Popeye for President

Originally released March 30, 1956 – this Famous Studios Popeye cartoon features Bluto (the Blutocratic Party candidate) running against Popeye (representing the Spinach Party) for President of the United States. With the two candidates tied and only the vote of Olive Oyl outstanding, the two candidates go to work in order to win Olive’s...
Abraham Lincoln’s ‘House Divided’ Speech

Abraham Lincoln’s ‘House Divided’ Speech

Abraham Lincoln delivered his ‘House Divided speech, one of the best known of his career, on June 16, 1858 in the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. He had won the Republican Party’s nomination as Illinois’ US Senator. He was unsuccessful in his campaign for the seat which was held by Stephen A. Douglas, a campaign memorable for the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. The most well known section of the speech is: “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.” The following is the text of Abraham Lincoln’s ‘House Divided’ Speech delivered June 16, 1858; Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention: If we could first know where we are and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do and how to do it. We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object and confident promise of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy,...
Vexillum

Vexillum

A portion of a Roman Legion on detached duty as a temporary task force, carried a standard called a Vexillum. These detached units became know as vexillatio derived from the name of the standard they bore. Vexillum comes from the Latin word velum, meaning sail, curtain, or awning. The vexilla (plural of vexillum) were ‘little sails’ or flag-like standards. In contrast to modern day flags, the vexilla were attached to a horizontal crossbar suspended from a staff. The flag usually contained the parent legion’s abbreviated title and often a sign of the zodiac. For example LEG. II AUG. along with the symbol for Capricorn for Legio II Augusta. The vexillum was carried by a vexillarius or vexilifer. Closely guarded in combat, the vexillum was the main standard of some unit types – particularly the...
Temple of Concord

Temple of Concord

Dedicated to the Roman goddess Concordia (goddess of concord and harmony), the Temple of Concord was vowed in 367 BC to commemorate reconciliation between patricians and plebians after the Aventine Secession. The Licinian laws, expanding the civil rights of the commoners or ‘plebians’, had been proposed and were eventually accepted despite great opposition by the patricians. M. Furius Camillus had promised to consecrate a temple to Concordia if peace was made. As part of the agreement between the two groups the first plebian consul was elected and going forward one of the two consuls was required to be a plebian. Centrally located between the Capitoline Hill and the Comitium, the Temple served as a reminder of the peace that had been established. In 211 B.C. a statue of Victory on its roof was struck down by lightning. In order to foster harmony after the murder of Gaius Gracchus, the Temple was rebuilt in 121 BC. The original dedication probably taking place on the 22nd of July. It was rededicated on January 16, 12 AD by the future emperor Tiberius during the reign of Augustus. This final restoration was noted for its opulent marble and rich architectural ornamentation. The cella, (central chamber or sanctuary of the temple) housed a row of Corinthian columns. These columns had pairs of leaping rams instead of the traditional corner volutes and were raised on a continuous plinth projecting from the wall that divided the cella into bays. Part of the function of the Temple appears to have been as a museum since it housed a wealth of Greek sculpture, paintings, and other works of...
The Far Side

The Far Side

The Far Side first appeared in newspapers on January 1, 1980 and ran for fifteen years, it’s last appearance being on January 1, 1995. All 23 Far Side compilation books were on The New York Times Best Seller list. The single-panel cartoon was created by Gary Larson who originally worked in a music store. Bored at work, he picked up a pencil and began to draw cartoons. He sold the first six panels to a local magazine. He created additional cartoons that he then sold to the Seattle Times, and was eventually syndicated through the San Francisco Chronicle. His cartoons caused the reader to look at everyday things in a bizarre, hilarious way. Perhaps Larson’s most well-known cartoon depicts something we all can relate to – pushing on a door that clearly says ‘Pull’. This classic cartoon appeared on mugs, t-shirts, and was pinned to many office cork boards. His book The Prehistory of The Far Side gave insights into some of the comments Larson received from readers as well as some insights into his thought process for creating the cartoons. One particular cartoon he discusses shows God playing a Jeopardy-like game show (hopefully, for Larson’s sake, God has a sense of humor). Of this cartoon Larson said, “First, I made God look the way I think most of us are pretty sure he looks. Secondly, I made sure he was really winning hands down. Even if Norman had only ten points it would have meant that he beat God to the buzzer at least once, and someone would have gotten mad.”* *Larson, Gary. The Prehistory of the Far...
Peanuts

Peanuts

On October 2, 1950, one of, if not the greatest, cartoon cartoon characters of all time was born. Charlie Brown, the blockhead created by Charles M. Schulz made his first appearance in the comic strip Peanuts on that date. Peanuts had, at its peak, a readership of 355 million. The strip included memorable characters like Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, Woodstock, Sally, and Peppermint Patty. Nearly 50 years later, on February 13, 2000, Charlie would make his final appearance – one day after the death of his creator Mr. Schulz. The Final Strip: Most Memorable Characters: Charlie Brown Charlie was the product of Charles M. Schulz’s formative years. Charlie, despite his numerous failures is always determined to try his best regardless of the outcomes. For example, how many times did he try to kick that football that Lucy was ‘holding’ for him? Snoopy Charlie Brown’s dog was quite the opposite of Charlie. Confident and self-assured his vivid imagination led him to believe he was a World War I Flying Ace who was often flying his ‘Sopwith Camel’ (doghouse) in pursuit of the Red Baron. Snoopy had six siblings, five of which made appearances in the strip (Andy, Olaf, Marbles, Spike, and his sister Belle). Lucy Lucy van Pelt first appeared on March 3, 1952 and was typically the rock in Charlie Brown’s shoe. She was smug, highly confident, crabby, bossy, and full of advice – as demonstrated by the sign on her booth ‘The doctor is “in”‘. She was in love with piano-playing Schroeder who barely gave her the time of day. She also hated being licked by Snoopy, who seemed...
Monkey Weapons in the Opium War

