Wednesday, June 30, 2010

10,000 year-old weapon found

The University of Colorado announced they discovered an atlatl dart which is dated nearly 10,000 years old near Yellowstone National Park. The atlatl consists of a shaft with a cup and the dart therefore rests inside, ready to be hurdle against ones enemy. The dart has discovered amongst some melting ice and was badly warped and nearly destroyed by an animal walking over it. According to researcher Craig Lee the original marking from the hunter are still etched on the dart.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

June 23, 2010 - A Historic Day in American Sports

Few times throughout the year do sports get talked about among the majority of the American people. The finals of the professional sports, an amazing play, or a record broken are the moments in which we hear everyone talking about sports. Overall Americans love their sports. The thrill of competition and the sweetness of victory are what makes America great. Rarely does the conversation of sports involve so much talk then it did on June 23, 2010. Even more rare was the talk did not involve basketball, football, or baseball. Two singular moments in sports that had the entire nation talking actually involved soccer and tennis.

The first was the FIFA World Cup match-up between the United States and Algeria. The final game of the group schedule gave the United States the opportunity to move to the tournament of 16 with a win against Algeria. The United States team, seen as second class in world soccer, fought extremely hard to score as early as possible. The coach of the Americans, Bob Bradley, knew that only win would allow the Americans to advance and he was right. The English team had scored against Slovenia early and as the time was winding down it became obvious that an England win and an American tie would result in the United States soccer team heading home early. Not short of multiple chances the United States squad stayed aggressive and continually missed opportunity after opportunity. Despite an inept international ref calling off another American goal we continued to fight. As stoppage time commenced the result seemed inevitable. Watching the game my heart sunk and I began to believe that soccer truly is a world sport and the United States just has not caught up. And then it happened. The goalkeeper Howard pulled down a shot from the Algerians and forward the pass to Donovan on the right-flank. Donovan moving to score quickly got the ball upfield and passed it to Jozy Altidore. Altidore tried to cross it to Dempsey for a chip in however it deflected and Dempsey crashed into the goalkeeper. From their it was slow motion. Donovan, 7-yards out, smashed the ball into the lower corner of the goal. The team went nuts, the stadium erupted, office buildings and restaurants back home went crazy. There is something about international competition that brings even the apathetic fan into the fold. Soccer has never become more interesting and more compelling for the United States than on June 23, 2010. Cheering American fans stayed in the stadium for well over 30 minutes after the finale. Even President Bill Clinton, on hand to watch the event, stayed in the locker room for nearly an hour hanging out with the players and congratulating them on the their victory. This is not an epic victory that will be placed on the same stage as the "Miracle on Ice" but it will be remembered. It allowed for an underdog American team to show the world what they are made of and as Donovan said, it "embodies what the American spirit is about... we kept going, and I think that's what people admire so much about America."

It is important to realize at the time Donovan scored his game winning goal it wasn't even lunch time on the East Coast and the West Coast was just waking up. There was so much time left in the day however that was all anyone could talk about. Then around 1pm eastern standard time we started to hear about a match in Wimbledon, England. It involved two fairly obscure players, John Isner of the United States and Nicholas Mahut of France. When I first heard about the match the score was in the 30s in the fifth set. Records were already being broken and there seemed to be no end in site. From this point the match went from interesting to epic. Despite complete exhaustion these men continued to play, placing serves at speeds well over 120mph. Neither man could seem to break the others serve however. The crowd slowly grew as word broke out about the match. With capacity of the court just over 700 the crowd grew way beyond that. People were finding anyway possible to see this historic match now reaching over 100 games in the fifth set. Even the top professionals like Roger Federer showed up wanting to witness this event. Andy Roddick questioned if either of these men had to use the restroom, the answer is they did. Tied at 58-all the two men took their first restroom break. They played two more games and the inevitable set in. Court 18, where the two men were playing, has no lights. The crowd was chanting for them to move the match to centre court but it was apparent that was not going to happen. After it was tied up at 59-all Mahut walked over to the official and suggested the match end. The ability to seeing was dwindling and despite both men wanting the match to continue and determine the winner, they called it off for the next day. The statistics for this match are unbelieveable. Isner finished the day with 98 aces, Mahut with 95, which shattered the previous record set last year during the Davis Cup at 78. The fifth set alone was longer than the previously longest match record which was just over six hours. I can not imagine the physical toll this match had on these men and unforunately it will probably negatively effect the winner the next time they play. Despite this it is something we will probably never see again. It is sad to think that one of them actually has to lose this match.

