Sunday, February 17, 2013

History lessons

  • From Cracked:
    • Firsts that really weren’t. Knew most of these; the most interesting I learned here is Meucci and Gray invented the telephone. Not sure about the space claim. Everybody knows about von Braun and the space program but does a V-2 going 28½ miles up count as the first shot into space? Googled the space boundary again and learned the experts now think it’s 76 miles up. The international standard is 62; the US government’s is 50 so X-15 pilots got astronaut wings. All those fun do-it-yourself projects with model rockets and digital video, and Felix Baumgartner’s skydiving record, are impressive; the blackness and seeing the earth’s curve look like space but it’s not even close. I don’t think Baumgartner could have done it without air to fall through. He did freefall supersonically, but I think an Air Force pilot did it first.
    • Proverbs that don’t mean what you think.
  • How Shakespeare’s English might have sounded. Making the rounds now and already familiar to many. There’s long been a school of Shakespearean drama that tries to do this instead of modern upper-class British or mid-Atlantic sounds. As you can hear, English about 400 years ago sounded different, when the English settled in North America, which is why its accents sound so different from most of the modern British family of accents.
  • Clip: Yeager breaks the sound barrier.


  1. What counts in space is being able to put things in orbit, and the V-2 couldn't do that.

    I don't know who was actually saying that Sally Ride was the first woman in space; I don't give Cracked much credit for refuting myths that nobody of the most moderate education would believe.

  2. English in Shakespeare's days

    I don't recall the source just now, but I had read some years ago that some scholars have speculated that English in the 16th Century sounded something like Cockney today.

  3. Re: Cracked Firsts that really weren't: picture of Grant and Lee at Appomatox

    Also partly myth. Grant looks fully decked out as a general officer in an impeccably tailored uniform. Grant actually showed up for the Appomatox surrender slovenly dressed in a private's uniform, his customary uniform in the field. He hadn't had time to change and then make it to Appomatox for his historic meeting with Lee who BTW was impeccably dressed in his best Confederate uniform. You will note from the picture that Lee was dressed as was his custom in a Colonel's uniform. Lee never wore the insignia of a general officer during the Civil War.


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