

• The World War II Effect

Testimony described hellish conditions at Chattahoochee Brick and other operations owned by Mr. English, a luminary of the Atlanta elite and a man hardly anyone in the reviving city would have associated with human cruelty. But by 1908, Mr. English -- despite having never owned antebellum slaves -- was a man whose great wealth was inextricably tied to the enslavement of thousands of men.

Born in 1837 near New Orleans and orphaned as a teenager, he served as a young man in the Confederate army, rising to become a captain in a prominent Georgia brigade. After the South's defeat, he went to Atlanta to establish himself in the business and politics of the bustling new capital of southern commerce. He led a drive to make the city the state capital of Georgia, cementing its foundation as an economic center. In 1880 he was elected mayor.

Presiding from an elegant home, Mr. English, a portly man with a thick shock of white hair and a matching mustache, fostered a collection of enterprises that grew as Atlanta emerged from its Civil War ruin.

Chattahoochee Brick

The base of his wealth, Chattahoochee Brick, relied on forced labor from its inception, in 1878, and by the early 1890s, more than 150 prisoners were employed in the wilting heat of its fires. By 1897, Mr. English's enterprises controlled 1,206 of Georgia's 2,881 convict laborers, engaged in brick making, cutting crossties, lumbering, railroad construction and making turpentine.
A prisoner receives punishment in a Georgia labor camp around 1930.

Mr. English parlayed his industrial wealth to become one of the South's most important financiers as well. In 1896, he founded Atlanta's Fourth National Bank and became its first president.

Mr. English strenuously denied to the Georgia committee that any "act of cruelty" had ever been "committed upon a convict" under the control of himself or any member of his family. He insisted that he and his son were essentially absentee owners of the brick factory, having little to do with its daily operations.

"If a warden in charge of those convicts ever committed an act of cruelty to them," Mr. English said, "and it had come to my knowledge, I would have had him indicted and prosecuted."

Yet his testimony affirmed how Chattahoochee Brick -- like so many other Southern enterprises -- forced laborers to their absolute physical limits to extract modern levels of production using archaic manufacturing techniques.

Once dried, the bricks were carried at a double-time pace by two dozen laborers running back and forth -- under almost continual lashing by Mr. English's overseer, Capt. James T. Casey. Witnesses testified that guards holding long horse whips struck any worker who slowed to a walk or paused.

By the end of the century, the forced laborers churned out 300,000 hot red rectangles of hardened clay every day. Millions were sold to the Atlanta City Council to pave streets and line the sidewalks of Atlanta's flourishing new Victorian neighborhoods, according to company and city records.

The prisoners of the brickyard produced nearly 33 million bricks in the 12 months ending in May 1907, generating sales of $239,402 -- or about $5.2 million today. Of that, the English family pocketed the equivalent of nearly $1.9 million in profit -- an almost-unimaginable sum at the time.

A string of witnesses told the legislative committee that prisoners at the plant were fed rotting and rancid food, housed in barracks rife with insects, driven with whips into the hottest and most-intolerable areas of the plant, and continually required to work at a constant run in the heat of the ovens.

On Sundays, white men came to the Chattahoochee brickyard to buy, sell and trade black men as they had livestock and, a generation earlier, slaves on the block. "They had them stood up in a row and walked around them and judged of them like you would a mule," testified one former guard at the camp.

Another guard told the committee that 200 to 300 floggings were administered each month. "They were whipping all the time. It would be hard to tell how many whippings they did a day," testified Arthur W. Moore, a white former employee.

A rare former convict who was white testified that after a black prisoner named Peter Harris said he couldn't work because of a grossly infected hand, the camp doctor carved off the affected skin tissue with a surgeon's knife and then ordered him back to work. Instead, Mr. Harris, his hand mangled and bleeding, collapsed after the procedure. The camp boss ordered him dragged into the brickyard and whipped 25 times. "If you ain't dead, I will make you dead if you don't go to work," shouted a guard. Mr. Harris was carried to a cotton field. He died lying between the rows of cotton.

Similar testimony emerged from camps owned by Joel Hurt, the rich Atlanta real-estate developer and investor most remembered as the visionary behind the city's earliest and most-elegant subdivisions. Mr. Hurt was also the founder of Atlanta's Trust Company Bank -- the city's other pre-eminent financial institution.

