Thursday, July 31, 2008


Richard Drew

Richard G. Drew invented one of the most practical items to be found in any home or office: transparent adhesive tape.
When Drew, a banjo player, joined 3M in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1923, it was a modest manufacturer of sandpaper. While testing their new "Wetordry" sandpaper at auto shops, Drew was intrigued to learn that the two-tone auto paintjobs so popular in the Roaring Twenties were difficult to manage at the border between the two colors. In response, after two years of work in 3M's labs, Drew invented the first masking tape (1925), a two-inch-wide tan paper strip backed with a light, pressure-sensitive adhesive.

The first tape had adhesive along its edges but not in the middle. In its first trial run, it fell off the car; and the frustrated auto painter growled at Drew, "Take this tape back to those Scotch bosses of yours and tell them to put more adhesive on it!" (By "Scotch," he meant "parsimonious.") The nickname stuck---to Drew's improved masking tape, and to his greatest invention, Scotch (TM) Brand Cellulose Tape (1930).

This, the world's first transparent tape, added a nearly invisible adhesive, made from rubber, oils and resins, to a coated cellophane backing. The adhesive was waterproof and withstood a wide range of temperature and humidity, because it was designed to seal cellophane food-wrap. But the public, forced by the Great Depression to be thrifty, found hundreds of uses for it at work and at home, from sealing packages to mending clothes to preserving cracked eggs.
Drew's creativity not only brought great financial success, it helped transform 3M into an R&D-driven company. His tape was helped along by the first tape dispenser (1935), and was perfected in Scotch (TM) Brand Magic (TM) Transparent Tape (1961), which never discolors or leaks, and can be written on while remaining invisible itself.
Today (especially at holiday gift-wrapping time) Richard G. Drew's transparent adhesive tape remains one of the most pervasive and practical inventions of all time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Today's PC printers traces its roots back to the very first of all individual printing machines, the typewriter. This first mechanical printer served as a means to add legibility to writing, to eliminate the vagaries of cursive script and remove its ambiguities and misunderstandings, to make the transcribed word as formal as the work of the printing press.

As initially conceived, the typewriter was hardly the breakneck-paced device we came to know in the generation before PCs. It was hardly able to keep up with the fleeting fingers of the scribe. The mechanism was slow and clumsy, prone to jamming, requiring force and memory to make work. As most, two fingers first did the work. It took more that 20 years to develop the modern concept of touch typing with all tem. The men who had to labor over the machines pecked the typewriter into the expected standard for business papers and correspondence.

Despite its initial disadvantages, the typewriter paved the way for the computer printer. It set a high standard, indeed, for the quality of its output. Type characters could be trusted, whereas hand lettering could not, although banishing errors entirely was an arduous chore, as anyone suffering through an academic dissertation in the days before the PC can attest.

The same technology underlying the humble typewriter has survived through to today and served as the foundation of the first computer printers. In fact, some primitive PC printers back in the days when hackers were hobbyists rather than criminals were electrified typewriters modified to hammer on command.

Although an old fashioned typewriter is a mechanical complexity, its operating principle is quite simple. Strip away all the cams, lever and keys and you see that the essence of the typewriter is its hammers.

Each hammer strikes against an inked ribbon, which is then pressed against a sheet of paper. Ink is absorbed into the paper then, the ink leaves a visible mark. A letter of the alphabet is born.

Epson claims to have invented the personal computer printer, having introduced its first model, the MX 80, in 1978, three years before IBM introduced the PC. In fact, IBM's first printer offering, the graphics printer, was manufactured change in ROM to reflect IBM's choice in character set. The dot matrix printer flourished, but slowly gave away to the laser printer.
The first revolution in personal printing in 100 years came in 1984 with the introduction of the HP LaserJet. The basis of this new technology was the same as used by a Xerox photocopier, although the print engine in the LaserJet use a kind of heatset light inspired offset printing. The laser printer now claims the majority of printers that are sold.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Rum has always tended to favor and flavor rebellion, from the pirates and buccaneers of the seventeenth century to the American Revolution onward. In addition, sugar and rum pretty much introduced globalization to a waiting world, tying together Europe, the Americas, Africa and the Caribbean in a complex alcoholic web of trade and credit. Not until oil was any single commodity so important for world trade. So it is not surprising that the Bacardi Corporation has become one of the world's first transnationals.

Even before Fidel Castro took power, the Bacardi family moved its headquarters from its Cuban home to the Bahamas, allowing it to get British imperial trade preferences, while opening a large distillery in Puerto Rico to allow penetration of the American market. Now its management is mostly living in exile in Florida, monopolizing the local markets across the Caribbean and the world with its bland, branded spirit. Fifty years of marketing have made Bacardi almost synonymous with rum in much of North America, and as Thierry Gardère, maker of the acclaimed Haitian rum Barbancourt, pointed out with a pained expression to me once, "They always advertise it as mixed with something else."

In Prohibition-era America, lots of thirsty Americans went to Cuba, and what they drank there, in keeping with the ambience, was rum, usually in cocktails and often in bars favored by Fidel's onetime fishing partner, Ernest Hemingway. He made a clear distinction: "My mojito in La Bodeguita, my daiquiri in El Floridita."

Cuba made great rums and had some of the world's most renowned bars. Bacardi had really risen to prominence after the American occupation, or "liberation" (sounds familiar?), of Cuba, at the turn of the twentieth century, when the island became the playground for its northern neighbor. Barcardi built its market position during Prohibition, edging out the old New England rum. When the Eighteenth Amendment took force, Bacardi USA sold 60,000 shares, closed down the company and distributed its assets, coincidentally 60,000 cases of Bacardi rum, to the stockholders.

During the dry years the company's order books would suggest that there were unquenchable thirsts in Shanghai, Bahamas and tiny islands like the French enclave of St. Pierre and Miquelon, off Newfoundland. But of course, shiploads of Bacardi went to rendezvous with the rum-runners just outside American territorial waters. As soon as repeal was in sight, Bacardi litigated all the way up to the Supreme Court to open its business in Puerto Rico, where it was eager to get Caribbean costs combined with American nationality. Its rivals in Puerto Rico used the same style of targeted retrospective legislation that Bacardi later did against Castro's Cuba in an attempt to keep Bacardi out. In the first year after Prohibition, Bacardi sold almost a million bottles to the United States. But soon it was not selling it from Cuba. Despite the family's overt and noisy Cuban patriotism, the company pioneered outsourcing and supplied the United States from Puerto Rico. Cuba's share of American rum imports dropped from 52 percent in 1935 to 7.3 percent in 1940.

In 1955 Bacardi moved its trademark to the Bahamas, perhaps in gratitude for the islands' help in keeping the product moving during Prohibition, and also because that made it eligible for British Commonwealth preferences. Its offshoring from Cuba proved very prescient when Castro nationalized the Cuban operations in 1960, which was as much a shock to Bacardi. The Bacardi building had greeted the arrival of Fidel, Che and the compañeros with a banner saying simply "Gracias, Fidel!" In common with some other rum producers, they had supported the rebels financially. In 1959, Castro's trade delegation to the United States had included Juan Pépin Bosch and Daniel Bacardi, two of the family's heads. Neither side dwells on these happy days any more. The company is still held by 600 descendants of the founder, so it does not have to file financial statements or submit to valuations as if it were listed on stock exchanges, and in any case, with sales in 200 countries adding up to 200 million bottles, no one could be sure which stock exchange it would list on.

As its record shows, Bacardi is the original multinational. Its trademark is now held in Liechtenstein, one of the most secret and secure banking centers in the world, which contrives to be "offshore" in the middle of the Alps. However, while attending to business, the Bacardi family has never missed a chance to get its own back on Castro. Bacardi clan chief Juan Pépin Bosch brought a touch of the old connection between buccaneering and rum back to life in 1961 by buying a surplus US Air Force B-26 Marauder medium bomber in order to bomb a Cuban oil refinery. Later he was the money behind a plot to assassinate Castro. For many years Bosch was a major financier for the Cuban American Lobby and a major litigator who brought the United States to the verge of trade wars with the rest of the world. The technique has been to lobby legislators to exercise their anti-Cuban prejudices, regardless of general principles of international or indeed domestic law, and then to pay lawyers to implement the resulting legislation.

