The complicated history of rice in the American South

For some unknown reason this lifelong New Yorker loves Southern food, especially dishes made with rice. Rice is a big part of food from places like Louisiana and South Carolina and as expected its history is complicated. How rice came here, how it was cultivated and what it represents is inextricably tied to slavery, African culture and what it means to be a Southerner.

The Relay Computers

Most people are at least vaguely familiar with the early history of modern digital computers, particularly their importance in breaking the Nazi Enigma codes during WWII. Less familiar is the computing machines that preceded them.

In response to the need for more and faster computation, researchers developed a series of analog computers that did the job but were complicated and difficult to maintain. Inspired by (and in some cases actually using) the switches used to connect telephone calls, digital computers using relays were developed that used base 2 arithmetic. As useful as they were these relay computers would end up mostly being forgotten, replaced by machines based on vacuum tubes.

Ass-chewing and schadenfreude: Inside Hillary’s failed campaign

The Democrats have a litany of reasons why Clinton lost: Russia, poor whites, Bernie Sanders, etc. In truth, Clinton’s 2016 campaign failed for most of the same reasons her 2008 campaign did: a disorganized staff struggled to define a clear and persuasive message for their unexciting establishment candidate.

Instead of looking at the factors that caused Clinton to lose the nomination to Obama and addressing them, her campaign simply repeated everything. To no one’s surprise (but their’s, apparently) the results were the same.

Old Erie Canal Lock 54

Lock 54 on the original Erie Canal was sometimes called the Berlin lock for the nearest settlement, now called Lock Berlin. It’s east of Lyons, NY and west of Clyde, along Rt. 31. It was enlarged twice, with the final work being completed just before the Civil War. It was subsequently abandoned when the canal was rerouted in the early 20th century. A short section of the canal was left in place and thanks to the recent snow and rain it’s pretty much as full as it would have been when in use. The gates have long been gone but the photos below represent a view similar to what you would have seen when it was in use.

No Longer In Use by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

Lock 54 Exit by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

Lock 54 Entrance by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

Old Lock 54 by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

How economic boom times in the West came to an end

Out of the chaos of World War II came the greatest economic boom the world has ever seen. Fueled by a rapidly modernizing workforce, productivity increased in the years between 1948 and 1973. Then war in the Middle East and the oil embargo put a stop the boom and the productivity increase.

But it wasn’t just the oil crisis. The improvements in education, the transfer of workers into manufacturing and the move of women into the workforce had all peaked. Despite minor blips here and there the sad fact is productivity has not significantly increased since 1973, there’s simply no more improvement to be gained.

Countries that elected left-leaning governments tried electing right-leaning governments in hope of changing things. It didn’t work. The old ways simply don’t work and no knows what will. Keep this in mind as the year progresses.

What the 1% did to Lancaster, Ohio

Lancaster, Ohio was once held up as a shining example of what a small American city should be. Even in the 60s and 70s it kept going when other cities saw their industries shutter. But then the Reagan years began and private-equity financiers got involved. Soon Anchor Hocking, the local glass company that had mostly escaped the forces that created the Rust Belt, was awash in debt as those financiers used it to give themselves enormous paybacks. Today Anchor Hocking is a ghost of its former self, Lancaster is full of poverty and drug use and those who profited from all of it are very far away.

Despite all this, almost two-thirds of Lancaster voted for you-know-who in the election.

World War II Memorial

Back in 2013 I had the chance to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. I took the opportunity to highlight the parts of the memorial that were associated with my dad’s service in the Navy.

They have a kiosk where you can look up someone’s service information. My dad entered his own.

Charles J. Maszerowski

He served in the Pacific Theater for most of the war.

Pacific

Guadalcanal was the battle that resulted in his ship, USS Wasp CV-7, being sunk. He was one of many who survived.

Guadalcanal

Thanks to the efforts of the Navy, Marines and our allies we achieved a hard-fought victory. This memorial assures that they are not forgotten.

Victory At Sea