Monkey Weapons in the Opium War

During the Opium War, the Chinese were trying to destroy English ships by using fire-rafts. On their first attempt, fear of being within range of the British warships’ guns led the Chinese to ignite the rafts when they were still approximately three miles away from their targets. With so much advance notice, the British were able to take the ships in tow and beach them – although several sailors were badly burned. A second round of fire rafts was launched, again prematurely, and shortly afterward the Chinese irregulars in charge fled when they were attacked by boats that had be put out from the English warships. According to ‘The Opium War Through Chinese Eyes’ by The Arthur Waley Estate, ‘Someone suggested that fire-crackers should be tied to the backs of a number of monkeys, who would then be flung on board the English ships. The flames would spread rapidly in every direction and might with luck reach the powder-magazine, in which case the whole ship would blow up. Nineteen monkeys were bought, and at the time of the advance were brought in litters to the advanced base.’ The monkeys accompanied the retreating armies to Tz’u-ch’i when the Chinese attacks had failed. No one dared go near enough to the enemy ships to fling the monkeys on board, and so the plan was never executed. The monkeys were put in the charge of a Mr. Feng in the town on the heights behind Tz’u-ch’i. When the townspeople fled after the defeat of the remaining Chinese troops, there was no one to care for the monkeys and they eventually died of...
Theodora – Byzantine Empress or Crazy Woman

Theodora – Byzantine Empress or Crazy Woman

Procopius, the principal historian of the 6th century, became disillusioned with the Empress Theodora and her husband Justinian and wrote the following (doubtfully true) story in his Secret History about the Empress Theodora: ‘Often, even in the theatre, in the sight of all the people, she removed her costume and stood nude in their midst, except for a girdle about the groin: not that she was abashed at revealing that, too, to the audience, but because there was a law against appearing altogether naked on the stage, without at least this much of a fig-leaf. Covered thus with a ribbon, she would sink down to the stage floor and recline on her back. Slaves to whom the duty was entrusted would then scatter grains of barley from above…whence geese, trained for the purpose, would next pick the grains one by one with their bills and eat.’ …gives new meaning to the term ‘being goosed’. Of course, the author of the above commentary, Procopius, was also the one who said the following in his Secret History(so his credibility is obviously in question): ‘One man said that the Emperor suddenly rose from his throne and walked about, and indeed he was never wont to remain sitting for long, and immediately Justinian’s head vanished, while the rest of his body seemed to ebb and flow; whereat the beholder stood aghast and fearful, wondering if his eyes were deceiving him. But presently he perceived the vanished head filling out and joining the body again as strangely as it had left...
Transcontinental Railroad ‘Done’

Transcontinental Railroad ‘Done’

Final Spike Driven After a swing and a miss by an official from Union Pacific, and a second swing and a miss by another, two construction supervisors took turns driving in the last spike and completing the first transcontinental railroad in the United States. The spike and the original sledge used by the UP officials were wired to transmit the sound to the nation. The word ‘done’ was telegraphed across the United States on May 10th, 1869 at 12:47 P.M. with the Union Pacific’s No. 119 facing Central Pacific’s ‘Jupiter’ at Promontory Summit, Utah. Golden Spike Leland Stanford President of the Central Pacific Railroad Co. brought four ceremonial spikes which were dropped into pre-bored holes in the ties as part of the proceedings. Among the four was the famed ‘Golden Spike’ inscribed ‘the Last Spike’. Competition Groundbreaking for the Central Pacific Railroad took place in Sacrament six years earlier on January 8, 1863, while the Union Pacific broke ground on December 2nd of the same year on the Missouri River bluffs. Competition between the two companies helped drive the efforts forward. Charles Crocker who was in charge of labor issues for Central Pacific claimed they could lay 10 miles of track in one day. Union Pacific officials claimed it was impossible. On April 28th 1869, with a $10,000 bet hanging in the balance, CP set the record by laying 10 miles of track. Challenges The efforts were not without setbacks as Central Pacific faced labor shortages with workers leaving the effort when in 1865 silver was discovered in Nevada, and Union Pacific facing Native American raiding parties. Central Pacific...
Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra – Summary

Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra – Summary

Zenobia had a deep understanding of affairs of state, and her husband’s successes (recovery of the Roman East), were said to have been due to her counsel. She became Queen of Palmyra when her husband died in 267. Within two years she had conquered Egypt and expelled the Roman prefect, who was beheaded when he attempted to reclaim the territory. Zenobia claimed descent from Cleopatra and was said to profess the Jewish religion. She was beautiful and intelligent, with a dark complexion, pearly white teeth and bright black eyes. She was more beautiful than Cleopatra, and had a reputation for extreme chastity. Zenobia’s forces were dealt a crushing defeat by Aurelian’s forces near Antioch in 272. She and her son escaped initially, but were captured on the Euphrates by the Emperor’s horsemen. She appeared in golden chains in Aurelian’s military triumph parade in Rome. There are varied theories on her final...