Bacardi was spurred into action when Castro's government went into partnership with the French liquor giant, Pernod Ricard, to market the renowned Havana Club internationally. Even though excluded from the US market by the embargo, Pernod was able to sell 38 million bottles of Havana Club in the first few years. In anticipation of an end to the Cuban embargo, it was gearing up for big sales in the United States. This was a challenge both political and commercial to Bacardi, which set to firing retaliatory legal broadsides and to the rediscovery of its Cuban roots.

Bacardi, wherever it is made, had for some decades tried to bury its Cuban origins, but in the 1990s it went into reverse. Its labels began to mention prominently that the company was founded in Santiago de Cuba in 1862 while eliding mention of where the rum was actually made currently. In 1998, "rum and Coke" or "Bacardi and Coke" suddenly became known as a Cuba Libre again. To match the myths, various stories were circulated to celebrate Cuba Libre, claiming that it had been invented by an American in 1898 to celebrate the American victory over the Spanish in Cuba.

The original makers of Havana Club, the Arechabala family, had fled the country after the Revolution, leaving the distillery and the brand behind. The family did not renew its trademark, which lapsed in 1973, and in 1976, the Cuban state export company registered the century-old brand with the US Patent and Trademark Office. Twenty years later, Bacardi sought out the Arechabala family members and bought out whatever suing rights they may have had. Reportedly, Bacardi paid them $1.25 million after the family had spurned offers from Pernod Ricard, which was attempting to cover its back. Bacardi, happy to tweak Fidel's beard, began selling a rum with the Havana Club label (made in the Bahamas) in the United States in 1995, and Pernod sued. The case was going in Pernod's favor, as the Manhattan judge initially made her rulings based on existing law. Then the Bacardi family cut the Gordian knot. Using political clout in Florida, it got the law changed by persuading lawmakers to smuggle a clause into a large spending bill specifically to exempt trademarks nationalized by the Cubans from the usual international protections unless the original owner had agreed to hand them over. And of course, the Arechabalas had not.

In the end, the judge broke new legal ground by accepting this retrospective and clearly privileged legislation as binding, since Pernod wanted an injunction against future use of its trademark. Judge Shira Scheindlin decided: "At this point, because plaintiffs can sell no product in this country and may not be so able for a significant length of time, they suffer no impairment of their ability to compete as a result of defendants' actions. Any competitive injury plaintiffs will suffer based upon their intent to enter the U.S. market once the embargo is lifted is simply too remote and uncertain to provide them with standing."

It was yet another case of the United States flouting treaties and international law, and the judgment is not recognized anywhere else in the world--a point emphasized by the World Trade Organization shortly afterward.

Even so, the US patent office threw out Bacardi's attempt to register other names containing Havana, because the company was claiming a spurious connection to Havana, which could have confused drinkers who thought they were buying rum from Cuba.

When Pernod pushed the European Union into filing a dispute with the WTO, Bacardi complained, in a manner that almost defines the term "disingenuous" from a family that had just secured private legislation: "Pernod Ricard has pressured the EU into filing a claim with the WTO in an attempt to politicize a purely civil dispute. Bacardi views this as a private civil matter and one that is not connected in any way to world trade laws or the WTO." Others begged to differ, not least when Castro announced that Cuba could abrogate US trademarks, such as Coca-Cola, in retaliation. The WTO itself found in 2001 that the American law violated free-trade agreements, and the US trademark office has refused to revoke Pernod's registration despite even more litigation and lobbying by Bacardi, helped by alleged illegal campaign contributions to Congressman Tom DeLay, yet another politician who might be laid low by the demon rum.

Perhaps the ultimate weapon was used when Castro threatened in 2001 to start producing a rum in Cuba called Bacardi. The US State Department, not good at seeing itself as others see it, promptly declared this to be a provocation. In the meantime, the European Union has effectively been bullied into taking no action to enforce the case it has won at the WTO. Castro himself has an occasional talent for expediency. One of the first winds of change that he got from the Soviet Union was when Mikhail Gorbachev cut back imports of Cuban rum as part of his anti-booze campaign. In 1999 the Cuban leader, who had already given up the trademark cigars that regularly put him on the cover of Cigar Aficionado magazine, went one step further; he urged Cubans to give up rum as well and warned that anyone who wanted rum over the New Year "will pay dearly for it." He asked an assembly of medical students, "How much damage has rum caused in any society?" He even lamented that there were "supporters of the revolution who like to toss down a few once in a while." Cynics assumed that the supplies for the growing export market for Cuban rum were threatened by domestic demand.

While Fidelistas may berate Bacardi for its feud with Havana Club, rum aficionados almost universally deplore the company for the effect it has had on rum. Gresham's law observes that bad money drives out good; Bacardi has achieved this with rum. Its bland ubiquity has been driving the distinctive rums of the world from the mass consumer market. It is the equivalent of American cheddar driving out the 300 cheeses of France. Its monopoly power has been used to keep much better, genuinely local Caribbean brands from reaching takeoff. The islands cannot compete with subsidized and tariff protected high fructose corn syrup and Floridian sugar grown by former Cuban barons, so their one chance to market a value-added branded commodity is frustrated by the transglobal black bat.

Republicans used to inveigh against the Democrats as the party of "Rum, Romanism and Rebellion," but now Bacardi has the GOP in its pocket, it symbolizes the complete turnaround of political positions.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Felix Hoffman, a German Chemist

The effects of aspirin-like substances have been known since the ancient Greeks recorded the use of the willow bark as a fever fighter. The leaves and bark of the willow tree contain a substance called salicin, a naturally occurring compound similar to acetylsalicylic acid, the chemical name for aspirin. Many people are curious about who invented aspirin. While no one person invented aspirin, the origin of aspirin as we know it came about through research. Aspirin discovery was actually the result of the work of several aspirin inventors. In 1897, a German chemist with Friedrich Bayer and Company was searching for a treatment for his father's arthritis pain and produced the first stable form of a product introduced as Aspirin. By 1899, The Bayer Company was providing aspirin to physicians to give to their patients. Here is a timeline that shows the origins of aspirin, the history of its development, and some of the people who invented improvements and contributed to making aspirin the pain reliever and preventive measure that it is today:

400 BC Greek physician Hippocrates prescribes the bark and leaves of the willow tree (rich in a substance called salicin) to relieve pain and fever.

1832 A German chemist experiments with salicin and creates salicylic acid (SA).

1897 Chemist, Felix Hoffmann, at Bayer in Germany, chemically synthesizes a stable form of ASA powder that relieves his father's rheumatism. The compound later becomes the active ingredient in aspirin named - "a" from acetyl, "spir" from the spirea plant (which yields salicin) and "in," a common suffix for medications.

1899 Bayer distributes aspirin powder to physicians to give to their patients. Aspirin is soon the number one drug worldwide.

1915 Aspirin becomes available without a prescription. Manufactured in tablet form.

1920s Used to treat symptoms of pain related to rheumatism, lumbago & neuralgia.

1948 Dr. Lawrence Craven, a California general practitioner, notices that the 400 men he prescribed aspirin to hadn't suffered any heart attacks. He regularly recommends to all patients and colleagues that "an aspirin a day" could dramatically reduce the risk of heart attack.
1952 Children's Chewable Aspirin is introduced.

1969 Bayer Aspirin tablets were included in the self-medication kits taken to the moon by the Apollo astronauts.

Early 1970s Medical world began to understand how aspirin works when scientists discovered that it inhibits the production of chemicals, called prostaglandins, that are involved in inflammation.

1984 Toleraid® microcoating (clear coat) is added to Genuine Bayer Aspirin to make the tablets easier to swallow.

1988 The use of aspirin expands beyond pain relief to that of a potential lifesaver. The FDA proposes use of aspirin for reducing the risk of recurrent MI (myocardial infarction) or heart attack and preventing first MI in patients with unstable angina. The FDA also approved the use of aspirin for the prevention of recurrent transient-ischemic attacks or "mini-strokes" in men and made aspirin standard therapy for previous strokes in men. In addition to its role in heart attack and stroke prevention, research continues to explore aspirin's possible role in prevention of colon, esophageal cancer and other diseases.

1988 The aspirin component of the Physicians' Health Study (PHS; NEJM), a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 22,071 apparently healthy men, was terminated early due to a statistically extreme 44% reduction in the risk of a first myocardial infarction (MI). Dr. Charles Hennekens, the lead author of the study, later conducted a meta-analysis of this and four other aspirin trials and found an overall 32% reduction in CVD events.

