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Professor Buzzkill: History 101

Professor Buzzkill is an exciting new blog & podcast that explores history myths in an illuminating, entertaining, and humorous way.
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Professor Buzzkill: History 101
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Now displaying: Category: general
Aug 14, 2018

Professor Colin Woodward joins us to discuss the importance of slavery in the minds of Confederate soldiers, as well as its effects on military policy and decision making. He tells us about the Rebels’ persistent belief in the need to defend slavery and deploy it militarily as the war raged on. Slavery proved essential to the Confederate war machine, and Rebels strove to protect it just as they did Southern cities, towns, and railroads. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!

Aug 7, 2018

Are you cursed to be living in interesting times? Would a boring era be easier on the Buzzkill blood pressure? And is “may you live in interesting times” actually an old Chinese curse, or is the history of the saying more complicated? We take you from Chinese folks tales in 1627 to 20th century British politicians in this episode of Quote or No Quote, trying to track down who said what when. Listen and learn.

Jul 31, 2018

All wars are bad. But why was World War II so extreme? Coming less than 20 years after World War I (the most extreme war up until that time), the Second World War’s death toll is _conservatively_ calculated at 60 million people. And some estimates are higher than that. Professor Phil Nash joins us to explain why the death and destruction were so severe, and to give us grim statistics on some overlooked facts. These include: the number of civilian deaths outweighing military deaths, and the number of Allied deaths far exceeding Axis deaths. If this episode doesn’t bring the peace-nix in you out into the open, we’ve failed to convince you. Listen and learn!

Jul 25, 2018

So far, this is the most famous woman we’ve ever featured on a Woman Crush Wednesday. Henrietta Lacks was a cancer patient in the early 1950s. Her cancer cells were studied and analyzed, and found to be “immortal” under laboratory conditions. They formed the famous “HeLa” cell line, the first immortalized cell line, which helped create the polio vaccine and hundreds of other medical advances. But the story is more complex than that. Listen to this episode to find out why!

Jul 17, 2018

How close have the United States and the Soviet Union come to nuclear war in the past several decades? How many accidents, miscommunications, and misunderstandings have brought us to the brink of annihilation? Professor Phil Nash joins us to explain how many times we’ve been on the brink of nuclear war, what happened in these incidents, and what mistakes were made. You’ll be very surprised (and made uneasy) at how many times simple human error brought the world close to nuclear war. Take a deep breath, Buzzkillers, and listen with the lights on!

Jul 9, 2018

Melvin Purvis, head of the Chicago Division of the young FBI, is usually overshadowed by the character of J. Edgar Hoover. But who did the real work of capturing or killing Pretty Boy Floyd and John Dillinger. Professor Nash joins us to discuss G-Man Melvin Purvis and where he belongs in the history of American law enforcement. Listen in!

Jul 3, 2018

When was the Declaration of Independence signed? July 4th? August 2? Later? Why did John Hancock sign so prominently and hugely right in the middle? Did he have signature envy? What price did the signers pay for their patriotism? And how did the story of the signers' sacrifices get so out of control by the mid-20th century? Professor Buzzkill puts his John Hancock on this episode, and answers all these questions.

Jul 1, 2018

Did Canadians burn the White House in 1814, in the last few months of the War of 1812, as President Trump apparently believes? Who was in command, Tim Horton? Bob and Doug MacKenzie? Or was it British forces, as we’ve been told in our history classes since, well, 1814. And, by the way, what the hell does Napoleon have to do with it? Find out!

Jun 30, 2018

Government internment of “enemy aliens” during World War II has been a controversial topic ever since the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Not only is the history much more complicated than is popularly known, the various policies applied at the time were very complicated, and often contradictory. In this episode we talk about how Japanese-Americans, Italian-Americans, and German-Americans were treated during the 20th Century’s darkest years.

Jun 19, 2018

The history of immigration to the United States is very complicated, Buzzkillers! Millions of people came from all over the world to the United States, and there are almost as many myths about immigration as there were immigrants. What did it mean to come to the United States “legally” during the high points of the history of immigration to the United States? When did the government try to restrict immigration and how did they do that? Professor Buzzkill’s new episode explains all!

Jun 12, 2018

One of the most common Einstein No Quotes you see coursing around the internet is: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Sometimes the mis-quote-meisters add “so is a lot,” to this pithy quote saying about knowledge, and we end up with “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot.” It’s probably the type of thing Einstein would say, but did he ever actually say it? Find out in this episode!

Jun 6, 2018

D-Day, June 6, 1944, is one of the most well-known events of World War II. Why did it happen the way it did and why did it succeed? Was it the turning point in the war in Europe? How many other military operations were going on at the same time in Europe that might explain victory in Europe? There are so many complications to the story that you need the Buzzkill Institute to help explain it all!