The 'Water Cure'

In 1895, Mr. Hurt bought a group of bankrupt forced-labor mines and furnaces on Lookout Mountain, near the Tennessee state line. Guards there had recently adopted for punishment of the workers the "water cure," in which water was poured into the nostrils and lungs of prisoners. (The technique, preferred because it allowed miners to "go to work right away" after punishment, became infamous in the 21st century as "waterboarding.")

An elderly black man named Ephraim Gaither testified during the state's hearings as to the fate of a 16-year-old boy at a lumber camp owned by Mr. Hurt and operated by his son George Hurt. The teenager was serving three months of hard labor for an unspecified misdemeanor.

"He was around the yard sorter playing and he started walking off," Mr. Gaither recounted. "There was a young fellow, one of the bosses, up in a pine tree and he had his gun and shot at the little negro and shot this side of his face off," Mr. Gaither said as he pointed to the left side of his face. The teenager ran into the woods and died. Days later, a dog appeared in the camp dragging the boy's arm in its mouth, Mr. Gaither said. The homicide was never investigated.

Called to testify before the commission, Mr. Hurt lounged in the witness chair, relaxed and unapologetic for any aspect of the sprawling businesses.

Another witness before the commission, former chief warden Jake Moore, testified that no prison guard could ever "do enough whipping for Mr. Hurt." "He wanted men whipped for singing and laughing," Mr. Moore told the panel.

In response to the revelations, Gov. Hoke Smith called a special session of the state Legislature, which authorized a public referendum on the fate of the system. In October 1908, Georgia's nearly all-white electorate voted by a 2-to-1 margin to abolish the system as of March 1909. Without prison labor, business collapsed at Chattahoochee Brick. Production fell by nearly 50% in the next year. Total profit dwindled to less than $13,000.

The apparent demise of Georgia's system of leasing prisoners seemed a harbinger of a new day. But the harsher reality of the South was that the new post-Civil War neoslavery was evolving -- not disappearing.

Taking on the Trust

Taking on the Trust
By Steve Weinberg
(Norton, 304 pages, $29.95)

In 1901, John D. Rockefeller had reason for optimism.

His Standard Oil empire dominated the global petroleum business. His products had found satisfied customers in every nook and cranny of business and household life. The year before he had covered half the $500,000 in campaign expenses incurred by William McKinley, the recently re-elected Republican president. His $3 million in annual dividend income alone was 5,700 times the earnings of the nation's typical worker.

But he hadn't counted on two things. On Sept. 6, an anarchist fatally shot McKinley, ushering into office an altogether different sort of Republican -- Theodore Roosevelt, a man who would famously speak of "the malefactors of great wealth." And Ida Tarbell, a new kind of journalist -- a prototype of what later would be called a muckraker and later still an investigative reporter -- was preparing to launch a series of excoriating profiles of Rockefeller's business practices that would eventually alter his own fate and his company's.

The stories of Rockefeller and Tarbell have been told before, but Steve Weinberg's "Taking on the Trust" is the first book aimed entirely at narrating their epic clash and their surprisingly intertwined personal histories. The book's timing could not be more apt. Early in the 20th century, Americans rebelled against a laissez-faire, untrammeled business environment that gave rise to the fortunes of robber barons and to feelings of frustration and powerlessness among ordinary workers and business people. Today, after a generation of deregulation and free-market policies -- not to mention lurid tales of financial buccaneering -- there are similar signs of a shift in sentiment toward the tighter government oversight of business.

The book's timing is apt in another way as well. In an era of economic upheaval in American journalism, it is fascinating to read about a once penniless Irish immigrant, Samuel McClure, who was able to found a magazine that created practically overnight a platform for incisive reporting -- not only by Tarbell but also by Lincoln Steffens, Ray Stannard Baker, Josiah Willard and others.

Mr. Weinberg, a journalism professor at the University of Missouri and himself a distinguished investigative reporter, keeps his two main characters headed relentlessly toward their ultimate confrontation, and he is more willing to criticize Tarbell than one might expect. Indeed, his deeply researched account is scrupulously evenhanded, fair to both the man who was by far the nation's richest tycoon and the woman who was its most famous reporter.

Both Rockefeller and Tarbell had to struggle through challenging childhoods and early careers; both were frequently uprooted in their youth, scrambling from place to place as their families sought opportunity in a rapidly expanding but panic-plagued economy. Rockefeller launched his public life as a bookkeeper in Cleveland; Tarbell began hers as a would-be expatriate author in Paris. Both were crucially influenced by up-close exposure to the reckless oil boom touched off in the muddy drilling fields near Titusville, Pa., in the 1850s.

