Category Archives: News

Nick and Geeked on History will be back!

Folks!

It’s been a while since Geeked on History has released a podcast (October to be exact) and if you saw the last post on the blog, you’ll see that it’s likely to be a while longer before more is published to the Geeked on History series….but rest assured, the series is NOT dead!

I do want to give you all an update on what I have been doing in the meantime though.

I am pleased to announce officially that I am working on a collaborative project with host of The History of the Papacy podcast host and partner in historic crime, Stephen Guerra.

The project is a new series which will be a deep look at the interconnected events of the Cold War. The project has yet to be given an official title, but having just completed the outline, I think you’ll all be excited by the content.

So stay tuned to the Geeked on History blog for updates on new GoH episodes and news on the new series.

Stay geeky, friends!

Japanese Balloon Bomb Found in British Columbia

As a semi-supplement to the podcast we just released regarding the legacy of Japanese warfare during the second world war, a news story posted three days ago reports that another one of these historic bombs has been found by loggers in Eastern British Columbia. (Source)

These bombs were called “Fu-Go” – the Japanese for “Wind Weapon” and were planned as a weapon of opportunity against the Allied forces in North America by launching bombs held aloft by weather balloons and carried by the winds to the North American continent.

Japan launched 9,300 fire balloons during the war, with anywhere between 100 and 300 completing the aerial journey from the Japanese islands to their intended targets.

The program was extremely unsuccessful with the biggest loss of life being inflicted on an Oregon school teacher and five of her students who were on a trip to the woods one day in 1945.

The Japanese balloon bombs are just another example of the terrorist lengths that the Japanese were willing to adopt in pursuit of a military victory.  Much like landmines, these weapons of fear will most likely continue to be found across North America for decades.

What’s the big deal about Crimea?

Hi there, Geeks!

Geeked on History was never meant to be a show about current events, so I’ve found myself having to make some decisions about the future of the podcast given what’s been happening in the news. I keep this giant master list of topics that I want to cover at some point, and over the last week, I’ve felt the urge to push this particular topic up on the schedule.

Since Friday of last week, there has been an ongoing crisis in an area that not many people in the United States know much about.

On February 28th, 2014 the news has reported that elements of the Russian military have invaded a region in South-Eastern Ukraine called Crimea. Crimea is a very old territory, and has been disputed for many years by both Russian and Ukrainian interests. The most famous contest over this area was the Crimean War.

The Crimean war lasted some 2 years and change starting in October 1853 and ending in February 1856.

The original Crimean War is a bit of a complex conflict that I hope to cover in greater detail in the podcast (there I said it!) that will be coming out soon, so in this blog post I wanted to point out a little about the strategic significance of the Crimean region.

 

bosporus-wiki-gnu-map

Here is a picture of the region surrounding the Black Sea. Crimea is circled in red, and the arrow you see in the lower left is pointing to the reason that Crimea has always been so important to Russian interests.

Sevastopol is home to a very important port to Russia that allows an outlet into the Black  Sea from which they can launch seabound vessels.

Let’s zoom in on the arrow now:

469px-Turkish_Strait_disambig.svg

The red area is the Bosphorus strait, which dumps seagoing vessels into the sea of Marmara, which uses the Dardanelle strait as an outlet to the Aegean Sea. The Aegean Sea then connects you easily to all of Southern Europe, so if Russia controls the port in Crimea, they have a much more direct and faster trade route through this path, than they do going overland through a number of different countries.

Hopefully this short preview gives you enough back-story to understand why this region is going to play such an integral role when you hear about it in the news.

Keep your ear to the ground for the upcoming podcast on the Crimean war, and make sure you all stay geeky!

 

 

All kinds of news!

Wow, today feels like it was a huge day for history related items! Maybe I just got lucky and ran into an unusual amount today, but I’ve chosen a couple things I think are worthy of putting up on the old blog here.

Pieces of the Voynich Manuscript have been decoded

If you’re unfamiliar with the Voynich Manuscript, it’s a document that carbon dates to the 15th century and is written in a language unfamiliar to any era experts. Named after the book dealer who found it – Wilfrid Voynich – The manuscript has befuddled researchers and crypt-analysts alike, and appears to be some kind of alchemist’s guide.

It was recently announced that professor Bax – a professor of linguistics at the University of Bedfordshire has applied the same analytical technique used by other lost language analysts like Young and Champollion who decrypted demotic hieroglyphics. The technique which was used was to look for commonly used names, and apply them where the language would have been used.

For instance, if you know that in the English language you can expect a common greeting followed by the name of who the letter is for, and that this will be the first thing in the letter, you can suss out what our common greeting would be “dear (so and so)”

Professor Bax was able to decipher two words so far: “Kantairon” and “Taurus” which indicate that previous theories that the manuscript was falsified may be incorrect.

At this point, only time will tell what the purpose of the Voynich Manuscript is, but the secrets are on their way to being solved!
source

The US Army’s Treasure Room

According to Buzzfeed author Benny Johnson, the US Army does indeed maintain a repository not unlike the vast chamber of boxes shown in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

The so called “treasure room” is at Fort Belvoir, Virginia and holds  all manner of items from every conflict the US Army has participated in including weapons, uniforms, and even art. There are even original watercolors by Adolph Hitler himself.

These amazing items can not be displayed, however because of a lack of space. The good news is that there is currently a plan to build a museum, but the project is dependent upon obtaining funding. Be sure to read the buzzfeed article to see the amazing photos, and if you’re interested in the project to fund the museum, please see this link.

 

 

News: What happened to the Hunley?

Who doesn’t love submarines? The idea of being able to sink beneath the waves and explore the world below has a draw to it that calls back to our most basic instincts in the same way that flight does.

See, there are two questions that are asked of every new technology that has ever been created:

1) “How can I use this to make things go boom?”

and

2) “Can this be used for porn?” (although you can also extrapolate this question to be “How can I use this to find sexual satisfaction?”

The submarine was no different and so devoid of any practical applications for pornography or otherwise sexual satisfaction, the implications of using the submarine to make things go boom became a major draw for those with the dough to invest into the idea.

From this question sprung forth many concepts for a militarized submersible, one of them coming at a time when killing technologies were benefiting from the same mechanical precision as commodities like cotton – the industrial revolution.

This is where the C.S.S. Hunley comes in.

I have the Hunley on my list of topics to cover so I’m going to stay away from diving too deep (no pun intended) into this topic, but there has always been a bit of a mystery about what exactly caused the Hunley to sink.

There has been a flurry over the past 15-20 years over the discovery of a number of sunken vessels being found after generations have considered them lost to time including the C.S.S. Merrimac, and Blackbeard’s pirate ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. The C.S.S. Hunley was raised in 2000 and has been under intense scrutiny ever since coming to shore, but the reason for the sinking of the first effective naval submarine has been elusive.

As researchers investigate the remains of the crew, maybe soon there will finally be a definitive answer to the question: what happened to the Hunley?