National Toilet Paper Day

Toilet PaperHow The Chinese Saved The World – By Daniel W. Sheridan

As far as we can tell, it was on this day, August 26, 580, the Chinese invented toilet paper.

To truly appreciate this invention, we need to understand what life was like before toilet paper. Before this soft and sensitive wonder came into being, people used water, leaves, corn cobs, sticks, and stones. I read another account that claims people used broken pieces of pottery! Ouch!!!!

Now that we’ve gotten some pre-TP background, we’ll never take this amazing invention for granted again. Americans spend about four-billion dollars per-year on toilet paper, each person using between 35-50 pounds of it per year.

According to the Boston Standard Company, toilet paper was introduced in the U.S. by Joseph Gayetty, 1857. The paper came in flat squares embossed with Gayetty’s name. That name has been places!

Toilet paper rolls came out in 1883; the patent was held by Seth Wheeler. See the attached photo – it solves the ancient argument as to how to install it correctly!

Later, to satisfy the sophisticated user, colored toilet paper was invented.

But there are other uses for toilet paper for those of us who aren’t so sophisticated. Not only has toilet paper made our lives more comfortable, it has also provided some of us rascals with hours of devious fun. Toilet paper has been used to decorate weddings; and who hasn’t littered your best friend’s house and trees before a big High School football game? I remember one morning my parents waking up to strings of toilet paper hanging off the tree in my front yard. Oh, I got revenge. I think in the summer of 84 alone my friends and I dispensed about 1000 rolls in the trees of our friends’ houses.

Happy National Toilet Paper day! And wives, considering what life was like before toilet paper, cut your husband some slack the next time he doesn’t replace the roll! He might still be recovering from the broken pottery! Never take for granted this awesome invention.

Happy Book Lovers Day!

Happy #BookLoversDay

“Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.”

“To be without books,” exclaimed Ruskin, “is the abyss of penury; don’t endure it.” Books that we own after awhile become actual companions. “He that loveth a book,” says Isaac Barrow, “will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counsellor, a cheerful companion or effectual comforter. By study, by reading, by thinking, one may innocently divert and pleasantly entertain himself as in a weathers, so in all fortune.”

Let the toast be what Alfonso, King of Aragon was wont to say were the four best things of life: “Old wood burn! Old wine to drink! Old friends to converse with! Old books to read!” Sic itur ad astra.

Old Book Smell…“Lignin, the stuff that prevents all trees from adopting the weeping habit, is a polymer made up of units that are closely related to vanillin. When made into paper and stored for years, it breaks down and smells good. Which is how divine providence has arranged for secondhand bookstores to smell like good quality vanilla absolute, subliminally stoking a hunger for knowledge in all of us.”

—From Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez’s Perfumes: The Guide

John Ericsson: Swedish American Inventor Who Changed World History, Twice!

John Ericsson (1803 - 1889), Swedish-born inventor.  Original print in possession of National Archives.
John Ericsson (1803 – 1889), Swedish-born inventor. Original print in possession of National Archives.

John Ericsson: Swedish American Inventor Who Changed World History, Twice! – By Daniel Sheridan #OTD #History

John Ericsson, a Swedish-American inventor and mechanical and naval engineer, was born on this day, July 31, 1803, in Sweden.

In 1836, Ericsson invented the screw propeller for steam vessels which was a huge improvement over the paddle wheel. A few years later he moved to America, and American shipbuilders began to realize the greatness of this invention.
By 1838, steamships were making regular trips across the Atlantic bringing back with them laborers from Europe; thus, our population increased with the influx of creative talent.
Ericsson’s inventions also helped change the course of Naval and World History during the Civil War. The Confederates were dominating the seas with their iron-clad ship. John Ericsson, in just 100 days, invented the crafty “Yankee cheese-box on a raft” which to us is known as “The Monitor,” the Yankee iron-clad beast created to neutralize the Confederate beast.

On March 8, 1862, the Monitor encountered the larger Confederate Virginia.

“A multitude beheld the encounter…from the shores near and far. The superior size and armament of the Virginia were neutralized by her unwieldiness and depth of draught. The Monitor, more active, and passing everywhere over shoal or thrThe_Monitor_and_Merrimacough channel, could elude or strike as she chose. Neither had much power to harm the other; each crew behind its shield maneuvered and fired for the most part uninjured…On the morning of that day both North and South believed that the Confederacy was about to control the sea. The anticipation, whether hope or fear, vanished in the smoke of that day’s battle. With it, too, passed away the traditional beauty and romance of the old sea-service: the oak-ribbed and white-winged navies, whose dominion had been so long and picturesque, at last and forever gave way to steel and steam.”