1996 Twice as many people choose aspirin over the personal computer as an invention they couldn't live without in a national survey on inventions conducted by MIT.

1998 The results of the Thrombosis Prevention Trial (TPT; Lancet) clearly confirm the effectiveness of ASA in the prevention of MI in persons having cardiovascular risk factors.

1998 The Hypertension Optimal Treatment study (HOT; Lancet) is the first to demonstrate a beneficial effect of low-dose ASA in addition to antihypertensive therapy in the prevention of myocardial infarction and major cardiovascular events in patients with treated high blood pressure.

2001 The results of the Primary Prevention Project (PPP; Lancet) add to the evidence that low-dose ASA is effective in the prevention of cardiovascular events, especially myocardial infarction, in persons at increased vascular risk.

2003 Bayer filed a Citizen's Petition with the FDA to broaden the professional labeling of aspirin to include an indication for prevention of a first heart attack in individuals at moderate or greater risk of coronary heart disease. This important step follows guidelines from the American Heart Association and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommending aspirin therapy be considered for those at moderate risk for a cardiovascular event, as defined by a 6-10% or greater risk over a 10-year period. The petition is currently under review by the FDA.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Ancient peoples cleaned their clothes by pounding them on rocks or rubbing them with abrasive sands; and washing the dirt away in local streams. Evidence of ancient washing soap was found at Sapo Hill in Rome, where the ashes containing the fat of sacrificial animals was used as a soap.
Scrub Board
The earliest washing "machine" was the scrub board invented in 1797. American, James King patented the first washing machine to use a drum in 1851, the drum made.

King's machine resemble a modern machine, however it was still hand powered.

Rotary Washing Machine

In 1858, Hamilton Smith patented the rotary washing machine.
In 1874, William Blackstone of Indiana built a birthday present for his wife. It was a machine which removed and washed away dirt from clothes. The first washing machines designed for convenient use in the home.

Mighty Thor

The Thor was the first electric-powered washing machine. Introduced in 1908 by the Hurley Machine Company of Chicago, Illinois, the Thor washing machine was invented Alva J. Fisher. The Thor was a drum type washng machine with a galvanized tub and an electric motor. A patent was issued on August 9th 1910. View US patent #966677.

Facts About a Few Famous Washing Machine Companies

The Maytag Corporation began in 1893 when F.L. Maytag began manufacturing farm implements in Newton, Iowa. Business was slow in winter, so to add to his line of products he introduced a wooden-tub washing machine in 1907. Maytag soon devoted himself full-time to the washing machine business.
The Whirlpool Corporation started in 1911 as the Upton Machine Co., founded in St. Joseph, Michigan, to produce electric motor-driven wringer washers.
The origins of the Schulthess Group goes back over 150 years. In 1909, they began production of their first washing machines. In 1949, the Schulthess Group backed the invention of punched card control for washing machines. In 1951, production of Europe's first automatic washing machines started. In 1978, the first microchip-controlled automatic washing machines were produced.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Some may wonder "who invented popcorn"?

Popcorn has been a favorite snack literally for centuries. It is unclear who the first person to actually invent popcorn, however the oldest ears of popcorn found to date were discovered in a bat cave off west central New Mexico in 1948. The bat cave popcorn ears are gauged to be approximately 4,000 years old. That proves that Americans have literally been snacking on popcorn for centuries! Popcorn was "invented" by other people in the world as well. It is probably safe to assume that popcorn was popular in places where corn was grown as a major food source. In 1519, Cortes saw popcorn when he invaded Mexico and first met the Aztecs. Popcorn was important to the Aztec Indians as a food source. But, they also made necklaces and decorated their headdresses with popcorn. It has been recorded that the Peruvian Indians in the 16th century were also using popcorn. Popcorn has been very popular in America. From the 1800s until the Great Depression, street vendors would sell it using steam or gas-powered popcorn poppers. The very first commercial popcorn machine was invented by Charles Cretors in 1885 in Chicago, Illinois. There are even old fashioned poppers that'll give your popcorn the same old time flavor that first hooked our society on popcorn. Popcorn was priced at about five or ten cents a bag during the Depression, and it was a little luxury that most families could afford. This meant that the popcorn business still did well through the Depression. A favorite treat during the late 1800s through the early 1900s was the popcorn ball. Popcorn balls are simple to make. Many people still enjoy them today, and make them especially for the holiday season. People in the 1800s also ate flavored popcorn. Some favorite flavorings include rose, honey, molasses and sugar. Popcorn was also used to make wonderful holiday decorations like garlands that draped the Christmas tree or fireplace mantle in many Victorian households.

Friday, July 25, 2008


PAMPLONA, Spain, JUNE 30, 2005 (Zenit) - Who invented marriage? Can the law "meddle" with something as personal as marriage?
These are some of the questions answered in this interview with us by Father Juan Ignacio Bañares Parera, a canon lawyer from the University of Navarre.
Father Bañares has just written a book on "The Conjugal Dimension of the Person: From Anthropology to Law," published by Rialp and the Library of the Institute of Sciences for the Family of the University of Navarre, of which he is a director.
Q: What is the conjugal dimension of a person?
Father Bañares: The human person exists fashioned as a feminine or masculine person. Both are persons, but they are so in a different way.
Despite the popular expression "to find my other half," woman and man are not "halves of anything": because a half is only half of something; because half is identical to the other half; and because half of anything does not interact with the other half: it contributes more of the same.
Instead, this differentiation between a feminine and masculine person, which is established in the very structure of the personal being, comprises the whole person -- in the physical, psychic and spiritual dimension -- and implies a potential of enrichment for each one, which constitutes complementarity.
From whence arises the possibility to communicate, to love, and to give oneself to the other specifically "insofar as man or woman," that is, in what is conjugable.
We might call the character or generic dimension of being woman or man "spousalness," as a dimension that soaks the whole personal structure of the human being, and conjugal dimension the possibility that this complementarity offers to constitute oneself woman or man in a union in nature: the conjugal partnership. United here are the truth of nature, the sovereign strength of freedom and the grandeur of the ends.
Q: According to the book, a person is led naturally to marriage. But there are other options in life, such as yours, the priesthood. Can you explain this?

Father Bañares: I would prefer to say, not that a "person is led naturally to marriage," but that the person is naturally structured to be able to enter marriage: the anthropological assumptions exist in all human persons.

However, although marriage is "possible" for all, it is up to each one to decide freely to exercise this fundamental right of the citizen and faithful.
In turn, the decision to remain single can have many reasons, some very worthy and of great nobility. But I understand that, not only the priesthood, but all apostolic celibacy is neither a form of bachelorhood -- no matter how worthy the latter may be -- nor an initiative of the individual: It is always a gift of God and a response of man.
In this connection, and in keeping with John Paul II's thought, it can be said that in celibacy as a vocation, man or woman gives him/herself totally to God, also according to the structure of his masculinity or her femininity. So, the spousal dimension of the human being can be the basis for making oneself a gift to God through the gift to the other -- and that is to constitute the conjugality, marriage -- or giving oneself directly to God, without the mediation of a creature.
Let's be clear: This does not mean to minimize marriage. On the contrary, it means to underline that marriage is not only an option of two people but the will of God through the other in the personal journey of sanctification and evangelization, and in the contribution to the Church and to civil society.
Q: Who invented marriage?
Father Bañares: Marriage was designed by God's love. It is offered by the reality of nature, it is constituted by the freedom of the man and woman and it is "received and witnessed" by society, as an inherent relationship of justice.
Q: Can the law "meddle" -- these are your words -- in something as personal as marriage, you ask in your book, and you argue that it can. Why?
Father Bañares: In fact, it's not that the law "meddles," but that marriage has within itself relations of justice.
Conjugality is established in the order of being -- one "is" husband, as one "is" father, mother or daughter -- but in making a gift of oneself in all the masculine or feminine dimension, the future is being committed. That is, one gives oneself not only for an instant, but for all time.
That, obviously, is the consequence of love, which wills to give itself totally and without drawing back. But at the same time it is a relationship of justice.
After "being" spouses, the conjugal and family behaviors are "due." Given that the "being" has been given -- in that dimension -- in view of some ends, the "doing" is equally given, which is the opening proper of the free human being in his historical dimension, in his temporality.
The role of society through the law consists in regulating the exercise of the fundamental right of the person, in recognizing -- in an appropriate way -- the sovereignty of the spouses, and in protecting the truth of the institution itself.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


A shekel
First known Bank-note

Money means different things to different people — to you it may mean coins, notes or credit cards. To some people in developing nations it may mean beads, shells, acorns or human toes. In short, money is whatever we think has value.

