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Government History SOI Blog

Lincoln’s head on Calhoun’s Body

Calhoun and Lincoln
Library of Congress images

Seems photo retouching is nothing new and goes back to the earliest days of photography.

After Lincoln’s assassination, there was a dearth of “heroic-style” pictures of the president. So one portrait painter got creative. On a print of the late president, Thomas Hicks superimposed Lincoln’s head onto the body of John C. Calhoun—the virulent racist and slavery proponent who did not exactly see eye-to-eye with the 16th president.

“The Great Lengths Taken to Make Abraham Lincoln Look Good in Portraits,” by Michael Waters

Great article on this subject: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/abraham-lincoln-photos-edited

Where I first heard this info:
https://www.pushkin.fm/episode/episode-2-deepfakes-and-the-future-of-truth/

Categories
Everyday Things Money SOI Blog Statistics

Gift Cards = 0% Loan to Business

On a recent episode of NPR’s Planet Money they discussed ways to help local businesses during the current Coronapocalypse. One way is to buy gift cards which act as a 0% loan from you to them.

The statistic that was mind bending is that Starbucks reported in a current financial report that they have $1.6 Billion in “stored value card liability.” In other words, customers have loaned Starbucks over a billion and a half dollars by buying gift cards, some of which may never be redeemed (some estimates as much as 7%).

Categories
Everyday Things Food History SOI Blog

Pepperoni is not from Italy

pepperoni pizza

According to Planet Money, pepperoni was actually developed in America.

Basically, pepperoni first starts to emerge in the early 20th century around the nineteen-teens, 1920s. And it was essentially Italian American immigrants who were trying to replicate the sausage that they had in Calabria and Apulia, which was known for its distinctive red color, with what they could get on the Lower East Side of New York. So it is this distinctly American thing. And the funny thing that Anthony told me is that now we actually export pepperoni back to Italy. So it is something that has become an American thing that is now going to Italy.

THE INDICATOR FROM PLANET MONEY

One reason pepperoni is popular as a pizza topping: it’s long shelf life.

THE INDICATOR FROM PLANET MONEY

Categories
History Podcasts Science SOI Blog

Honeybees are not native to North America

Photo by skeeze on Pixabay
bee skep
Bee skep

Honeybees were brought to America by the early European settlers. At that time, they use skeps, upside down woven bowls to maintain the bee hives.

In the mid 1800s a Presbyterian minister named Lorenzo Langstroth, discovered that the bees built their honeycombs by precise measurements, and incorporated this into the wood frame beehive that is still in use today.

99percent Invisible podcast on Beeing

Categories
Architecture Everyday Things SOI Blog Technology

Concrete is the 2nd most consumed substance in the world-behind water.

concrete blocks
Photo by 3093594 on Pixabay

Sometimes you hear statistics and they just don’t compute. I was recently struck by a couple after listening to a conversation with the author of The World in a Grain on the podcast 99% Invisible. I’m still having a hard time wrapping my brain around these.

The World in a Grain by Vince Beiser

We’re adding the equivalent of eight New York Cities to the world every single year.

Here’s another way to think about it. The amount of concrete that we use every single year is enough to build a wall 88 feet high, 88 feet wide right around the equator every year.

The World in a Grain, author Vince Beiser

99% Invisible website: https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/built-on-sand

The title on this post came from here:
https://concretehelper.com/concrete-facts/

Categories
Entertainment SOI Blog Sports

The NFL Is Not the Corporate Behemoth You Think It Is

On a recent Freakonomics podcast, Victor Matheson, a professor of economics at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts, pointed out that the NFL generates revenues of about 14-15 Billion dollars a year. And that sounds like a lot and to be sure the NFL is a cultural force in America. But when you compare it to other companies that have similar revenues, it’s just not that big. Matheson says that a business with similar revenue is the paint company Sherwin-Williams. “So the typical American buys as much paint from Sherwin-Williams as it does by buying N.F.L. products from the largest league in the world.”

The Freakonomics podcast is currently doing a series on sports that’s worth checking out.

And don’t forget the NFL operates with a special allowance that allows it’s owners to collude with one another, exempting it from corporate monopoly laws. Not to mention that up until 2015, the NFL operated as a non-profit 501c (although the individual teams do pay taxes on their revenue).

Categories
Architecture Everyday Things Government History SOI Blog

Air for Sale

I visited New York City for the first time this year. And yes, there are a lot of tall buildings, but if real estate is so precious, why are there not tall buildings on every block? Well, it seems you have to buy the air to put them in too. Planet Money explains:

https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2018/07/20/630949390/the-market-for-air

Categories
Everyday Things History Industry SOI Blog

LA was once covered in oil derricks

Surprisingly, Los Angeles, CA’s skyline was covered in oil derricks in the early days of the 20th Century. Another interesting fact: California accounted for a quarter of the world’s oil production in 1930. The full article at 99PI shows how some of these are still in plain sight today, only camouflaged.
Los Angeles Oil Derricks

Categories
Everyday Things Science SOI Blog Technology

Lawn Mowers Suck

I’ve mowed many a lawn in my day and never really gave much thought to how a mower really works. I just thought that blade was spinning around so fast that it just whacked the grass off. Turns out, there’s much more to it than that as Destin illuminates in his Smarter Everyday Video. If you’ve ever replaced a mower blade, the first thing you notice is how dull they appear.

TLDW: Mower blades create a vortex to suck up the blades of grass and hold them in position for the mower blade to cut them. If it did not do this, the blade would simply push the flexible grass blades down as it impacted them. (Hmmm, too many “blades” in this could be confusing. Maybe that’s a good riddle about a blade cutting a blade.)

Categories
Internet Science SOI Blog Technology

Is Li-Fi the Future of Wireless Connection?

Before today, I had not heard of this new technology. Sounds promising, but I’m not sure how far along in development it is. Time will tell!