Often a genius is someone who just looks at a problem differently.  Between 1905 and 1907, John Frank Stevens was the Chief Engineer on the Panama Canal.  The problem? Sections of the canal were dug into jungle soil where there was no bedrock. When the so-called “Big Ditch” got too deep, the sides of the canal collapsed. Being a creative thinker, Stevens ‘saw a solution in the problem.’  Rather than continuing to dig down, he built up.  Instead of continuing dig a ditch, he built a dam.  He created Lake Gatun, using the waters of the Chagres River, the very river that had been eroding the sides of the Big Ditch.  Stevens created a lake with 164 square miles – and the Panama Canal has been operational since it opened for business on August 15, 1914.  And, for trivia enthusiasts, actually, this is not true.  The actual date the Panama Canal was completed was October 11, 1913.

By a President of the United States 4,000 miles away.

On that date, Woodrow Wilson, touched a button on his desk in the White House and an electric impulse traveled for four seconds to the Gamboa Dike exploding eight tons of dynamite.  And the waters from Lake Gatun flowed into the Culebra Cut and the sea-to-sea “Big Ditch” was complete. 

www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi; https://bit.ly/2WwBElt.

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Before there was a Wild West, bandanas were the rage in England among the wealthy. Why? Because users of snuff blew their noses and ‘such activity’ left ‘residue’ on white handkerchiefs. A wily entrepreneur found a solution – and a profit – in India Textile makers in that country were manufacturing colored handkerchiefs using a tie-dying technique called  bandhani which, linguistically corrupted, became bandana. Since then, bandanas have been used as advertisements – including printing of the words and music to “We Want Teddy” for Theodore Roosevelt’s 1912 run for the Presidency – and to cover the nose and lips of stagecoach robbers in the Old West. One bandana became a part of history on November 3, 1883, when notorious stagecoach robber Black Bart tried to hold up a stagecoach on Funk Hill in Calaveras County, California. He was injured in the robbery and dropped a number of personal items – including a handkerchief with the laundry mark: F.X.O.7.  Wells Fargo Detective James B. Hume traced the handkerchief through a San Francisco laundry to a C. E. Boles.  Boles spent four years in San Quentin and was released in 1888.  Thereafter he vanished from the pages of history – except for his poetry, left at the scene of his robberies, one stanza reproduced here

I’ve labored long and hard for bread,
For honor, and for riches,
But on my corns too long you’ve tread,
You fine-haired sons of bitches.

— Black Bart, 1877 

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In 47 BCE, Julius Caesar was faced with a mutiny.  The Tenth Legion was demanding unpaid wage for their service and balking at going to the war in Africa. Worse, they were threatening to ravage the city of Rome. It was a tense situation and Caesar’s associates advised him to disband the Tenth Legion.  But Julius Caesar was a creative thinker. And he knew exactly what to do. He met with the rambunctious Tenth Legion and said just one word:  Quirites.  Quirites were civilians. And as civilians no member of the Tenth Legion was entitled to any share of the booty looted from war. They were, in modern parlance, ‘on their own on the street.’  History records the soldiers shouted “No! No! We are soldiers! And they followed Caesar into battle in Africa. 

www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi; https://bit.ly/2WwBElt.

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When it comes to “the past,” it is so easy to say, “Well, in those days ….”  But there were 365 days a year in every one of “those days,” and in every one of “those days” our grandparents had to live, eat, struggle to make a dime and face every single real world problem we have today. Only technology has changed. What no one thinks about are the day-to-day, nuts-and-bolts realities of THEN. Today we don’t give much thought to driving to work. We just get in a car and go. 100 years ago, well, it was a bit different.  If you were a woman and had to look good wherever you went, you had to wear a hoop skirt.  If you lived in a city, you could not ride with a hoopskirt. The hoops had to come off before you got on whatever means of transportation you used.  So, young women, next time you complain about wearing a bra, be thankful you can get to work without undressing on the sidewalk. 

www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi; https://bit.ly/2WwBElt.