The first written records of the use of money date from 1200BC, in the area of land now known as Southern Algeria, although then it was covered with water. Inscriptions in stones record that 'twelve shekels' were paid into the bank account belonging to Algar Hammurabi, in return for 'use of his daughter'. Twelve shekels in today's money would buy you hundreds of prostitutes, all better looking than Hammurabi's daughter, who was by all accounts rather dull.
But let us not get too carried away, because a monetary system existed long before Hammurabi's daughter was bought and sold. That was a system known as bartering.
Bartering Bartering is the word we give to a system known as bartering. This involved exchanging goods rather than paying for them. Bartering was invented in Ancient Egypt around the time of Moses. It meant that, for instance, a bag of potatoes might be swapped for a tin of peaches, or a candle may be swapped for a brown shawl made out of potato sacking, or whatever it was they wore in those drab times. Legend has it that Marco Polo swapped his owls for a ship, without which he couldn't have circumnavigated right around the world, in 987AD.
Bartering is still alive and well today in the school playground — when you trade Pokémon cards for Smurfs or whatever crap you're into nowadays, you are bartering!


What did a shekel look like? Well, some examples survive. They are large pieces of solid silver, about the size of a baby's kidney, inscribed with the face of the ruler of the time. They were worth about $700 (2 euros) each in today's money! When the Algerian Empire was overrun by Chinese around the time of Abraham, the coins became worthless.

However, the Chinese realised the enormous value of coinage but had no metal to make them, so instead they used reeds. One reed could be woven into an exquisite decorative coin, 2 inches in diameter (circumference). Now everyone in China became a billionaire, which lead to great economic prosperity, until the great reed disaster of 610BC. At this time goods were still manufactured but no-one could afford to buy them, until Emperor Xiang hit upon the idea of using rice. The Chinese word for rice — dulla — has become the familiar word 'pound' which is still used today.
Despite the Chinese, metal was the substance of choice for coin-making civilizations. The Nigerian Awaka people used coins made from strontium-190, until their race mysteriously disappeared around the time of Christ. When the Japanese invaded Africa they copied the idea, punching holes in their coins to ward off evil spirits. Not sure how that worked, but there you are.

Paper Money

Frustrated that they could not carry loose change in their togas, the Romans invented paper money around 1000AD. When Emperor Claudius ran out of money, he wrote IOU notes, promising that he would pay 100,000 lira (that's about 2 shillings) to his debtor. When Claudius fled to Spain around the time of Elija, he took the idea with him, and it was in Barcelona that the first true banknotes in the world were printed. To this day, Spanish notes carry the face of Claudius, who was known in those days as Miguel I.
So, that is how money was invented.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Fried chicken is famous for its roots in the rural American South. There is a dual origin. The Scots, and later Scottish immigrants to many southern states had a tradition of deep frying chicken in fat, unlike their English counterparts who baked or boiled chicken. [1] Later, as African slaves were introduced to households as cooks, seasonings and spices were added that are absent in traditional Scottish cuisine, improving the flavor. Since slaves were often only allowed to keep chickens, frying chicken as a special occasion spread through the African-American community. After slavery, poor rural southern blacks continued the tradition since chickens were often the only animals they could afford to raise. Since fried chicken could keep for several days, it travelled well, and also gained favor during segregation when blacks normally could not find places to eat and had to carry their own food.Southern whites also continued the tradition of frying chicken. While not limited like blacks socially, poor whites were no better off economically. Therefore, fried chicken countinued to dominate as "Sunday dinner" or on other special occasions.Another version of Fried Chicken is made by the Chinese, in which the chicken is seasoned and fried in oil. Because the Chicken is not breaded, the fat from the chicken skin is "fried out" into the oil creating a "paper thin skin" that is very light and crispy. Thus, the chicken dish is known by direct Chinese to English translation as "Paper Fried Chicken" ("zha zhi ji" "炸紙雞"). This version of the fried chicken probably supercedes the appearance of both its Scottish and American counterparts with respect to time in chronological history.

Monday, July 21, 2008


The History of 'le' Champagne

The beginningThis might surprise you, but the English rather than the French were the ones who invented Champagne in the 17th century. And with the word "invented" I mean making sparkling wine deliberately, and through a reproducible process. The first French documents that refer to Champagne date from 1718. These papers report that the first time this happened was around 20 years earlier (bringing the date to circa 1698). In England however, Sir George Etheredge made mention of sparkling wine as early as 1676. We now know that a sparkling wine actually becomes sparkling by way of a second fermentation. The trick in bringing about this second fermentation lies in the addition of sugar. Well then, in 1662 a mister Christopher Merret, tells us, in an article called: "Some observations concerning the ordering of wines" by the Royal Society, how sugar was added on purpose in order to achieve a sparkling wine.The French version of the history is that Dom Perignon, a merry French monk from Hautvillers (1638-1715) was the one who invented Champagne. The cheerful chap however did not start messing about with bottles of the bubbly stuff in Hautvillers until 1668. Although Dom Pérignon fiddled with wine for god knows how long, there are some who assume that he did not quite understand why the stuff turned sparkling. Reproducible wasn’t a term which could very well be applied to his experiments.Another French version of the true origin of Champagne is that the monks of St. Hilaire in the south of France had begun making sparkling wine as early as 1531. The substance was made following the rural method ("excusez mon French"). The second fermentation using this method is done in the vat. In actual fact it is not so much a second fermentation as a prolonging of the first. The stuff that these days is still made in this fashion is called Blanquette de Limoux.Bureaucracy is of all times so as early as in 1600 in France all kinds of rules and regulations were issued, making things rather uncomfortable. One of them was the prohibition of transporting bottles of wine. This now was a bit of a nuisance because of the simple fact that Champagne is made in bottles and therefore cannot be transported in a vat. In 1728, 38 years after the birth of Champagne, this rather absurd ban was sent to kingdom come and as a result Champagne houses start to shoot up left right and centre.Ruinart was the first Champagne house (1729), followed by Chanoine (1730), Taittinger (1734), Moët (1743), Abelé (1757, Clicquot (1772) and Heidsieck (1785. The house of Gosset claims to be the oldest because it was already established in 1584. This is entirely true but till far in the 18th century it delivered still wines only.
The early yearsThe fact that many a person believes Dom Pierre Pérignon to have invented the bubbly stuff is more of a smart PR gimmick than anything else. Yes indeed, even monks "do" PR. In this specific case our jolly fellow was helped by the folks from the house of Moët et Chandon. M&C bought the rights for the name of Dom Pérignon from Mercier. Ever since that day the myth that Dom P. invented Champagne is cleverly exploited by not quite stupid M&C marketing boys (and/or girls). Having said that, it should be remembered that Dom P. did make a mega contribution to the development of Champagne. He has devoted many a decade of his life trying to manage the bubbly stuff. For which, by the way, I would hereby like to thank him from the bottom of my heart.

