Super Bowl LIII

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Last night I watched the largest event in sports; the Super Bowl. Hosted in Atlanta and featuring the New England Patriots (for the third time in a row) matching wits against the Los Angeles Rams, this Super Bowl disappointed many.

The pre-game hype was immense; pitting legendary coach Bill Belichick against young phenom Sean McVay and decorated quarterback Tom Brady against first-timer Jared Goff. A major controversy involved the NFL officiating crew missing a blatant pass interference call against the Rams in the NFC Championship, which (had it been called correctly) would have likely sent the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees to the Super Bowl instead. Nonetheless, the Rams made the Bowl, and the Patriots defeated the Kansas City Chiefs under MVP Patrick Mahomes to make the Game.

The Patriots entered as favorites, and did indeed win the game by a score of 13-3 in a defensive slug fest. Tom Brady won his sixth Super Bowl ring, Wide Receiver Julian Edelman won the MVP award, and the Rams were sent home. This Game, however, had the lowest ratings of its type in 10 years, due to the controversies and the defensive battle. Let’s all hope that Super Bowl LIV will be controversy-free.

Super Bowl LIII was also a rematch of another Patriots victory over the Rams 17, one that began the Patriots Dynasty. Interestingly, three fans remain who have attended all 53 Super Bowls, and one of them happens to be a Patriots fan. What are your thoughts on the Game, and which team would you like to see hoist the Lombardi Trophy next year?

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Edward The Elder

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Throughout the history of Great Britain, many monarchs have been honored for their separate legacies; before the Norman Conquest, Alfred the Great was the first true King of England. Today I delve into the life of a forgotten king, Edward the Elder.

Anglo-Saxon coinage mentioning Edward the Elder.

Edward was the son of the legendary Alfred the Great, who defeated the Danes of the North and united the majority of England under his rule, turning the small kingdom of Wessex into an English stronghold. With big footsteps to follow, Edward immediately fell into a succession dispute with his cousin AEthelwold, whom’s claim to the throne was ignored by Alfred’s own usurpation of it. The pretender was defeated easily, and Edward slyly inherited Mercia after its last Queen died. The Danes were defeated in 918, allowing Edward to obtain control of Leicester and Southern England. Edward’s crowning achievement came in 920 when the kings of the Scots, Northumbria, and the Welsh formally submitted to Edward, acknowledging him as King.

While the records of Edward’s reign are few, Edward the Elder united all of England and most importantly, he secured it against Danish invasion. Three of his sons would reign over England in their own time, and the throne would be in his royal line until the year of 1066.

Captain Kidd’s Treasure

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One of the most romanticized parts about history is undoubtedly piracy; the idea of freedom and hidden treasure appeal to many. Though a pirate’s life was far from glamorous, rumors persist today of the infamous buried treasure of Captain William Kidd.

Captain Kidd began his voyages at a young age; part of the crew of the pirate ship Blessed William, Kidd mutinied against the captain and took control of the vessel himself. He would raid the French throughout the Caribbean for some time as an English Privateer before being officially commissioned by King William III of England to hunt down pirates, but a series of diplomatic mistakes lost his hand-picked crew to impressment, which forced him to pick scoundrels and former pirates to sail with.

A fanciful painting of Captain Kidd.

Kidd even killed one of his rowdy crew members, and his fortunes took a downward spiral. Though accusations of piracy dogged him day and night, Kidd was rewarded for his troubles with an Indian ship, the Quedagh Merchant, filled with silver, gold, and expensive silks (rediscovered by divers in 2007). It was this conquest that led to rumors of Kidd burying his fortune for a later time before returning to New York. Kidd was immediately arrested and imprisoned upon his return, and was hanged (twice, due to the rope breaking initially) two years later, in 1701. His allies in England had betrayed him, and rumors suggest he promised to lead the English to his buried treasure before his execution.

