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And so this one time Senator Preston Brooks beat Senator Sumner half to death on the floor of the Senate

Preston Brooks - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Sumner gave an anti-slavery speech which angered Brooks. Brooks was going to challenge him to a duel, but then decided that Sumner didn't warrant that much respect. He beat him in the head with a gold-topped cane on the Senate floor. Sumner went on to press for equal rights for all peoples and be generally a badass. Brooks was popular in his home state after the cowardly attack but died a year later from the croup.
On May 22, 1856, Brooks beat Senator Charles Sumner with his Gutta-percha wood walking cane in the Senate chamber because of a speech Sumner had made three days earlier, criticizing President Franklin Pierce and Southerners who sympathized with the pro-slavery violence in Kansas ("Bleeding Kansas"). In particular, Sumner lambasted Brooks' kinsman, Senator Andrew Butler, who was not in attendance when the speech was read, describing slavery as a harlot, comparing Butler with Don Quixote for embracing it, and mocking Butler for a physical handicap. Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois, who was also a subject of abuse during the speech, suggested to a colleague while Sumner was orating that "this damn fool [Sumner] is going to get himself shot by some other damn fool." . . . Two days after the speech, on the afternoon of May 22, Brooks confronted Sumner as he sat writing at his desk in the almost empty Senate chamber. Brooks was accompanied by Keitt and Henry A. Edmundson of Virginia. Brooks said, "Mr. Sumner, I have read your speech twice over carefully. It is a libel on South Carolina, and Mr. Butler, who is a relative of mine." As Sumner began to stand up, Brooks began beating Sumner on the head with his thick gutta-percha cane with a gold head. Sumner was trapped under the heavy desk (which was bolted to the floor), but Brooks continued to bash Sumner until he ripped the desk from the floor. By this time, Sumner was blinded by his own blood, and he staggered up the aisle and collapsed, lapsing into unconsciousness. Brooks continued to beat Sumner until he broke his cane, then quietly left the chamber. Several other senators attempted to help Sumner, but were blocked by Keitt who was holding a pistol and shouting "Let them be!" (Keitt would be censured for his actions and later died of wounds in 1864 during the US Civil War.) Sumner was unable to return to his Senate duties for more than three years while he recovered. He later became one of the most influential Radical Republicans throughout the conduct of the American Civil War, and on through the early years of Reconstruction.

September 05, 2009

Just Ants, Doing Their Thing

YouTube - Unbelieveable!! Whole gecko rapidly eaten by ants!...

September 02, 2009

The Kopp-Etchells effect

TYWKIWDBI: The Kopp-Etchells effect
When helicopters pass through dust storms, contact of the particles with the rotating blades produces either sparks or static electricity. The phenomenon has been observed during combat operations in Afghanistan; Michael Yon has documented the effect, and has named it after two U.K. soldiers who died there.

September 01, 2009

A Valuable Lesson for All

In a follow up to this article, my small town's...

August 31, 2009

Who writes Wikipedia articles? Young men.

Only 13% of Wikipedia Contributors Are Women, Study Says - Digits - WSJ
The November survey, which had some 175,000 valid responses, was conducted in multiple languages by the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that operates the site, and United Nations University’s tech-research program MERIT. They presented the initial findings last week at Wikimania, an annual conference held this year in Buenos Aires. A comprehensive report is scheduled for November. Of the 53,888 respondents who said they contribute to Wikipedia, only 6,814 were women. The male/female ratio is closer among those who read entries but don’t write or edit them: 69% men to 31% women. The average respondent age hovers in the twentysomethings. Men tend to be a few years older, at 26, while women were 24 on average. Altruism and fact-checking are the top motivations of contributors, the study found. About 73% indicated “I like the idea of sharing knowledge and want to contribute to it,” while 69% said “I saw an error I wanted to fix.”

August 30, 2009

Who Causes Cyclists’ Deaths?

Who Causes Cyclists’ Deaths? - Freakonomics Blog - NYTimes.com
More than 52,000 bicyclists have been killed in bicycle traffic accidents in the U.S. over the 80 years the federal government has been keeping records. When it comes to sharing the road with cars, many people seem to assume that such accidents are usually the cyclist’s fault — a result of reckless or aggressive riding. But an analysis of police reports on 2,752 bike-car accidents in Toronto found that clumsy or inattentive driving by motorists was the cause of 90 percent of these crashes. Among the leading causes: running a stop sign or traffic light, turning into a cyclist’s path, or opening a door on a biker. This shouldn’t come as too big a surprise: motorists cause roughly 75 percent of motorcycle crashes too.