Our dear Dom had a rather jolly career, to get back to the subject. He once started with the production of quality wine and got extremely frustrated by the fact that his wine kept on containing CO2 (carbon dioxide). He never got a lucky streak in his efforts to diminish the CO2. Quite the opposite, every effort he made only led to bigger quantities of CO2 in his wines. Heedful of the motto: "if you can’t beat them, join them" he went on to pursue his experiments, but now on wine containing CO2. The dear soul has come up with quite a few clever inventions. The harvesting of the grapes was done in the first day of summer. Dom P. came up with the idea that harvesting at a later time would lead to fresher and more elegant wine. This is how it came to be that even to this date harvesting is done in September. These days every year, a date is fixed at which the harvest may begin at its earliest. A number of houses begin that very day. Several other houses, like for instance M&C deliberately wait a few more days before starting to collect the grapes. Dom P. has invented the horizontal Champagne press. He had decided that the grapes should be pressed as close to the vineyards as possible. Before then the grapes were first transported to a central place. The greater part of the grapes however turned out to be so badly crushed by the time they got there, that making quality wine from what was left was out of the question. Another thing that DP found out was that the grapes should be pressed very gently to achieve the best quality. The pressure in a wine press should be no more than that which can be applied between a persons thumb and forefinger. To this date the grapes are pressed immediately next to the vineyards with the exactly the pressure that can be exerted between thumb and forefinger.As you may know, the grapes were pressed in three stages. Dom P. was probably the first to press the grapes three times. Today the third pressing is banned. Last but not least our jolly monk found out that in order to make real quality Champagne, different types of grapes should be mixed. To this very day most of the Champagnes are made of a combination of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes. He also had to tackle the problem of exploding bottles. D.P. eventually came to the conclusion that English made bottles were needed, the so called "verre anglais". The first bottles of Champagne “as we know them" were produced by D.P. in 1690.Now Dom Oudard was another merry monk who was fiddling with the bubblies. He arrived at more or less the same conclusions as Dom Pérignon but had the disantvantage of having to work with mainly Chardonnay grapes that at that time were not as highly appreciated as the Pinot Noir grapes that were our friend Pérignon’s favourite hobby material.During the first years of Champagne making there was another problem to be dealt with. The quantities of yeast and sugar that had to be added to the bottle to make the fermentation process take a proper course were not exactly known. Overdoses of yeast were regularly administered, which had the funny side effect of startling sounds of explosions emerging from the cellars. As for my personal experiences with yeast. Let’s say I am not too keen on the stuff. I used to drink a bottle "Duvel" (Belgian beer) every now and then, but the blasted yeast at the bottom of the bottle brings on splitting headache and easily gets you plastered. (The first being even worse than the latter).

Anyhow, Mr. Clicquot’s widow, the famous Veuve Barbe Qlicquot had taken over the business from her late husband, and for want of better ways to spend her time, tinkered with bottles and made the brilliant discovery that if a bottle was put upside down and twisted a little, the yeast and other clutter sank to the neck of the bottle.However cleverly this was noticed, it was a little too much to sit around all day with a bottle upside down in one’s hand (especially when not permitted to open it). So, Madame Clicquot came up with a solution by having holes drilled in her splendid oak table, and subsequently putting the bottles in them with the cork facing down. All you needed to do now was to shake the bottles every now and then in order to loosen the yeast from the inside of the bottle. The result was a bottle with the sediment nicely settled the neck, which still had to be taken out before clear Champagne was obtained. Remuage is the term for the technique of shaking the bottles. Although Mme. Clicquot started it, the other producers wasted no time imitating the trick.M. Francois is the inventor of the "densimetre" (or "sucre oenometre"). This device is capable of measuring exactly how much residual sugar is left in the wine after the first fermentation. Having done that it was easy to determine how much yeast and sugar had to be added for the second fermentation in the bottle. The invention of this tool finally gave the Champagne makers more grip on the quality of the final product and helped circumvent the problem of bottles exploding due to a slightly over-enthusiastic fermentation process.

Napoleon was another interesting chap, who put away a bottle or two in his time. One cannot help to wonder if his daily intake had something to do with the queer way he wore his hat. Historians and scientists alike have not decided on the matter, but what is known for a fact is that on his way to work our belligerent fellow often dropped by at Epernay to restock his supplies before he got cracking. He and the mayor of Epernay at the time, Jean Remy Moët were close pals. As you can see Moet was into PR even at that time. It must be said that it wasn’t exactly a smart move to go against the wishes of the Emperor, so why not merrily join him in drinking a glass or two. And since Napoleon had his own unique style of travelling, several bottles were exported inadvertently. According to legend, Napoleon only fought one battle without replenishing his Champagne supplies. Does the battle of Waterloo ring a bell? Well now, here is as good a reason as any for me to always fit in a quick stop at Reims on my way to my favourite ski-resorts. One never knows….

Apart from being a Champagne producer, Eugene Mercier was an extremely shrewd businessman. He understood even then, that marketing a product is at least as important as the quality of the product. Judging from their conservative and arrogant approach of the market and its customers, this is a fact to which many a modern producer in the region still has trouble to adhere to.During the period of the Belle Époque (around 1890) Eugene thought up a couple of good stunts. For the occasion of the World Exhibition, his buddy Gustav Eiffel had built a cute little tower in Paris. In order to celebrate this marvel Eugene had a wooden barrel built, which could contain 200.000 bottles of Champagne. He then had the barrel with the contents, hauled from Epernay to Paris by 24 white oxen. In trying to do so, he found a slight obstacle on his way; or rather he found there was no such thing as a way. The Champagne riots had broken out only just before, and a few apparently rather upset winegrowers had seen fit to do a little wrecking of roads and towns in the region. Bearing in mind the motto: "you win some, you lose some" Eugene had the roads rebuilt, demolished a few extra houses that were in the way, and went on his way with his little barrel and his 24 oxen, so that three weeks later he could enjoy a glass or two under that tower of his buddy. Good stunt: the biggest tower with the biggest barrel, big fun and lots of exposure.To this day the locals go up the Eiffel tower with a bottle in hand to celebrate birthdays or whatever other satisfactory excuse for a celebration. I myself have done it too, and I can recommend anyone with an ounce of romance in his or her body to give it a go too.Eugene also realised that the Multimedia phenomenon might very well suit his purposes. It is obvious that this marketing visionary was well ahead of his time. The impressive way in which Eugene conducted business still reflects on the Mercier firm today. This is most obvious when you visit the cellars of Mercier. The Mercier fellows made a wonderful multimedia spectacle of an in itself boring phenomenon: the caves at the Avenue de Champagne at Epernay. Customer friendliness is still held in high esteem at Mercier’s. Cellars are open 7 days a week the year round. The house conducts multi-lingual tours, great tasting sessions and has a liberal supply of gadgets on offer in the shop. Chapeau Gentlemen! Regrettably Mercier does not rank amongst the quality Champagnes. It nonetheless is the best sold Champagne in France. Another clever marketing trick dreamt up by later generations is the Demi-Sec Rosé Champagne by Mercier. It is the only Rosé which comes in the Demi-sec type. It is something you have to like though.Maurice Pol-Roger was mayor of Epernay during the Second World War. He was also the owner of the well known brand Pol Roger. Maurice was a big fan of his own Champagne and could always be found carrying with him one of his own bottles whenever he went on his way (another one of those life-lessons for me). One way or another the French There was certainly no love lost between the German occupiers and the French. Herr Hitler was of opinion that Champagne production should be continued so that bottles of bubbles could be sent to the frontline. Being a true patriot Maurice decided to sabotage the production. The quality of Champagne was deliberately brought down (why on earth pamper the occupying forces) and with a lot of glee transports were sent the wrong way. The Law and order loving Germans were not amused by this demonstration Gallic humour. Many a time, particularly towards the end of the war, they threatened to burn Epernay, its prestigious cathedral, the cellars and the vineyards to cinders. Not that Herr Hitler and his buddy Himmler were prone to pyromania. More important was the fact that the Germans had the promotion of their own Sekt in mind. The latter is of course a lot easier when competition is eliminated. This seems like rather drastic marketing techniques which I don’t think were ever applied anymore. The resourceful French however had hidden a substantial stock of Champagne in their cellars behind blind walls. Yet Germans were not entirely debilitated and succeeded in finding a number of cellars and while at it smashed them to smithereens.Winston Churchill however, was a man who thought the world of Maurice Pol-Roger’s sense of humour. It is known that as a result he consumed a bottle of Pol-Roger on a daily basis. As a matter of fact Churchill cherished the thought that drinking the stuff was always appropriate in defeat as well as in Victory. The dapper man was also a lover of a good cigar and decided that Champagne and quality cigars was a "marriage made in heaven". So here is another lesson that I learnt. According to some of his bolder statements concerning Rhodesia, Churchill’s son in law Christopher Soames took over some habits of his father in law. In analogy with Napoleon’s time honoured strategy he armed himself with 30 bottles of Pol-Roger and decided that within 30 days he had to bring the war in Rhodesia to a settlement.Robert Jean de Vogue is another man who left his imprint on the Champagne. During the Second World War he was boss of Moët et Chandon and made the unsavoury proposition to drastically raise the price of grapes in the Champagne area. Till this very day the price of grapes are not determined conform the market and supply and demand but are centrally fixed. As consumer and (stingy Dutchman) I am against this measure of course but on the other side I must admit it has its merits. Thanks to the artificial high margin on the grapes some more time and money can be invested in obtaining high quality. This of course leads to the superb quality of “LE” Champagne from “LA” Champagne that we enjoy so much, preferably on a daily basis.For his participation of the sabotage of the production and transportation of Champagne to the Wehrmacht, Robert Jean was sentenced to death by the Führer of La Champagne,Kleibisch. Probably a little angel was perched on his shoulder for the sentence was never executed.
Rules and regulationsThe trade-mark of Champagne is surely one of the best protected in the world. The gentlemen of the "Comité Interprofessionel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC)” are doing their utmost to prevent any form of improper use of the name. Within Europe they were quite successful. Within the Common Market their guidelines have now been registered as law. Folks “across the waters” however tend to be less conscientious. Since many years already rules and regulations concerning Champagne are strict but clear.In December 1908 the ruling government decided that Champagne could only be called Champagne if the grapes originated from a neatly defined area in the Marne and Aisne area. This immediately antagonized the winegrowers outside of the area who had never the less for a long time delivered their grapes to the Champagne makers. The farmers from the Aube area for instance were not really happy.In February 1911 guidelines were further accentuated by penalizing manufacturers who used grapes from Aube for their Champagnes. This triggered the infamous Champagne riots. These riots got terribly out of hand. On the 11th of April 5000 angry Champagne farmers from the region of Aube formed a mob and went through the official Champagne region, rampaging and demolishing everything within their reach. Rumour has it that streets were awash with wine and Champagne. 40.000 "peacekeepers" were called in and ruthlessly restored law and order. Both infrastructure and Champagne houses were severely damaged by these raging battles. In 1927 the law was adapted and a second Champagne zone was added to the official Champagne region, which enabled farmers from the Aube and Seine-et-Marne region to once again deliver grapes for Champagne.In June 1036 the Appelation d’Origine Controlée (AOC) for Champagne was established. At that time it was necessary to include that distinction on the label. As of now this acronym has lost its purpose as Champagne may only be called Champagne if produced from grapes originating from an area that has been approved by the AOC.