After Kidd’s death, rumors immediately spread of his supposed buried treasure, apparently unaware of the fact that Kidd did indeed bury a small treasure on Gardeners Island that was found and used against him at his trial. Despite the discovery of a supposed silver bar in Madagascar being actually made of lead, to this day the treasure of Captain Kidd is still rumored to be out there. Kidd never considered himself a pirate; a true privateer, he was very unfortunate in his choice of crew, leading to his fateful trial. 

YouTube Rewind

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I should congratulate YouTube on making history this month; this year’s YouTube Rewind just became the most disliked video in the history of the platform. In celebration of this honor I will give a brief history of YouTube and the Rewind.

YouTube is a video-sharing website that has become an incredibly popular platform for animation, memes, and music videos. It was created by former PayPal employees in 2005, and its original intention was to serve as an online dating platform. YouTube also became the first site to broadcast sports for free, and by 2012, four Billion YouTube videos were being watched every day.

YouTube Rewind was created by YouTube itself in 2010, and at first it was used to show the top 10 YouTube videos of the year. In 2012, YouTube Rewind gained celebrity appearances from Psy and Carly Rae Jepson, as well as many popular YouTubers. It also featured the top memes of the year, making fun of the music video of “Gangnum Style” as well.

The yearly Rewind videos grew in popularity until 2018’s version, the video that gained the distinction of becoming the most disliked video of all time, partly because the person with the most subscribers on YouTube, PewDiePie, was left out of the video. Perhaps 2019 will be a better year for the Rewind.

The YouTube Rewind Button, introduced in 2013’s video.

Christmas Joy

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I hope you’ve enjoyed 2018 so far! Here are 5 fun facts about the history of Christmas as we celebrate the best time of the year.

  1. It is unlikely that Jesus Christ was actually born on Christmas Day; the date was chosen for celebration by Christians in place of a pagan holiday.
  2. The fame of Christmas was helped by the fact that Charlemagne was crowned by the Pope to be the first Holy Roman Emperor on that day in 800.
  3. Christmas was banned in England during the reign of Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell due to Puritans rejecting the holiday as part of the influence of the Catholic Church. Christmas was restored as a legal holiday after Cromwell’s death in 1660.
  4. Charles Dickens’s book A Christmas Carol saw the introduction of many of the traditional Christmas carols, including “The First Noel” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”. Dickens helped re-popularize the holiday in England with the book.
  5. Both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany (along with some Islamic countries) eliminated the Christian aspects of the holiday, with the Nazis replacing it with racial propaganda and the Soviets banning the holiday altogether. However, with the collapse of both regimes Christmas was restored in its traditional form.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and as we close the curtain on 2018, I say to you all; Merry Christmas!

2018: In Memoriam

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This has been a very eventful year, with everything from Donald Trump’s policies to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding being discussed worldwide, among other things. As we close the book for 2018, today we look back at some of the celebrities we’ve lost so far this year. How many names do you recognize?

January 15: Dolores O’Riordan. The lead singer of rock band The Cranberries, O’Riordan gained fame for her unique way of singing. Her most famous song is “Zombie”, a protest over the 1993 Warrington Bomb Attacks with over 800 million views on YouTube. O’Riordan was 46 years old upon her untimely death.

February 21: Billy Graham. Graham, one of the most influential Christian Evangelists of the 1900’s, is estimated to have preached live to over 200 million people (including my Dad). A staunch opponent of Racial segregation, Graham became an American icon, also becoming a spiritual adviser to every president from Harry Truman to Barrack Obama. Graham was 99 years old.

March 3: David Ogden Stiers. Stiers, an actor, was best known for his performance as Charles Emerson Winchester III in the hit war drama-comedy show M*A*S*H*, and for playing Cogsworth in Disney’s animated film Beauty and the Beast. Stiers was 75.

March 14: Stephen Hawking. Hawking overcame the paralyzing condition ALS to become a leading theoretical physicist best known both for his best selling book, A Brief History of Time and for his studies on Black Holes. Hawking was 76.