Two distinct sporting events nearly 5,500 miles apart. Neither of them performed in the United States however both very American in nature. One can not help but relish in the opportunity we had to enjoy sports on Wednesday, June 23rd. A sports day that did not involve football or basketball, it did not involve money or egos. It was simply about grit. We witnessed determination at its finest level, competition at its most pure, and the spirit of winning rarely seen.  

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Rare Slave Photo Discovered

Photos dating back to the Civil War era are rare; even rarer are photos of slave children. Recently discovered in an attic in North Carolina is a photo of two boys, believed to be between 6-10 years of age. Accompanying the photo was a document which identified one of the boys as John and he sold for $1,150. That is a hefty price tag. In 2010, that translates to around $30,000. The photo is a significant find and should shed some light on the slave trade and childhood slavery.

Monday, June 14, 2010

From My Library: "Rum, Punch, and Revolution"

This book by Peter Thompson opened my eyes to a life in Early America and a society that I did not realize existed. This masterful work should be read by any individual who is only slightly interested in Early American life or drinking.

Thompson makes the argument and supports it well that tavern life in Early America was the centerpiece of political debate and thought. Democracy in its purest form could be found at the local taverns throughout the colonies. The tavern not only pulled in the lowest class individual but also the middle class and elite. With this diverse group of individuals in such a tight location, debate naturally sprang forth and thoughts were freely expressed that transcended class, ethnicity, and religion. With this healthy mixture of individuals it allowed for those that did the governing to understand the perspective of those being governed. It allowed for their voices to be heard, which became a vital element to Early American life.

I highly recommended this book and consider it one of my favorite reads. This should be evident in it being my first review. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I hope you do to. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

FIFA World Cup 2010

I absolutely love international competition and tournaments. I am a sucker for the Olympics and you will usually find my glued to the television watching with excitement at the most obscure sports that people compete in. Despite what little interest I have in soccer, the FIFA World Cup is no exception. I will be glued to the television and checking my FIFA World Cup app for updates and scores on how the competitions are going over this next month.

I firmly believe that international sports bring out the best of human nature. Countries from around the world compete on the same stage where politically they might not even be communicating with each other. It is that asterisk in world history when one reads through the story of us and sees that for one month the governments of the world put aside their differences and came together to enjoy the thrill of competition.

This is Hysterical... Vintage Ads that may shock you

I found this on this morning and had to share....

Friday, June 4, 2010

History in Film: Patton

How can I write a blog on history and not write about my favorite historical movie of all time Patton. Released in April of 1970 it is the quintessential film on the life of George S. Patton and on World War II.

From beginning to end this movie captures your attention in learning about the life of an American soldier who saw himself more as an Old World romantic of war than a modern day military genius. I have to admit that numerous times throughout the film the dialogue and action can be dry, however it is in those moments that you learn most about the personality and leadership of Patton.

Dramatic license is always taken with a biographical film however overall the accuracy of the events that occurred is unmatched. Patton and Bradley were not as close of friends as the film portrays to the viewer, in fact he was probably closest with Eisenhower. Many of the tanks and military equipment were not vintage World War II. Overall the film does a wonderful job at capturing the story from beginning to end with dignity and respect.

Roger Ebert was quoted referencing to George C Scott's performance as Patton, "It is one of those sublime performances in which the personalities of the actor and the character are fulfilled in one another." One would have to place Scott's portrayal of Patton as one of the most genuine and realistic performances of a real life character in American film history. His performance was rewarded in 1971 when he received Best Actor at the Academy Awards. The film also won six additional Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director.

If you have not seen this movie I highly suggest you spend a weekend watching it from beginning to end. You will not regret it.

Entertainment Rating - 4 out of 5
Historical Value - 4 out of 5
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