Ericsson has been described as one of the most influential engineers of all time. He was without doubt nineteenth century America’s greatest Naval engineer and a genius with an indomitable zeal.

The First Amendment: How Colonial Hatred Of Other Christian Sects Ultimately Led To Religious Liberty

The First Amendment: How Colonial Hatred Of Other Christian Sects Ultimately Led To Religious Liberty – By Daniel W. Sheridan
The Colonies were far removed from each other. They were different in their social customs, their vocations, and their religions.
Some think that religion united the colonies. Far from it. The Puritans hated the Quakers and vice-versa. The Quakers said that the Pilgrims prayed on Sunday and preyed on people the rest of the week. The Puritans called the Quakers the flock of Cain. Their hatred was deep enough to lead to the shedding of blood – in the name of God!
Each colony was self-absorbed having little interest in the others. The colonists had a sense of local allegiance, a local patriotism. The colonies eventually united when facing a common danger and a common enemy in Great Britain, but even then it was a miracle they united.
So what was it that united them?
Their outward ways and beliefs were completely different, but their political institutions were alike. They had a common English heritage of self-government. That’s the unifying factor. Constitutional Scholar Andrew McLaughlin puts it strikingly,
“From one end of the land to the other they spoke the same political language, cherished the same ideas, believed the same fundamental doctrines…”
That was what united them. Their religion, industry, and social customs kept them far apart; violently apart. But they were unified on political principles. They spoke a different language when they talked about religion, social customs, and vocations; but they spoke the same language when it came to self-government. If they sang their political beliefs as a choir, they’d rival the Moorman Tabernacle Choir when it came to harmony. But if they sang in Church together on Sunday you’d have to stop your ears from the discordant noise.
Their hatred for each other’s religious beliefs didn’t cease after the Revolution. That’s why they wrote the First Amendment:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
The Puritans didn’t want the “flock of Cain’s” religion anywhere near the national Government and Quakers didn’t want the “preying” Puritan religion there either. The First Amendment is based on Christian sects’ distrust of each other.
Freedom of religion must be recognized as one of the inalienable rights of man, which lies in the sacred domain of conscience, beyond the restraint and control of politics, and which the government is bound to protect as much as any other fundamental right.

The Federal Highway Act: America’s Landscape and Culture Forever Changed

Eisenhower HighwayThe Federal Highway Act – By Daniel Sheridan

On this day, July 12, 1954, a plan was put forward which brought about one of the greatest changes in the American landscape and culture.

My parents remember vividly the political climate of the 1950s. They recall going to Chicago beaches and seeing signs everywhere bearing the slogan, “I Like Ike.” In the 1970s, when I was a child, my father got me hooked on coin collecting. He would snatch up every Eisenhower silver dollar he came across to add to my collection, those were my favorite. My prized possession was my double-headed Eisenhower silver dollar, a misprint of some kind. My friends always wondered why I won every coin toss determining who bats first, and I’ve yet to this day revealed my secret!

The former General was courted by both parties, but he ended up running and winning as a Republican. The cold-war was raging and Ike seemed like the perfect man for the job under such circumstances. Over 75-million people watched President Eisenhower’s inauguration on TV.

Ike, having seen enough of war, longed for peace. He downsized the military and used the extra money to improve our quality of life at home, his infrastructure improvements making the most impact. Ike pushed through Congress the largest public works project in American history, a project which forever changed the American landscape and way of life.

On this day, July 12, 1954, Ike put forward a plan for an interstate highway system called, “The Federal Highway Act.” Congress approved it in 1956 and work began almost immediately. The largest road-building project in American History called for the laying of 41,000 miles of road over a thirteen year period at the cost of 32-billion dollars.

Ike sold the act as a national security measure. If there was a nuclear attack, the roads would provide rapid routes for people fleeing the cities; in case of Soviet invasion, the roads provided maneuvering routes for the U.S. military. Thankfully, they were never utilized for these purposes! Instead, the military project provided for the peaceful transportation of people and goods.