Jun 5, 2018

1865. The Civil War is over. Slavery has been abolished. The country is “reconstructing” itself. This should have meant that the lives of African-Americans improved during this period. But it didn’t. 1865-1930 is often called the “nadir of African-American life.” Not only did they gain very little economic or social benefit from the end of slavery, white Southerners built up a system of race oppression that still stains American consciousness. Listen as Professor Phil Nash explains it all!

May 30, 2018

The board game Monopoly seems too complicated to have had one single inventor, right? Well, no. Elizabeth Magie invented it in the first few years of the 20th century, and called it The Landlords Game. But the original game was anti-landlord, and embodied many aspects of communitarianism. Find out about it, about Elizabeth Magie, and why it became “Monopoly” on this Woman Crush Wednesday!

May 25, 2018

Walt Disney is one of the most famous names in entertainment. But have you ever heard of Ub Iwerks? Good old Ub was the real artistic genius behind many of Disney's most beloved characters, including Mickey Mouse. Yet there is no IwerksWorld, no Iwerks animation empire. Tune in to find out why, Buzzkillers! 

May 9, 2018

Major social and political forces led to the establishment of Mother's Day as a major and official holiday. Our new episode explains those forces, and also tells us who founded Mother's Day. Was it Julia Ward Howe with her famous "Appeal to Womanhood" Peace Proclamation in 1870? Or did Anna Marie Jarvis found it, honoring her own mother in 1908? And what did war and campaigns for international disarmament have to do with the history of Mother's Day?

Apr 24, 2018

Is Watergate the story of heroic journalists working against all odds and in great danger to get at the truth of presidential corruption? Is it more complicated than that? How accurate was All the President's Men? Who really brought the Nixon presidency down? Professor Buzzkill's new episode explains all!

Apr 13, 2018

Did Ben Franklin really discover electricity by flying a kite in a lightning storm? Well, he may have flown the kite, Buzzkillers, but knowledge of electricity's been around a long, long time. Take the journey of discovery back in time with the old Professor. 

Mar 20, 2018

We usually hear that surgery and medical treatment during the Civil War was backward butchery. But was it? Let's cross over the inter-sphere to listen, as historian Nic Hoffman from Kennesaw State University tells us how complicated it really was. Here we go.

We discuss: medical care before the war; the shock of Civil War carnage and how medics initially reacted; and changes in medical treatment and surgery because of the War. Listen and learn!

Feb 6, 2018

Impeachment? The 25th Amendment? Resignation? How do the American people remove a president from office? Why is it so complicated, and what's the history behind each way to get a dangerous, criminal, or just plain crazy chief executive out of the highest office in the land. Join Professor Buzzkill and Professor Nash as they work through all the possibilities, and illuminate all the history and politics behind the various processes. Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!

Jun 8, 2017

Frank Lloyd Wright is the most famous architect in American history. But why is he so famous, and was it just about his architecture? In his own mind and in the popular mind, he is often considered a god and an artistic prophet. How did he become so famous and how did his fame and myth-making develop during his career? Architect Eric Osth helps us understand the deep complexities and twists-and-turns in Wright's highly public and media-savvy approach to his architectural design, as well as the public's embrace of it.

May 25, 2017

John F. Kennedy was one of the most fascinating Presidents in US history. And perhaps more fascinating are the ways in which he is remembered by succeeding generations. In this first part of a three-part series, Professor Nash joins us to discuss JFK's background, youth, service in World War II, and his political career. The sweep of his life is as complex and interesting as you can imagine, Buzzkillers!

May 22, 2017

P. T. Barnum, the famous 19th century American showman and founder of the Barnum & Bailey Circus, is often quoted as saying "there's a sucker born every minute." This "quote" is usually trotted out to refer to something that con-men or other shysters who try to separate people from their hard-earned money (as in, selling them tickets to a circus) would say. But did good old P. T. ever say it? And how many Buzzkillers are born every minute? Find out here!

May 16, 2017

Is Watergate the story of heroic journalists working against all odds and in great danger to get at the truth of presidential corruption? Is it more complicated than that? How accurate was All the President's Men? Who really brought the Nixon presidency down? Professor Buzzkill's new episode explains all!

May 8, 2017

"History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes," according to Mark Twain, perhaps the most most-quoted writers and humorists in American literary history. But does the history of quoting Twain repeat itself, or does it simply rhyme? In this episode of Quote or No Quote, we learn that Twain said something close, but more wordy. And we also learn the history of that concept and quote. Listen in, Buzzkillers and see how far back the idea goes!

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