April 20: Avicii. Avicii, a Swedish DJ, revolutionized electronic music with his hit songs “Levels” and “Wake Me Up”. He was only 28 at the time of his death.

June 8: Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain became one of the most influential chefs in the world, partaking in his own shows Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and The Layover. Bourdain was 61.

August 16: Aretha Franklin. Franklin became known as “The Queen of Soul”, charting 77 songs on Billboard’s Top 100 and winning 18 Grammy Awards. She is widely considered to have been one of the greatest singers of all time. Franklin was 76.

August 18. Kofi Annan. Annan was the U.N. Secretary-General from 1997-2006 and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for having prioritized Human Rights as an issue. Annan was 80.

August 25: John McCain. McCain was a prominent American politician best known for running for President in 2008 for the Republican Party. McCain was 81.

August 26: Neal Simon. Simon, a playwright, is best known for having won more combined Tony and Oscar awards than any writer in history. Simon was 91.

September 6: Burt Reynolds. Reynolds became an icon for his starring role in films like Smokey and the Bandit and Cannonball Run as well as an Academy Award-nominated role in 1997 film Boogie Nights. Reynolds was 82.

October 15: Paul Allen. A Billionaire-Philanthropist who gained his fame and fortune from co-founding Microsoft, Allen also owned the Portland Trail Blazers (NBA) and Seattle Seahawks (NFL) in professional sports. Allen was one of four NFL owners to pass away in 2018, and was 65 at the time of his death.

November 12: Stan Lee. Lee is an icon of the comic book community for having co-created The X-Men, Iron Man, The Hulk, and Spider-Man, as well as having a cameo in every MCU Marvel Studios movie to date. Lee was 95 years old.

November 26: Stephen Hillenberg. Hillenberg is best known for his work as an animator-cartoonist, creating the hit children’s show SpongeBob SquarePants. He was 57.

November 30: George H.W. Bush. Bush, an American politician and the 41’st President, was best known for his policies while in office. If you want to see a more in-depth biography, simply click here, as i have already made a eulogy. Bush was 94.

We remember today the lives and legacies of these popular men and women, and remind ourselves that fame should not be the only cause for remembrance.

Houston, We Have A Problem…

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You’ve likely heard the phrase “Houston, we have a problem,” but did you know those were not the original words spoken? Today we delve into the story of Apollo 13, whose intent changed from landing on the Moon to a more urgent task: survival.

The Apollo 13 mission was commissioned by NASA to be the third journey to the Moon and was manned by James A. Lovell, Fred W. Haise, and John L. Swigert. Apollo 13 was launched on April 11th of 1970 amid a brief shutdown of the engine, an omen of the trouble awaiting the crew.  Over 50 hours into the mission, the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas requested that John Swigert turn on the oxygen tank stirring fans in the Service Module in order to increase the quantum reading’s accuracy. Shortly afterwards, the sound of an explosion was heard, a sound which the crew initially mistook for a meteorite hitting their spacecraft: one of the Oxygen tanks had short-circuited, causing a terrifying chain reaction. The electricity in the spacecraft was temporarily knocked out, and over time the Space Module’s oxygen and fuel reserves ran out. The crew immediately shut down the Space Module and entered the Lunar Module.

The crew of the Apollo 13 Mission. From left to right: Lovell, Swigert, and Haise.

The mission was aborted (thank goodness), but with limited power and water, the real challenge would be the proper use of limited resources needed to return to Earth safely. By this time, Houston and the rest of the World watched the unfolding terror as the crew decided to use the Moon’s gravitational pull to sling the spacecraft back into Earth’s atmosphere, a risky but essential move. The crew was able to successfully remove the potentially fatal amounts of Carbon Dioxide emitted, though there were many other possibly lethal problems. Eventually, the crew’s ingenuity paid off, and after a scary mission, they eventually landed in the Pacific Ocean safely on April 17.