Rockefeller was born in rural New York to an itinerant medicine salesman, a philandering confidence man who managed to marry the daughter of a prosperous farmer. A housekeeper's rape charge against Rockefeller père forced the family to skedaddle to Cleveland, where he continued his wandering ways. But his wife kept the kids together (with money help from their father, most of the time). At the age of 16, John D. quit school and landed an apprentice job at a produce-trading firm.

A prodigious worker and devout Baptist (no drinking, no dancing), John D. soon moved from vegetables to petroleum and from buying and selling to building a business with complete vertical integration -- controlling his new commodity from wellhead to pipeline to refinery to customer. He had a keen eye for figures and an unusual ability to connect with people from different walks of life. He also had a healthy respect for competition and sought to eliminate it whenever possible.

The business landscape across which Rockefeller strode was almost without rules. The corporation was replacing the individual proprietor as the fundamental structure of commerce, and the trust -- a forerunner the now familiar holding company -- was a way of controlling corporate empires across states. Unburdened by modern disclosure mandates, the trust also permitted emerging industrial octopi to mask their size and collaboration.

Practices long since outlawed today -- accepting kickbacks and offering bribes to the employees of other companies for sensitive information -- allowed Rockefeller and his lieutenants to muscle their way into every corner of the industry. Competitors were either driven into bankruptcy by cut-rate pricing or, if Rockefeller admired their acumen, invited aboard.

Born in northwestern Pennsylvania 18 years after Rockefeller, in 1857, Tarbell was a rarity among daughters of the working class -- she was encouraged to pursue an education. Her father worked at many trades, including welding, teaching and farming. But the oil boom brought him prosperity as a barrel maker. Before long, he found himself up against the power of Rockefeller's Standard Oil empire, which curtailed the growth of the barrel business by introducing more efficient tanks and tank cars. Ida's once ebullient father became dour and depressive as the trust squeezed him and his neighbors.

Despite family setbacks, Ida managed to become one of the first women to attend Allegheny College, 30 miles from her home. She studied chemistry, calculus, history and economics, among other subjects. "Her book learning, supplementing her real-world experience to come," Mr. Weinberg asserts, "placed her at an advantage over the less formally educated Rockefeller."

After graduation in 1880, she was hired as a teacher at a high school in Poland, Ohio (a school once attended by McKinley). But she didn't like the work and quit after two years, later landing an editorial job at The Chautauquan, the organ of the popular educational movement based in upstate New York.

McClure's Magazine was one of Ms. Tarbell's biggest customers.

From there she took a great leap, scraping together enough money to go to Paris and write a biography of Madame Roland, a prominent republican sympathizer during the French Revolution. Landing in France with $150 to her name, Tarbell befriended a handful of American expatriates, learned the language and pursued her research -- which kept getting interrupted by free-lance writing assignments. Her biggest customer became McClure, who lured her to New York in 1894 to join his magazine.

Tarbell soon became a superstar. Her natural intellectual rigor, combined with the experience of researching Roland's life (the biography appeared in 1896), made her an unusually effective reporter. Unsatisfied with a single source, she tested documents and the recollections of interviewees against one another until she was satisfied that she had an accurate account. Her work at McClure's first focused on historical figures, but her information was so fresh and her writing so compelling that, when her biographical chronicles were serialized in the magazine, they helped to double its circulation.

Then McClure invited her to turn her attention to Rockefeller. For a while there was some question whether, given Tarbell's family's history, she was the right person to investigate the oil trust. But McClure had confidence in her fairness, and she dug in. The more she reported, the more convinced she became that Rockefeller's ruthlessness was pervasive and beyond moral if not legal bounds.

She ultimately found what Mr. Weinberg calls a "smoking gun" -- a secret document offering clear evidence of Rockefeller's pattern of business espionage. It had been given to a young Standard Oil clerk to burn, but he had noticed the name of an independent refiner who happened to be his Sunday school teacher and had turned the document over to the teacher, who passed it along to Tarbell.

Tarbell's serialized articles -- detailing predatory pricing against competitors and the secret rigging of railroad rates -- caused a sensation. Public outrage mounted against Rockefeller and the trust. Finally, in 1911, the Supreme Court -- in an opinion tracking the findings of Tarbell's reports -- ruled that Standard Oil had violated the Sherman Antitrust Act and had to be broken up.

