Monthly Archives: May 2013

Drinking the bubbly

One of the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles ending WWI was that only France could sell the bubbly as ‘champagne’. Since the United States never ratified the treaty ‘champagne’ can be sold from California or anywhere else in the United States.

(Great Courses – World War I)

Thin is good

The piece of marble from which Michelangelo made his statue David had laid around for years because it was considered too thin.

(Great Courses – Michelangelo)


Piano lessons

Franz Lizst once impressed his friends by taking a piece of music he had never seen, turning it upside down and then commenting on it while playing it.

Lizst’s critics complained that he often purposely composed music that was impossible to play, which might have been true except for the fact that he was able to play it.

(Great Courses – Great Masters: Liszt)


Rising sea level

The rising sea level is due to a combination of TWO issues. About 2/3 is caused by the melting of the land ice the polar regions. However as the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases the ocean temperature also increases. This means that the density of the water decreases which causes thermal expansion of the water. The thermal expansion of the oceans is responsible for about 1/3 of the rising sea level.

(Great Courses – Oceanography)

More Egypt

Cleopatra (actually Cleopatra VII) was Greek. She was the last in a line of Greek rulers of Egypt from the time when Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. She was the only Greek ruler of Egypt who learned how to read hieroglyphs.

(Great Courses – The History of Ancient Egypt)

Notes from the cold war

The USSR putting missiles in Cuba was Khrushchev’s plan to test the young American President Kennedy. It was all a bluff and the USSR never considered actually going to war over them.

The ONLY time the USSR ever considered the possible use of nuclear missiles was against China during their border disputes.

The USSR never had the amount of influence with the Arab countries that the US thought they had.

(Book – Breaking with Moscow – Arkady N. Shevchenko – the highest ranking Soviet official to defect, Under Secretary General of the United Nations)

Some interesting facts to start my blog

Due to the earths rotation the sea level in the western end of each ocean is up to 2 meters higher than sea level at the eastern end of the ocean. (Great Courses – Oceanography)

The bomb used at Hiroshima was a uranium bomb using the ‘trigger’ method. There wasn’t enough uranium to make any other uranium bombs so the first test at Trinity and the Nagasaki bomb were plutonium bombs using the ‘implosion’ method to trigger the device. (Book – Day of Trinity – Lansing Lamont)

When Hitler started his acquisitions of Austria and Czechoslovakia Italy was not an ally of Germany. Italy was wary of German expansion due to their own interests in that area.  By the time Germany attacked Poland in 1939 Italy had become an ally but still did not declare war on the Allies. (Book – The Second World War Volume 1 – Winston S. Churchill)

The Magna Carta was meant to be a peace treaty between King John and many of his barons. It didn’t work as civil war broke out in less than a year. After Prince John died the advisors of his successor Henry III reintroduced the document with some significant changes in order to undercut the barons who had asked Prince Louis of France to take England because they despised King John so much.  This revised document is the one that survived as the basis for future laws. In honor of JFK  the British gave the United States one acre of land at Runnymede. (Book – 1215:The Year of the Magna Carta – Danny Danziger)

There is no evidence that Martin Luther actually pinned his 95 Theses to a church door in 1517. This myth has become so widespread that it is often incorrectly quoted as fact by most people. (Great Courses – The Renaissance, Reformation and Rise of Nations)

It is a myth that Rome sowed the earth of Carthage with salt after Carthage was defeated. (Great Courses – The History of Ancient Rome)