The movie Apollo 13 starring Tom Hanks popularized the phrase “Houston, we have a problem,” but in reality, it was Jack Swigert who initially said “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” After Houston asked him to repeat his message, James Lovell responded “Uh, Houston, we’ve had a problem.” Still, the significance of this phrase obviously pales in comparison to the ingenuity and determination of the Apollo 13 crew, who avoided certain death and left us with a Historical event to be remembered.

Bush 41: A Legacy

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On the last day of November this year, the 41st President passed away. Today we celebrate the incredible journey he took upon himself.

George H. W. Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts on June 12th of 1924, and for the next 94 years he changed the course of American history. Even in his younger years Bush proved to be a leader, becoming President of the senior class of Philips University. The spirit of Patriotism that Bush acquired before embodying took firm root during World War II, where Bush was (at age 18) among the youngest servicemen in the military. A naval aviator, Bush was shot down by Japanese ground-flaks in 1944, an event that he later claimed caused him to wonder what God’s purpose for him was. Awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross, Bush soon married Barbara Pierce, leading to the longest-lived marriage of 73 years for an American President. Bush was a millionaire by the time he was elected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1966, and represented Houston, Texas. Although he lost a hard-fought race for U.S. Senator in 1970, President Richard Nixon appointed him Ambassador to the United Nations.

George H. W. Bush

Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Bush at first defended Nixon during the Watergate Scandal, but soon encouraged him to resign. Gerald Ford appointed Bush to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency. With his vast experience, Bush decided to run for President in the Election of 1980. With a heavy loss to former governor of California, Ronald Reagan, Bush decided to sell his home and relocate to the eastern coast. However, Reagan eventually made Bush his vice-presidential candidate and with the win, assumed his duties. Bush had a very good relationship with Reagan, probably helped by his famous refusal to become Acting President after a nearly-successful assassination attempt on Reagan. Bush remained Vice-President for all eight years of Reagan’s term, and was perhaps involved in the Iran-Contra Scandal, although no current proof exists.

Bush ran for President again in 1988, and this time won handily against first Bob Dole in the primaries and then Michael Dukasis in the general election. Bush is best-known for both his vastly successful foreign policy and his unsuccessful Economic Strategy. Bush oversaw the collapse of the Soviet Union begun by Reagan, and successfully forced Iran out of Kuwait during the Gulf War. 

“Read my lips: no new taxes.” These words best describe the reason for President Bush’s loss to Bill Clinton in the 1992 Presidential Election. The Economy suffered during his Presidency, the result of disagreements between the parties over how to curb the federal deficit. Bush was pressured by the Democratic majority to sign drastic Tax increases into effect, eventually plummeting his popularity and leading to him becoming the last to-date President to lose Re-election.

Bush visits American troops in Saudi Arabia, Thanksgiving 1990.

Perception of Bush’s Presidency has greatly increased since he left office, and Bush remained active in retirement, living to see his own son become President. To distinguish himself, he became known as Bush Senior or Bush 41. Bush even tossed the coin of Super Bowl LI! Bush was the longest-living President in history at the time of his death, and maintained his sense of humor and gentleness to the end.
President Donald Trump ordered that today be a national day of mourning for a country that has lost a veteran, a President, and a leader. I think the coolest moment during the funeral was when 95-year old politician and fellow veteran Bob Dole rose from his wheelchair and gave Bush a salute. No bitterness, just pure respect seldom seen nowadays. That’s what this country is about. That’s the kind of country I am proud to be a part of.

Fourth of July

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Every year on July 4, the United States of America celebrates the Fourth of July as the day that the U.S. declared independence from Great Britain during the Revolutionary War, and is one of the most beloved holidays throughout the year. However, what if I told you that July 4th was not in fact the day that the U.S. became an independent nation?