The verdict was a triumph for Tarbell and a major defeat for Rockefeller. Investors decided that Standard Oil was more valuable in parts, and Rockefeller ended up worth even more than before. Still, the court's decision -- forcing Rockefeller to do something that he dearly did not want to do, as a price for illegal conduct -- was a demonstration that the power of wealth was not absolute and that the power of the press to expose corruption was not to be ignored. Thus did Ida Tarbell became the mother of modern investigative reporting.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Electric Cars Pre-Date the Civil War!

Talk about an old idea. The first electric cars hit the scene way back in the early 1830s, 30 years before the Civil War (for the record, they’re also older than the Eiffel Tower, Joan Rivers and sliced bread). In fact, the electric car was actually the first popularized car. In the year 1900, of the 4,192 cars produced in the United States, 28% of them were electric. And in 1903 electric cars outsold gasoline powered cars, representing about 1/3 of the cars found on the road in New York City, Boston, and Chicago.

So what made electric cars so popular? Basically, the reasons for its success are the same reasons people are taking a second look at electric cars today: they were quieter, smoother and easier to drive (gasoline-powered cars required gear changing, whereas electric cars did not). And on top of that, they didn’t emit noxious smells or gases.
The Flattery for Batteries

The first electric carriage was created by Robert Anderson of Scotland in the 1830s. It was powered by non rechargeable primary cells — basically, a battery. Prior to that, cars were powered by steam engines. France improved the storage battery and thereafter the electric car flourished in France and Great Britain in the late 1800s, and in the US in the early 1900s.

Since the transistor based technology limited the cars’ speed to about 20 mph, in the US the electric car was marketed strictly to high-class individuals as a town car. It was also marketed as suitable for women due to its ease and safety of operation, whereas the gasoline powered car was dangerous and difficult to start. Though slow and powered by a non-rechargeable battery, the electric car’s technology was promising. In 1900, the first speed record was set at 66 mph by a vehicle powered by two 12 volt motors, and the first distance record was set by an electric vehicle that drove 180 miles on a single battery charge.
How the Electric Became Endangered

So what exactly happened to cars? The decline of the electric can be attributed to two individuals – Henry Ford and Anthony Lucas. Henry Ford came into the picture in 1903 and with his quote “I will build a car for the great multitude,” he did just that. In 1908 he perfected the mass production of internal combustion engines. The Model T could be assembled in only ninety-three minutes! Of course, that meant gasoline powered cars became more affordable for consumers. In 1912, an electric car sold for $1750 while a gas guzzler sold for $650. Additionally, Cadillac simplified the once dangerous and difficult task of starting up the internal combustion engine. As cities grew, the need for longer-distance driving grew and batteries just didn’t cut it. Electric car sales peaked in 1912, and declined to obsoleteness shortly thereafter.

Of course, assembly lines and combustion engines weren’t the only reason that the electric went extinct; oil also played a huge factor. When Anthony Lucas struck black gold at Spindletop in 1901, US oil production tripled overnight, making gasoline extremely abundant and affordable. This only boosted the case for gas powered internal combustion engines.

It’s been 100 years since Ford perfected the production of the internal combustion engine, and gasoline powered cars still dominate the automobile market. However, unlike Spindletop in 1901, it seems the only thing skyrocketing today is the price of oil. These days, even Ford Motor Co is playing with electric cars- an ironic coda considering just how hard the company worked to outpace the technology all those years ago.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Ultimate Sacrifice for Music: Castration!

Forget Van Gogh; he only lost an ear. It was the great catrato Farinelli who made the ultimate sacrifice for art: he gave up his nuts!

Carlo Broschi was a man who really suffered for his music. Known to the world as the great opera singer Farinelli (1705-1782), he was castrated as a young boy to prevent his exquisite singing voice from ever breaking. But before you start feeling too sorry for the songsmith, it’s worth bearing in mind that Farinelli was showered with wealth and adulation throughout his career. And even with a couple of pieces missing from his repertoire, he still managed to make beautiful music with the ladies.


The practice of castrating men (making them into eunuchs) arose around 3,000 years ago. Castration was usually inflicted on slaves who worked in the harem of a king or powerful ruler; the object was to ensure that they could not father children. It involved the removal of the testicles only (!), and a castrated singer like Farinelli, though sterile, was often able to perform in a lady’s boudoir as well as on the stage.

