Archive for the 'History' Category

Thomas Jefferson’s Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese. The name, in much of the world, conjures up a familiar image of elbow macaroni in a yellow, cheddar-y sauce. According to Wikipedia, the English-speaking world’s love of the gooey stuff owes much to President Jefferson, who encountered the dish in France in the late 1700s, and became enamored of it.

The Wikipedia article points out a recipe for macaroni and cheese in an influential 1824 cookbook, and it’s quite a simple one, at that: Macaroni, cheese, and butter.

Guess what? That’s not the original recipe for mac and cheese, as we know it. It’s almost certainly not the recipe that Jefferson enjoyed at the White House.
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Published in: Geekiness, History | on December 10th, 2012 | 3 Comments »

Reviving Old Raleigh 3-Speed Pedals On the Cheap

One of my relatives recently decided to take up bicycling. While this is good, because exercise is a good thing, blah blah blah, I was tasked with both finding them a suitable bicycle, and ensuring its functionality.

Their criteria was fairly simple: It had to be a diamond frame (i.e. a “men’s bike”), it had to have upright handlebars, and it could have no more than five speeds. (I have no idea why, either. I just do what I’m told.)

My criteria was a bit more complicated: It had to actually fit them, it had to be in decent mechanical shape, it had to not use a buttload of proprietary-sized parts or need obscure proprietary tools to work on, and it had to not be a super attractive theft-magnet, because they are probably only going to use a cable lock, not a u-lock, and we’d both feel bad if it got stolen.

I almost wavered on the last one – there was a gorgeous 1950s BSA three-speed on Craigslist, fully restored, for $150 – but in the end I persevered, and we wound up with…
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Published in: Geekiness, General, History | on May 20th, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Fifty Years Ago Today…

Fifty years ago (26 Dec 1961):

Moscow, Dec 26, UPI – Premier Khrushchev has urged lesser Soviet officials to tell him when he is wrong and not meekly to accept his directives.
His declaration–apparently a further effort to wipe out the paralyzing “cult of personality”–was made last week at a conference of agricultural officials in the Ukraine and published yesterday by Pravda.
Mr. Khrushchev’s remark was provoked by P.A. Vlasvuk, president of the Ukrainian Academy of Agriculture.
Mr. Vlasvuk had apparently claimed that in a criticized method of crop rotation, he had followed suggestions made by Mr. Khrushchev.
To this Mr. Khrushchev replied: “Is it I who must be the highest authority in questions of agricultural science? You are president of the Ukraine’s Academy of Agriculture and I am secretary of the central committee of the (Communist) party. In these questions it is you who should help me, and not I you.”
“I can make a mistake but you, if you are an honest scientist, you should tell me ‘Comrade Khrushchev you do not understand that question altogether correctly.’ If you explain to me how to correctly understand a question, then I would thank you for it.”

A day ago. Roughly. (25 Dec 2011):

MOSCOW, December 25 (RIA Novosti) Russian Prime Minister and presidential candidate Vladimir Putin still enjoys the support of the majority of Russians, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in an interview with AFP news agency on Sunday after the biggest opposition protest in Moscow.
“Putin still has the support of a majority. And we should treat the opinion of a majority with respect,” Peskov was quoted by AFP as saying.

I just found the contrast amusing…

Published in: General, History | on December 26th, 2011 | No Comments »

Flemish Flower Dipping

I think we can all agree that the 1960s were a strange period in history, defined by the music, the fashion, the politics, the war, the social revolution, and the general overall strangeness. Nowhere is this better exemplified than the “New Wave” of science fiction authors who came to the forefront in the latter part of the decade…

No, wait, wrong essay.

Nowhere, in fact, is this better exemplified than the arts and crafts of the period, which remain strangely fascinating in a so-terrible-it’s-kitschy sort of way. Amid all the things we remember from crafts of the ’60s – the yarn, the yarn! – it’s interesting to stumble across things which have been damned near erased from the collective consciousness.

Take, for instance, Flemish Flower Dipping, an incredibly 1960s way of taking fake plastic flowers and… well, uglifying them, let’s be honest:
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Published in: General, History | on November 23rd, 2011 | 3 Comments »

Weirdness, Florida Style, 1940

I was searching around for something the other day, and, to make a long story short, wound up reading the June 28th, 1940 edition of the Sarasota (Florida) Herald-Tribune. Now, Florida is weird – just ask Carl Hiassen – and the distant past is, metaphorically speaking, a foreign country… even by those standards, the following two related stories are (I think) fairly entertaining.

Oh, and if two old newspapers are a bit of a “tl;dr” for you… scroll down; there’s a cute 71-year-old cat picture at the end.
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Published in: General, History | on November 16th, 2011 | No Comments »