La belle EpoqueWhile the Champagne was busy repairing the damage of the riots Paris was having a ball. The interbellum was a period that is widely known as "the roaring twenties". Champagne was flowing liberally. Clubs like Maxim’s and the four restaurants on the Eiffel tower greedily exploited the apparent prosperity Fine combinations of exquisite food, excellent Champagne saw the day and at extravagant parties the "jet-set” was charlestonning like mad. At that time however, Champagne was limited only to the rich and famous. Now that is something I don’t agree with. Therefore I decided to call my business "Champagne un-limited. I wish I had lived during that period I think I would have fitted in effortlessly. It was not to be alas, for my parents weren’t around at that time.
After the warThe years after the war brought more and more democracy in Europe As a result all of a sudden Champagne was "not done". Even today some Marxist moralists see fit to condemn my rather liberal Champagne consumption. A few economical crises as well as some meagre harvests contributed to a further decline in Champagne consumption.The image of Champagne was suffering. Champagne was associated with houses of ill (if merry) repute. In the eyes of many Dutch Calvinists, people who drank Champagne were often to be found in these despicable places. You had better steer clear of the bubbles and drink other beverages preferably free of alcohol if you did not want to be seen as a lecher.
Champagne todayAt the moment the economy is the main spoilsport. Yet I am not terribly worried about the situation. I observe more and more people enjoying a glass of bubblies during the year. They don’t necessarily wait till 00.02 on the first of January. The image of Champagne is on the rise. Drinking Champagne is no longer "not done". Especially the younger more affluent generation regularly sips a glass of Champagne without embarrassment. Once again Champagne is fun.Of course I hear the weirdest things. I was told that at some House parties combining XTC with Champagne is the latest fad. As a genuine Champagne lover I am not taking part in this nonsense of course, but such behaviour seems to be "cool". Also rumour has in that in Belgium there is a house of pleasant virtue where Viagra Champagne is poured. A bit greenish but with appropriate side-effects (The nature of which I will not describe here). Further developments are the sprouting of dedicated Champagne shops. Also the variety in choice at off-licences increases day by day. Roads to The Champagne stand for pleasant driving and lots of people cross the border to go and have a look, which is something I can highly recommend.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Cheese is an ancient food whose origins predate recorded history.
Cheese was really more discovered then invented thousands of years ago. Proposed dates for the origin of cheesemaking range from around 8000 BCE (when sheep were first domesticated) to around 3000 BCE. The first cheese may have been made by people in the Middle East or by nomadic Turkic tribes in Central Asia.
But there is no conclusive evidence indicating where cheesemaking originated, either in Europe, Central Asia or the Middle East, but the practice had spread within Europe prior to Roman times and, according to Pliny the Elder, had become a sophisticated enterprise by the time the Roman Empire came into being.
Man stored milk in containers. When the right sort of skins or barks were used, some of it fermented and became cheese. Over time and with much experimentation, they discovered ways of making it happen on purpose. This provided a good way of storing things through the winter and when other food supplies were scarce.
There are many variations of the following legend, but it probably all started something like this: There was an Arab merchant who had to cross a desert, as he often did, to trade. As was the standard practice, he filled his canteens with water -- these canteens were actually animal intestines that were tough and waterproof. He filled one of them with milk instead of water, and when a few hours later he held it up to drink, he found it had solidified. The reason is that cheese needs rennet, a compound found in the lining of a cow stomach, to synthesize into cheese. The canteen naturally had this stuff in it, and thus cheese was born!
Butter was sort of discovered the same way, agitation of milk in skins made butter.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


The Arachnipod is a versatile, light-weight modular scaffolding system which can be quickly erected in a huge variety of configurations depending on the requirements of the situation.
About the Inventor
Gavin Broadly is from Coolum Beach on the Queensland Sunshine Coast. He has been working in the rescue equipment industry for a number of years and his interest in actually designing equipment has developed over that time. Mike Walrond lives in the Brisbane suburb of Redcliffe. He is originally from South Africa, where he worked as a rescue paramedic and paramedic instructor.
For more information about Arachnipod, contact the following:Ph. 1800 804 647Email:

The Arachnipod is a versatile, light-weight modular scaffolding system which can be quickly erected in a huge variety of configurations depending on the requirements of the situation. Put simply, it’s like Meccano for the rescue industry! And just as with Meccano, you can begin with a basic starter kit and add components as the need arises. The Arachnipod is based around the concept of an industrial tripod, but the unique hinge design of the modular head means the Arachnipod can be constructed into many different configurations including a gin pole/monopole, bipod, tripod, quadpod, bridge system and handrail recovery monopole. The Arachnipod has been specifically designed to be simple and extremely quick to assemble in any emergency situation. The sections flat pack for easy transportation and once at the location you simply grab the legs you need, align the hinges and lock together with the pin. A simple tripod can be assembled in about 20 seconds.Because it is modular, you also have the advantage that all the components can be quickly split up and carried separately if you need to travel by foot to get into inaccessible terrain. For example, in a few seconds you can take a tripod apart and 3 people can carry a leg each over their shoulder. Although initially designed for use in rescue and emergency services, the Arachnipod’s versatility also makes it an ideal system for workers in industries such as construction, military, utility services, mining, film industry and for maintenance personnel.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Orbita 3-Style Mouse
The Orbita 3-Style Mouse has turned the mouse 360°.
About the Inventor
Laurence has been an inventor since he was little! At the age of seven he appeared on the show ‘What’ll They Think of Next!” in 1980 with his ‘do anything’ machine. He was a software and web designer and developer before retraining in Industrial Design. The Orbita mouse was his student design project, and he’s progressed it himself for six years, until recently partnering with an Australian company to take the product to market.

For more information about Orbita 3-Style Mouse, contact the

How it Works

The Orbita 3-Style Mouse has turned the mouse 360° making possible high-resolution three-axis movement with a plug-and-play mouse interface! The design replaces the typical ‘scroll wheel’ with a freewheeling unit that has eight times the sensitivity of a normal mouse, and thanks to its internal electronic compass, this mouse always maintains its orientation.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Shadow Caddy
The Shadow Caddy is a three wheel robotic caddy that, like a human caddy, carries the golfer’s clubs for them, and follows them around the golf course.