The Federal Highway Act forever changed the American landscape and culture. The mid-50s saw an economic boom as a result of the cold war spending and wages had doubled since World War Two. As a result, people’s idea of the American dream was altered. Before World War Two, most people lived in cities, found jobs close to home, and were content to stay where they were for the rest of their lives. But in the 50s the people, because of their higher wages, were driving bigger cars and living in bigger houses, and because of the new highway system eighty-percent of those houses were being built in the suburbs. By 1960, the suburban populations equaled the cities. The Federal Highway Act is largely responsible for this change of landscape and culture.

Ike was worried about the spending, however, as the Act accounted for half of I Like Ikethe budget. Ike’s final message to the American public was a solemn warning about the Military Industrial Complex.

Next time you drive the Interstates or visit a suburb, remember the slogan, “I Like Ike.”

“Old Man Eloquent:” Defender of the Rights of All Mankind, Including Slaves! By Daniel Sheridan

John Quincy Adams MemeJohn Quincy Adams, son of John Adams, the second President of the United States, was born on this day, July 11, 1767, in Massachusetts.

John Quincy witnessed firsthand the birth of our nation. When a young child, he watched the Battle of Bunker Hill from a distance; at the age of eleven he accompanied his father on a diplomatic mission to France; at fourteen he became the private secretary to the American minister at St. Petersburg; at eighteen he returned home after extensive travels through Europe; at twenty he graduated from Harvard.

After Harvard, John Quincy became a professor at Harvard, a Boston lawyer, and he represented America in five European capitals. He was known as a man of learning, of blameless reputation, and a genuine lover of his country.

John Quincy became a member of the United States Senate, then Secretary of State under James Monroe. On December 2, 1823, President Monroe sent a message to Congress which set forth the famous Monroe Doctrine; John Quincy Adams was its author.

There were four candidates for President in 1824: Adams, Henry Clay of Kentucky, Andrew Jackson of Tennessee, and William Henry Crawford of Georgia. None of these received a majority of the electoral votes so the decision fell to the House of Representatives (as provided for in the Constitution at that time). They chose John Quincy Adams as the 6th President of the United States.

Many complained saying the political elites in the House chose the President. Things looked fishy to some. Here’s why:

Henry Clay was the Speaker of the House. Clay hated Jackson because he accused Clay’s fellow Kentuckians of being cowardly during the battle of New Orleans. Now Clay could control Jackson’s fate. Clay swayed the voters toward Adams, and after Adams was elected, Clay was chosen as the Secretary of State. Jackson claimed it was “corrupt bargain” and his supporters were angry. These circumstances contributed to a tumultuous four years while John Quincy was in office.

I think to properly judge John Quincy Adams with regards to this stormy election and the accusations that were hurled at him, we must consider his subsequent career. First of all, there’s no proof of a “corrupt bargain.” Partisan political insinuation isn’t proof.  However, an accused man’s subsequent behavior speaks volumes, as we shall see.

Adams had big plans as President. He wanted to explore the west and implement a type of “new deal.” To connect the states, Adams wanted the Federal Government to build new stone roads and canals. During his administration, in 1825, the Erie Canal opened. The following year the first railroad of the United States was completed. President Adams also wanted to create a National University, a National Astronomical Observatory, and promote scientific advancements.

Congress, however, wouldn’t cooperate. They shot the President’s plans down saying they were unconstitutional. But it seems personal motives, rather than Constitutional principles, guided many Congressmen in their opposition. Adams, because of the circumstances surrounding his election, was unpopular with the Jacksonians – they despised him. Adams lost re-election.

Some think that once a person serves as President any other job is “beneath” him. John Quincy Adams didn’t think so. Two years later he returned to Congress where he remained for the next sixteen years. There John Quincy Adams took the lead in the fight against slavery and was outspoken against secret societies. Even in his advanced age he was so skillful and energetic in debate people started calling him, “the old man eloquent.” His fame as the champion of popular rights only increased with every year.

John Quincy Adams fought for these rights to his dying day, literally! He suffered a stroke while on the house floor and lingered in and out of consciousness for two more days. His last words were,

“This is the last of earth; I am content.”

Does this sound to you like a man who made corrupt bargains? Time has been on John Quincy’s side. Some of his contemporaries didn’t like him, mostly because they were motivated by partisan politics. John Quincy’s character, however, has been vindicated by his career. His ideas and plans, though shot down by his contemporaries, were promoted by future Americans and are lauded by many to this day.

“Roll, years of promise, rapidly roll round, till not a slave shall on this earth be found.” John Quincy Adams