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Quick, millenials, what is this?  And why did your grandparents always take a pen to the library?  (Library: a big building with lots of free books.  Books: things you read to learn facts, theories, issues and approachs you never knew before.) One of the greatest myths of this electronic age is you can learn all there is to know on the computer. If all you need to know are the basics, Wikipedia is a gift of the gods. But just knowing facts is not knowledge; it’s entertainment. American education is based on the “fact  dump” theory.  Simplified, if you dump enough facts into young people’s heads, students will develop unifying theories of how those facts fit together.  It Geek Speak this is known as GIGO, “garbage in, garbage out.” Giving a computer lots of numbers is no guarantee you will get anything meaningful from those numbers. That’s why a library is important. Books – many of them in libraries – provide the framework for those facts students have been dumping into their brains. 

www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi; https://bit.ly/2WwBElt.

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Frank B. Adams, born in 1847, was a professional carom billiards player – in the days when you used your fingers to ‘shoot’ the ball rather than a pool cue. To shoot the ball, you placed it between your thumb and forefinger and ‘snapped’ it into action.  Billed as the “Digital Billiard Wonder,” the “greatest of all digit billiards players” and the ”Champion digital billiards of the World,” his playing often drew exhibition crowds of more than 1,000 spectators. His greatest game came in 1878 in Gilmore Gardens in New York where he played against William Sexton who, at that time, was the reigning pool cue champion of the world. Adams won the three-day competition.  He died in 1923.

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As part of his duties as King of Prussia, Frederick William I, King of Prussia, (1688-1740), went to a prison in Potsdam to hear petitions for pardons. One after another the inmates came into his presence and told the king how they were innocent of any crime and were in prison because the judge had been prejudiced, witnesses had lied or their lawyers were incompetent. Cell by cell the king proceeded through the prison listening to tale of woe, disaster and prejudice. He came to one cell where the prisoner had nothing to say.

“Well, I suppose you are innocent too,” asked the king with a smile.

“No, your Majesty,” replied the prisoner. “I am guilty and richly deserve what I got.”

“Here, turnkey,” yelled the king. “Come and get rid of this rascal quick before he corrupts this fine lot of innocent people that you are responsible for!”

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This photograph intrigues me. Why?  Because these salmon left this stream five years ago when they were fry. They have never seen a grizzly bear. But here they are giving the bear a wide berth. They know it is a predator.  How do they know that?  Answer: it had to be in their DNA.  This picture is solid, scientific proof that tabula rasa is false. If salmon were born with no mental content and had to learn all from experience or perception, they would not know this grizzly was a predator. But they do know. If fish can inherit mental content, then human beings must be able to do so as well.  www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi; https://bit.ly/2WwBElt.

 

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One fateful day in the 1870s, the James Robinson Circus traveled to Middleton, Missouri.  As was usual in those days, the circus made a parade circuit around town.  To drum up business, management told the circus band to ride on top of the lion’s cage and perform as the circus made its circuit. The band told Robinson this was not a good idea as the top of the cage was probably not strong enough to support ten men and their instruments.  Management disagreed and the band mounted the lion’s wagon.  All was going well until the driver of the wagon tangled the reins and the horses took off at a gallop.  But they did not gallop long. The wagon hit a large rock and the jarring motion – along with the weight of band – caused the roof of the lion’s cage to collapse.  Seven members of the band fell into the lion’s cage. Four were killed and three were badly mauled before they were pulled out of the lion’s cage.

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Two of the best known singers of all time are Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis.  But not many people know the songs that made them famous were written by Otis Blackwell.  Born in Brooklyn in 1931, Blackwell tried to become a singer. That didn’t work so he settled for songwriting. At that he was a smashing success. His song “Don’t be Cruel” was snapped up by Elvis Presley and the song spent seven weeks at Number 1 in 1956. The next year “Great Balls of Fire” sung by Jerry Lee Lewis sold one million copies in its first week and today it is one of the best-selling singles in music history. Blackwell wrote more than a thousand songs which sold more than 200 million copies. Those songs included “Return to Sender,” “Breathless,” “Handyman” and “Fever.”  Legend has it Blackwell was challenged to write a song about a bottle of Pepsi which had been dropped and was fizzing.  He did and the song hit Number One on April 13, 1957 – and stayed there for eight weeks.  The song?  “All Shook Up.”

www.authormasterminds.com/steve-levi https://bit.ly/2WwBElt.

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