Eventually, the demand for castrated men ran out, except in one area: music. The 17th and 18th centuries were a golden age of eunuchs in classical music. Especially in Italy, where boys became castrati, or "the castrated ones." The special thing about these little fellas was that they were altered just before reaching puberty, so that their voices never broke. Boys who were promising singers were selected, given the snip, and then sent to special schools for vocal training.


From 1599, castrati were allowed to sing in the papal choir. They proved to be so popular that a whole type of music theater was invented for them, known as opera seria, from which modern opera partly developed. While a castrato’s voice always kept its high, childlike pitch, it was delivered with the power of a fully grown man. A castrato could soar effortlessly up and down the vocal registers, belting out tunes like a diva on helium. Castrati could also perform all manner of vocal tricks, such as holding a single note for a full minute. Audiences loved it, and the castrati were the rock stars of their day, complete with rampant egos, fawning flunkies, adoring fans, and obliging groupies. And the biggest star of all was Farinelli.

Farinelli, unlike many other castrati, was not from a poor background. Indeed, his father, Salvatore, was the governor of the region around Naples, in southern Italy. Young Carlo displayed vocal talent as a child. And so, some time between his seventh and eighth birthday, little Carlo said goodbye to part of his anatomy - and hello to a singing career. After studying with the greatest vocal masters of the day, Carlo, now renamed Farinelli after one of his patrons, made his debut in 1720, aged 15. From then on it was nonstop fame and fortune for the next 17 years. After conquering Italy with triumphant performances in Naples, Rome, and Bologna, Farinelli toured Europe in his early 20s, billed as "the Singer of Kings," due to his having performed for most of Italy’s many princes and minor royalty. King Louis XV of France fell under his spell, as did the British
public. Farinelli was paid huge fees to perform, either onstage or in private audiences. All in all, life was pretty good for our hero.


But then, Farinelli gave it all up. Maybe life on the road with wealth, adulation, and amorous women isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; but in 1737, at the age of 32, Farinelli announced he was quitting the stage to become the private court singer to King Philip V of Spain. Farinelli had originally visited Spain as part of his European tour, but he was so affected by the king’s emotional response to his singing that he decided to stay on.

It turns out that he got much more than he bargained for. Philip V was a manic-depressive, and once he’d latched onto Farinelli and his singing, he wouldn’t let go. The king claimed that he could only get to sleep if Farinelli serenaded him. So, the castrated crooner was hired to sing the same set of songs to his patron every night for the next ten years.

Farinelli was at the Spanish court for 25 years in total, outliving two monarchs. In that time he acquired great wealth and even more political power: Philip trusted the Italian artist so much that Farinelli eventually became one of the king’s most trusted advisors.

In 1759, Farinelli quit Spain and retired to Bologna, Italy, where he lived out his remaining years composing and playing music, receiving famous guests, such as Mozart, and using his great wealth to fund many charitable causes.


In 1870 Italy finally outlawed the creation of castrati. In 1902, and again in 1904, phonograph recordings were made of Alessandro Moreschi, the last surviving Italian castrato, but he was by then old and ill and his voice was shot. We will probably never know what a true castrato in his prime sounded like - something that young Italian boys should praise the Lord every day of their prepubescent lives.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


his will boggle your mind, I know it did mine!
The year is 1908.
One hundred years ago.
What a difference a century makes!
Here are some statistics for the Year 1908 :
************ ********* ********* ******

The average life expectancy was 47 years.

Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.

Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.

There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.

The tallest structure in the world was the Eiffel Tower!

The average wage in 1908 was 22 cents per hour.

The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year .

A competent accountant could expect to earn $2,000 per year,
A dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95% of all births took place at HOME .

90% of all doctors had NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!!
Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which
Were condemned in the press AND the government as 'substandard. '

Sugar cost four cents a pound.

Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.

Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.

Most women only washed their hair once a month, and used
Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada passed a law that prohibited poor people from
Entering into their country for any reason.

Five leading causes of death were:
1. Pneumonia and influenza
2. Tuberculosis
3. Diarrhea
4. Heart disease
5. Stroke

The American flag had 45 stars.

The population of Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30!!!

Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and ice tea
Hadn't been invented yet.

There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.

Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write.
Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, 'Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind,regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health.' ( Shocking? DUH! )

Eighteen percent of households had at least
One full-time servant or domestic help.

There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE ! U.S.A. !

Now I forwarded this from someone else without typing
It myself, and sent it to you and others all over Canada & U.S.A
Possibly the world, in a matter of seconds!

Try to imagine what it may be like in another 100 years.