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Monday, February 11, 2019

Down Goes Tyson

It might be hard for modern audiences to imagine, but in the late 1980s, "Iron" Mike Tyson was considered invincible. He had never lost a fight. His bouts averaged barely more than 3 rounds. He usually had his opponent knocked out before the end of the first round. Then came Buster Douglas.

Douglas was a heavy underdog when the two heavyweight boxers met on February 11, 1990. Casino oddsmakers had Tyson a 42/1 favorite, meaning a $42 bet earned only $1. However, if Douglas was to pull off the upset, a $1,000 bet on Douglas would pay out $37,000. Too bad that could never happen.

Except it did.

It's been said that the unexpected and improbable Douglas victory was the biggest payout for a boxing match in history, making it a perfectly safe bet for a time-traveling sports fan looking to make a quick buck. Someone like Booster Gold.

Buster Douglas knocks out Mike Tyson on February 11, 1990

Hmm. A sports gambler using time-travel to his own advantage? Someone should make a movie about that.

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Monday, November 19, 2018

Four Score and Seventy-Five Years Ago

On this date in 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most famous speeches in American history.

Despite its fame, many elements of what transpired that day at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery — including the exact text of the speech itself — remain unclear to even the most dedicated historical researcher. To know the truth, you would have had to have been there.

Lincoln's Address at the Dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery, November 19, 1863

Be sure to dress for the occasion.

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Monday, October 22, 2018

Good Evening My Fellow Citizens

In 1962, a console television sold for around $600, which is the equivalent of $5,000 in 2018 dollars. But even if you could afford such a luxury, you might not have enjoyed what you were seeing.

On this date in 1962, President John Kennedy interrupted your regularly scheduled news broadcast to announce the United States was on the brink of war.

JFK tells the American people of nuclear missiles in Cuba, October 22, 1962

"This Government, as promised, has maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet military buildup on the island of Cuba. Within the past week, unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile sites is now in preparation on that imprisoned island. The purpose of these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere."

Things got worse before they got better, and the United States and the Soviet Union avoided nuclear war only by the narrowest of margins. You might think that historians and politicians alike would learn key lessons from such brinksmanship, but recent events — from Russia invading its neighbors to America withdrawing from nuclear limitation treaties — would indicate otherwise.

As the saying goes, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

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Monday, August 13, 2018

Another Brick in the Wall

It's common to hear talk in the modern American news media about how our country is currently a nation divided. While it is true that some people like Coke and other people like Pepsi, most of us still believe in democracy, free speech, and Dwayne Johnson movies.

To see what a truly divided country looks like, turn back the clock to 1961. In the aftermath of World War II, Berlin was split between the eastern and western powers. It didn't take long for the citizens of the Communist east to express their preference for the more permissive west. The East German government decided that the best way to maintain their way of life was to build a wall. Not to keep people out, but to keep them in.

On this day 57 years ago, the Berlin Wall went up, separating families, friends, and neighbors overnight.

Berlin Wall started August 13, 1961

The wall would stand as a physical embodiment of the Cold War until 1990. Through traces remain, there are few intact remnants left that give a true impression of living through this tragedy. If you want to feel what it's like to live in a real nation divided, you'd have to be a time traveler.

Or read the editorial columns in your morning newspaper.

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Feed the World

Music fans are always talking about concerts they attended. Some were had-to-be-there events, like Woodstock, Altamont, or the US Festivals. And, of course, Live Aid, a concert so large, it took two continents to hold it.

Live Aid, held 33 years ago today, was a mega-concert designed by Bob Geldorf to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. The internationally televised event began in London's Wembley Stadium with acts by Phil Collins, Sting, U2, David Bowie, The Who, and Queen. It continued in Philadelphia's John F. Kennedy Stadium with acts by Run-DMC, Tom Petty, Madonna, Led Zeppelin, and Phil Collins (who flew across the Atlantic Ocean on the Concorde just to appear in both venues).

What music lover would want to miss that? You wouldn't have to if you were a time-traveling audiophile. In fact, you could attend this once-in-a-lifetime convert as many times as you liked.

Live Aid, July 13, 1985

Good riddance, hunger!

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