About the Inventor
Hubert Novak

Melbourne Victoria

Hubert likes to ride dirt bikes and fly remote controlled helicopters.

Michael Hamilton, Melbourne, Victoria

Michael likes to play squash.

For more information about Shadow Caddy, contact the following:

The Shadow Caddy is the first commercially available robotic autonomous vehicle which follows its operator while carrying his or her golf clubs, bag, drinks etc without the golfer having to focus on the buggy. The Shadow Caddy allows the golfer to just play and enjoy the freedom of walking. The technology that allows the Shadow Caddy to do this can be easily adapted to a wide variety of uses.The Shadow Caddy follows a transmitter which sends out a radio frequency signal. The Shadow Caddy picks up the signal through two spaced apart antennas which are each linked to a receiver.The Shadow Caddy follows its operator at a set distance (programmable) and accelerates and decelerates, turns and stops as the user does. It tracks the operator to within mm. with the equivalent of 3 PC's on board, it processes the signal at 50 times per second allowing the caddy to be able to climb, descend and traverse hills which most people would struggle with. The shadow caddy also incorporates a collision detection system to protect the user or an object if a collision is going to occur. The current application is for the golf industry however, the technology could be adapted into many other industries.

Online Discussion
Read what others have said or have your say.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


A sandwich toaster is an electrical appliance used to toast sandwiches. It was invented by John O'Brien.

Here is his story:

In the 1970s, a man called John O'Brien sniffed the wind and saw the world was changing.
It wasn't just bad fashion and big hair. More women were entering the work force and families were looking for quicker ways to cook dinner. John had six kids, and when they went camping, they loved the jaffles they cooked over the fire so much he decided to import some toasted sandwich-makers from the only place in the world where they were being made: Belgium. He used Newcastle as a testing ground and they sold like hot sandwich-makers. John then tried to get 250,000 more, but the Belgians told him no. "Stuff 'em! I'll build my own," he thought, "but mine will be better." Toasted sandwiches back then were too big and too messy: a culinary treat that was booby-trapped. And when you bit into it, anything could happen. John invented the scissors action, which automatically cut and sealed your toasted sanger. The late John O'Brien patented the scissors action and turned the world of toasted sangers upside down. His company, Breville, have now sold over 23 million sandwich-makers around the world. John O'Brien, we salute you.

Back to facts about the sandwich maker:
Ordinary kitchen units generally consist of indented hot plates, clamped together around the sandwich. Usually two sandwiches can be toasted at a time. The plates are heated by electrical coils inside the appliance. Usually the exterior is somewhat separate from these to ensure the outside of the unit does not get too hot. The plates often clamp tightly around the edge of the sandwich, sealing in the filling. The use of a special sandwich toaster seals the edges of the sandwich and may place a diagonal line across it, preventing the filling from spilling out. Typical toasted sandwiches are a grilled cheese sandwich, tuna melt, or patty melt.

The appliance is known by various names around the world, including toasted sandwich maker or jaffle iron in Australia and South Africa, toastie maker in the United Kingdom and New Zealand {sometimes quixie iron or quicksie iron in New Zealand}. Breville, manufacturers of some of the earliest sandwich toasters, is sometimes eponymously.
Toasted sandwiches are also known by various names. They are frequently called toasties in Britain, brevilles or jaffles in Australia (also brevilles in South Africa). Jaffles are so named after the original jaffle iron (U.S. English: "pie iron"), a long-handled hinged iron implement for toasting sandwiches in a campfire. Sandwich toasters are less common in the United States where grilled cheese sandwiches are more popular.

Friday, July 11, 2008


12th Century Chess pieces.

The game of Chess has been attributed to the Indians both by the Persians and by the Arabs. However, the origin of the game remains lost in antiquity. The words for chess in Old Persian and Arabic are chatrang and shatranj respectively — terms derived from chaturanga in Sanskrit, which literally means an army of four divisions.
Chess spread throughout the world and many variants of the game soon began taking shape. This game was introduced to the Near East from India and became a part of the princely or courtly education of Persian nobility. Buddhist pilgrims, Silk Road traders and others carried it to the Far East where it was transformed and assimilated into a game often played on the intersection of the lines of the board rather than within the squares. Chaturanga reached Europe through Persia, the Byzantine empire and the expanding Arabian empire. Muslims carried chess to North Africa, Sicily, and Spain by the 10th century. The game was developed extensively in Europe, and by late 15th century, it had survived a series of prohibitions and Christian Church sanctions to almost take the shape of the modern game. The modern times saw reliable references works, competitive chess tournaments. and exciting new variants add to the popularity of the game, further bolstered by reliable time mechanisms, effective rules and charismatic players.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Coffee in the office is just like whiskey at the bar. If you get up and leave it, high chance your friends will do somethig to it for their amusement. They may put salt, pepper or more sugar to name a few thigs commonly done to trick coffee drinkers.

Well, this cup can help prevent that sort of thing from ever happening again. It is a cup with a security gadge so you can close down your content and your tricky friends have no access to it.

So what do you think of this invention?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


The kaleidoscope was invented by Sir David Brewster, a Scottish scientist, in 1816, and patented (GB 4136) by him in 1817. He named his invention after the Greek words, kalos or beautiful, eidos or form, and scopos or watcher. So kaleidoscope means the beautiful form watcher. Brewster's kaleidoscope was a tube containing loose pieces of colored glass and other pretty objects, reflected by mirrors or glass lenses set at angles, that created patterns when viewed through the end of the tube.

Later in the early 1870’s, an American called Charles Bush (1825-1900) improved upon the kaleidoscope and started the kaleidoscope fad. Charles Bush was granted patents in 1873 - 1874 related to improvements in kaleidoscopes, kaleidoscope boxes, objects for kaleidoscopes (US 143,271), and kaleidoscope stands. Bush was the first person to mass manufacturer his "parlor" kaleidoscope in America.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


The ancient Greeks were the first to invent the elevator. They made an elevator, by using pulleys and winches. A pulley is a wheel with a rope wound around it. The rope would have weights on the bottom of each end. One end on one side of the rope would weigh more than the other end. The end with less weight would rise and the heavier end would lower, making the wheel turn around and around. To make the end that is rising stop, they would take weights off the heavier end. So the two ends would be almost equal in weight. A winch is a machine that has a wheel (or drum), with a rope wound around it. By running the rope over a pulley it is able to raise or lower items, making the pulley and winch work together. The ancient Greeks invented the elevator and now we are using the elevator frequently.

Uses of the Elevator
There are many varieties of elevators in use. Huge Fright elevators carry loaded trailer trucks to higher levels of factory buildings. Automobile elevators can carry cars from different floors in parking garages. Other elevators can carry miners hundreds of feet underground. Elevators in aircraft carriers lift planes to the deck for takeoff. One elevator is even taken to space so astronauts can reach their space capsules! But the most well known elevators are the elevators that take people to different floors, in apartments, offices, skyscrapers, and many other buildings. Those elevators are so you wouldn’t have to climb many levels of stairs to get to your destination. There are many different kinds of elevators.

Elevators: Now and Then
Before the 20th century, elevators mostly looked like birdcages. The elevator shafts (the building the elevator goes up and down in) were often opened. They were also controlled by operators, who moved a big control handle. Nowadays elevators are well lighted and has fan-like air to improve the air in the enclosed space of the elevator. They are also self-service or automatic. The self-service elevators work by having a passenger push a button for a specific floor. The button is called a floor selector. The selector is connected to the real elevator with steel tape. If the tape breaks, the elevator is not able to move until the tape is repaired. In a rooftop machine room, the controller and selector are working like a computer. They send instructions to the elevator motor. The instructions are followed and stop the motor so it sends the elevator to the right floor. To keep the elevators running regularly and have the passengers on all floors served, the controller would be set to an automatic schedule system. A schedule is like the system railroads use to make the trains move right. Electro-magnetic circuits keep doors from opening while the elevator is moving downward or upward. When a person is getting on or off of the elevator and is in between the door, special safety devices automatically opens, to let the passenger off or on.