It is common knowledge that the Founding Fathers of the United States crafted the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July (Thomas Jefferson himself penned it), but a relatively obscure fact is that the Continental Congress voted to declare the U.S. a free nation on July 2, a full two days before the Declaration was made. Legally, the U.S. became an independent day on July 2; however the holiday is on the fourth. I think the reason why is obvious enough; the Declaration of Independence was a well-publicized announcement that caught the patriotic fever of a young nation and was created as an original American document, not one of British superiors. The Declaration of Independence also embodies American principle and continues to carry the heart of the nation through tomorrow.

America immediately began celebrating the publication of its most cherished ideas and in 1870, Independence Day became an official holiday. It has been 242 years since the Declaration of Independence was made, but we remember the sacrifices and triumphs of our American Revolution to this day.

 

Wyatt Earp

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My brother and I after one of Tombstone’s daily re-enactments of the infamous fight.

Wyatt is a name most commonly associated with the Old West gangster Wyatt Earp, known primarily for his fight at the O.K. Corral. However, there is more to my namesake that meets the eye, and much has been exaggerated over the years.

 

Wyatt Earp was born in 1848 and joined the Union army at the age of 13 with his brother Virgil, fighting in a few Civil War battles against his father’s wishes. Wyatt later joined his family in California but had trouble with the law (despite his ambitions to become a lawman), giving him the reputation of a sometimes-rogue constable. In 1879, Wyatt moved to Tombstone, Arizona, which was a new town with trouble brewing. Wyatt’s brothers Virgil and Morgan joined him there, and Wyatt became a deputy marshal with the hope of cleaning the town up. However, a band of cowboys (outlaws with quite a track record) led by Ike Clanton stirred up trouble, attempting to tarnish the Earp’s reputations.

On October 26, 1881, tensions came to a head, with abundant reports of the Cowboys being armed coupled with numerous death threats issued against the Earp’s and “Doc” Holliday, a friend of Wyatt’s. Virgil Earp, the Marshal of Tombstone, decided to bring his brothers Wyatt and Morgan (along with Holliday) to settle this disregard for authority. Virgil’s initial plan was to simply disarm the Cowboys (a group now consisting of Ike Clanton, his brother Billy Clanton, Wes Fuller, and brothers Frank and Tom McLaury), but the confrontation led to a standstill. Witnesses to the gunfights’ events (or who shot first) depended on the witnesses’ allegiances to either side, and thus the only evidence taken as true was a group of unaffiliated men who recounted the story. The fight lasted 30 seconds, but by it’s end Virgil, Morgan, and Holliday were wounded on the Earp’s side, while Frank and Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton were killed on the Cowboy’s side (Ike and Wes fled the scene).

The resulting trial was deadlocked; witnesses tied to either the Earp’s or the Cowboys testified to their favorite side’s version of events. However, the scales were tipped in favor of the Earp’s when evidence from the autopsy and unaffiliated witnesses’ testimony came in favor of the Earp’s version of the gunfight, and they were acquitted of murder charges. Shortly after the fight, Morgan Earp was assassinated in front of his brother (possibly murdered by Cowboys sympathizers) and Wyatt organized a posse to capture and kill the remaining Cowboys, undertaking a journey of revenge that only partially succeeded in defeating the Cowboys, though Wyatt’s drive for justice greatly improved his reputation.

Wyatt Earp died on January 13, 1929, having lived 80 years. His legacy has since been that of a lawman who stood up for the people of Tombstone and for his own family, and he is still known best for the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, in which he was not the sole hero or the main character of. Biographies after his death cemented his legacy as superior to his brothers and the Cowboys, but in reality Wyatt was only part of a story that has become a classic.

Fun Fact: the O.K. Corral is not actually where the fight took place. It really occurred on Fremont street, and the participants in the event were much closer than previously imagined (some a mere 7 feet away from the other party). In 2011, I even visited Tombstone to learn more about the most famous gunfight and gunfighter to ever roam the Wild West.