The Man behind the Work of the Elevator
Elisha Graves Otis invented the elevator and also the elevator brake, which was the start of the regular usage of elevators. Elisha was born on August 3,1811. He was born on a farm near Halifax, Vermont. He was the youngest of six children. Otis tried over and over at establishing businesses in his early years. Otis had a poor health and had many financial problems also. In 1852, he moved to Yonkers, New York to put in machinery for the firm of Maize & Burns. Josiah Maize, of Maize & Burns, needed to move heavy items to higher floors. Otis was intrigued with the safety problems of the equipment. In 1853, Otis had put together an elevator in a one sided shaft. He did this using, a tough steel wagon spring machine with a ratchet. The spring would catch and hold, if the rope happened to give away. Otis familiarized his safety device on the floor of the Crystal Palace Exposition, in New York. With a large audience watching, Otis went up in the elevator. Halfway up, he had the hoisting cable cut with an ax, and it had torn the rope in half. Otis proved to the audience, that even though the rope was cut, the spring would be there to catch the elevator. Now people are using elevators regularly, without many dangers. This is due to the inventor of the safety- device, Elisha Graves Otis.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Ancient Times

Throughout the ages people have tried to find ways of preventing conception and venereal diseases. Obvious methods, such as withdrawal, the rhythm method, douches and sponges were used, as were various predecessors of today's condom. In ancient Egypt a linen sheath was used as protection against troublesome insects and tropical diseases. The Chinese tried to prevent infection by wrapping oiled silk paper around the penis, and the Japanese had leather and tortoiseshell sheaths. The Romans used tampons that had been dipped in herbs and condoms made of goats' bladders.

Middle Ages

The history of condoms in Europe begins in the sixteenth century, when the venereal disease syphilis reached epidemic proportions. In 1564, the Italian doctor Gabriel Falloppio wrote in the book 'Morbo Gallico', that a linen bag drenched in a solution of salt or herbs formed a protection against the disease. In the eighteenth century linen and silk condoms were used, as well as sheaths made of lambs' and goats' gut. To prevent them slipping off, a ribbon on the open end of the condom was tied around the penis. The sheaths made of bladder or gut could be used more than once; in contemporary paintings and prints they are some-times seen hanging on a hook or a clothes line to dry.

Origin of the name

The word condom is probably derived from Latin "condus" meaning receptacle. Another explanation is that the gut condom was invented by the English army doctor Colonel Quondam in around 1645 and that the word is a corruption of his name. We do not know who invented condoms, but we do know that they were in use. There is evidence of this in the writings of Marquis de Sade, Casanova and James Boswell. The latter, a Scottish lawyer and writer, protected himself against sexually transmitted diseases by using a linen condom. During a visit to an Amsterdam brothel in 1764, he drank with a prostitute, but the encounter went no further as he'd left his "armour" behind. When visiting a brothel in Marseilles, Casanova tried so-called "English raincoats", and spoke of reaching great heights.

Specialty Shop

The concept of a specialised condom shop such as Condomerie® Het Gulden Vlies is not a new one. In the 18th century, there was already a condom shop in Amsterdam. In The Hague, the trader Mathijs van Mordechay Cohen sold "condons" that he made himself from lambs' bladders and ribbons. In the middle of the eighteenth century, trade in condoms thrived in London. At the centre of this activity were two ladies, Mrs Phillips and Mrs Perkins. They each had a condom shop and openly competed with each other in their pamphlets. Mrs Phillips also ran a wholesale company on Half Moon Street on the Strand. The two women both had large stocks of bladders, sheaths and other contraceptives, which they sold to apothecaries, travellers and ambassadors. The ladies used rhymes to advertise their products, showing evidence of a liberal and enlightened mind.For the less well-to-do there was a certain Miss Jenny, who sold washed second-hand condoms.

"To guard yourself from shame or fear,
Votaries to Venus, hasten here.
None in our wares ever found a flaw
Self-preservation is Nature's law."

Latex condoms

In 1839, Charles Goodyear discovered a way of processing natural rubber, which is too stiff when cold and too soft when warm, in such a way as to make it elastic. This had advantages for making condoms; unlike the sheeps' gut condoms, they could stretch and did not tear so quickly when used. Those very early rubbers had a seam and were as thick as an inner tube, so they could not have been very comfortable. Besides this type, small rubber condoms covering only the glans were often used in England and the United States. There was more risk of losing them, of course, and if the rubber ring was too tight, it would constrict the penis. This condom was the original "capote" (French for condom), perhaps because of its similarity to a woman's bonnet worn at the time, also called a capote. A century later it was hoped the invention of plastic and other man-made materials would lead to an improvement in the quality of condoms. That was not the case. What could be done however, was something about the speedy deterioration of the rubber. Since that time, condoms have not only become thinner but also more reliable. In 1995, plastic condoms went on the market in the USA.Manufacturing Latex, the sap from a rubber tree is the raw material for condoms. It is obtained by making a slanted cut in the bark of the tree. A bucket is hung under the cut which catches the sap. It is a continual and labour intensive process. More than 80% of rubber is used in the car industry, mainly for tyres. Rubber plantations are primarily located in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast. The production of condoms from latex is relatively simple and since 1920, has virtually remained unchanged. In the condom factory, a large vat is filled with latex and various chemicals are added to ensure the durability of the end product. Next, a row of glass moulds (in the form of condoms), suspended from a conveyor belt, are plunged into the latex, a technique known as "dipping". The moulds go through a series of latex dips, turning themselves around to insure even distribution and a thin layer of latex. Between each dip, they are dried with hot air and vulcanised. This treatment insures optimal malleability, elasticity and durability. The condoms are then released by a powerful water-jet spray.Next, in the finishing phase, the condoms are dried and powdered. They then go through a series of proceedures to test their quality. Afterwards a lubricant may be added and they are packaged in a hygenic, airtight aluminium pack. During the entire production process the condoms are constantly undergoing quality controls.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


As most educated schoolboys will tell you, the rubber tyre was invented by John Boyd Dunlop late in the nineteenth century (actually 1888). If you press him with the observation that rubber tyres were used before that date he will point out that he is talking about the pneumatic tyre – not solid ones.

He will be surprised when you point out that the pneumatic tyre was actually invented and patented in 1845 by RW Thompson (illustrated) and that his concept was more advanced than that of Dunlop in that, rather than just using a rubber tube filled with air, he packed a number of thin inflated tubes inside a leather cover. Pressures could be varied for different ride conditions and, of course one puncture would not be terminal!
For no obvious reason (except possibly the lack of roads!) these tyres never caught on but solid rubber tyres on everything from bicycles to steam traction engines became the vogue. In 1884 the idea of leaving a hole through the centre of the rubber to give a ‘cushion’ effect was developed but we must wait until December 19th 1888 for the first advertisement for a ‘Dunlop Pneumatic Tyre’ to appear – in the Irish Cyclist. On May 18th 1889 a cyclist using these tyres won a race in Belfast and the pneumatic cycle tyre was on its way.

These tyres had a particular shortcoming as they were stuck to the wheel and thus access to the inner rubber tube in the (common) event of a puncture was tedious but by the end of 1890 CK Welsh had patented the design of a wheel rim and outer cover with an inextensible lip. The fundamental design feature of tyres for virtually all types of wheeled vehicles through to today had arrived.

By now, of course, the motor car was appearing and the first motor vehicle specifically designed for the pneumatic tyre took part in the Paris to Bordeaux (and back) race in 1895. 720 Miles and 22 inner tubes later the Daimler finished ninth from a field of 42. From that event to today the simple tyre has developed in many directions, be it towards a child’s tricycle, a giant earthmover or the ubiquitous motor car, the last category itself ranging from micro runabouts to Formula 1 Grand Prix racers.
Each is a triumph of engineering where numerous component parts of rubbers, fabrics or steel are individually formulated and combined to meet the requirements of the particular user. Whatever the application, these tend to be comfort, puncture-resistance, wear and performance, the last generally being measured as road adhesion in wet and dry conditions, as well as absolute speed certification. In a short article such as this it is impossible even to list technical developments but two important leaps forward merit note. In 1948 Michelin created the radial tyre with its vastly superior grip, whilst in 1972 Dunlop did away with the inner tube on car tyres
Price might also be on your list of requirements but it should be low down. With the average family saloon capable of cruising at well over 100mph (on the right roads) and being held on the road by four patches of rubber, each about the size of the palm of one’s hand, what value do you put on the tyre?