Next time you complain about the postal service, look at what it WAS. This photograph is from 1905 and heralds the ‘modern’ mail delivery between Unalahlik – now Unalakleet – and Nome.  Interestingly, the man on the right is John Clum.  Clum was an honest Indian Agent – surprising in an agency known for corruption – on the San Carlos Reservation in the Arizona Territory. He established the first Indian Tribal Police and Tribal Court and a form a self-rule for the Apache. He and his tribal police capture Geronimo in 1877 – and Geronimo was released by corrupt Indian Agents within a few years. Clum moved to Tombstone where he started the Tombstone Epitaph, a newspaper still in circulation today, and was good friends with the Earps. In 1898 he was appointed United States Postal Inspector for Alaska and at the start of his tenure, over a five-month period, he traveled more than 8,000 miles to set and equip post offices across the territory. He was later named Postmaster for Fairbanks, a post he held until 1909. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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This was the solution to the energy crisis in Nome during the Alaska Gold Rush.  It is the photograph of 10,000 tons of chunks of coal in burlap sacks.  Nome had/has no forests therefore no trees for building or warmth. To stay warm during the winter, thousand of tons of coal had to be imported every year to keep the city warm. There was no Plan B. A century later, in 2004, it wasn’t coal that was being imported to keep Americans warm. It was oil. There was no Plan B. Now there is a Plan B: renewables. About 16% of America’s power needs are now being satisfied by solar, wind and hydro power. There is Plan B. Then the news gets better! As renewables are taking larger and larger bites out of the petroleum-based power grid, homes, machines and automobiles are becoming more energy efficient. Our tools are being come efficient and need less energy. A decade from now, the photograph of a filling station will be looked upon as an historical snapshot of a bygone era left behind by technological advance. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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Here’s a glimpse of the past and the future together.  Can you identify the man on the left in the “cockpit?”  It’s Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt was a president who focused on the future. Not only was his vision forward-looking, so were his actions. In 1907, he ‘saw’ the future of aviation and linked his name to its improvement. He changed the United States Navy from one of wood and wind to one of steel and steam. He created the National Park system. He busted the giant industries of the day. He attached his name to the Progressive Party platform and most of those planks are mainstream with both political parties today. We need a President and Congress that will drag us kicking and screaming into the future. Not to mention governors, mayors, state legislatures and city councils. Roosevelt was the embodiment of the adage “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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Here we go again!  This is an editorial cartoon from a century ago when the ‘immigrants’ were Orientals.  The era was known as the Yellow Scare and as you can see, everything that was said of THEM then is now being said about immigrants today. America is a land of immigrants, yes, but what many anti-immigrant people fail to appreciate is the immigrants who arrive/arrived on our shores or border crossings were/are the ones who were/are willing to take a chance for a better life ‘somewhere else.’  They may have been the “huddled masses” and “wretched refuse” from some other “teeming shore,” but they had the guts to get on a boat. America is great because we are a land of innovators, willing to take a chance on a new product, a new business, a new idea or a new life. We lead the world in new concepts because we are the descendants of those who said, “there is nothing for me here; let’s try someplace else.” We are the “talented tenth’ of the world because we do not sit on our trouser pockets and say, ‘Woe is me.’  We do something about it. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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Next time you hear someone say, “I want my job back!” think of this picture. These are firemen on the TITANIC. Every day they shoveled 600 tons of coal into furnaces.  That was a century ago. Today, coal is a dying industry. Close behind are oil and hydroelectric. That’s because all are a product of the sun and solar panels are going up across the country INCLUDING my state, Alaska! What many people do not know is that the bulk of electric power is for home heating and cooling and with solar power that power can come from your roof on a three-foot wire. The key to using history as a guide is to see the problems coming down the highway.  The two BIG problems which are going to generate giant industries over the next century are water and garbage. You cannot get water ANYWHERE and garbage is killing the oceans and causing global weather changes. If we don’t’ lean to recycle both, we will go the way of the dodo.  Except in our case, we will have killed ourselves.  History is the not the story of the past; it is the study of the future. Learn from it or keep repeating the errors of the past. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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Los Angeles Times, October, 1910

I hear a lot of lamenting about how this decade is so turbulent and violent. Really? Those people do not know history.  Violent eras in American history predictably come about every 50 years.  50 years ago, was the 1960s, the anti-Vietnam War, weathermen, Symbionese Liberation Army and the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.  Half a century earlier it was the most violent era for terrorism in our history. The Los Angeles Times was destroyed by a terrorist bomb in 1910 and Wall Street suffered a massive explosion in 1920. In between was the Preparedness Day Bombing and on July 30, 1916 the Black Tom Explosion. The Black Tom explosion was a one megaton event which took place on an island off the coast of New York City.  It was so powerful it was felt in Philadelphia. 50 years before that was the Reconstruction South with the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and, in the north, Social Darwinism and the ongoing abuse of the working class and the increasingly violent labor strikes. 50 years before that was the War of 1812 and the violence of Indian uprisings because the men with guns were fighting the British away from the frontier – and 50 years before that was the American Revolution.

Those who know their history will add that the eras after the decade of violence are incredibly good economically – with seeds for the next era of violence. After the American Revolution the cotton empire was born which lead to the Civil War. After the War of 1812, the steam engine revolutionized travel on land and water and lead to America’s industrial revolution. After the Civil War the North entered an era of massive industrial growth and the expansion of the Far West with the building of the Transcontinental Railway – and the South was left behind. The 1910 to 1920 decade of violence was followed by the Roaring Twenties and the inevitable stock market crash. The 1960s was followed by the growth of nonprofits which employed/employs millions and the beginning of the computer age followed by heart-stopping increases in the federal deficit.  This decade of violence will probably be followed by an era of economic opportunity because of artificial intelligence.

THIS is what history classes SHOULD be teaching. History is not the story of the past; it is a study of the future. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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This scene, which happened in Anchorage, Alaska, happened all across the country in the 1920s and 1930s.  Liquor was federally illegal so, when it was found by federal officers, it was destroyed.  Prohibition did not stop people from drinking; it just drove the price of booze up and its quality down. The 18th Amendment made liquor illegal and the 21st made it legal – a decade and a half later. Today we are facing a similar problem.  Marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug.  With the federal government. This ranks it with heroin and LSD, drugs with the greatest potential for abuse. Higher than cocaine and methamphetamines which are Schedule II.

The problem?  Marijuana is legal in some states. BUT, it is still illegal federally. What this means is that you cannot buy marijuana in states where marijuana is legal with checks, credit cards or debit cards.  It’s cash only. And that cash is federally “drug money” which will be seized if it is put in a bank. Or used to buy a home or car or a stock or a bond. So legitimate businesses selling a legal product – who must pay federal income taxes and state taxes and local taxes – have too much legal cash they cannot spend – a fiscal oddity that could only occur in America.

But we live in America and, over the long run, it is money that counts. It will not be long before state legal/federally illegal money becomes legal from point of sale to purchase of a home or car or stock or bond. The problem is we – like the United States Marshals in this photograph – are spending a lot of money to spin our political wheels.  The money that was spent chasing bootleggers selling a product people wanted and the money being spent federally harassing legal, state-licensed marijuana dealers would have a better use in our schools, hospitals and VA services. The problem is our legislators are not reading history. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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History is not the story of the past; it is the study of the future. If you want to know how far we have come, this advertisement was published in the 1950s and NO ONE objected.  A generation later, it’s a grim reminder of what ‘things used to be.’ The United States – regardless of who the President happens to be or how ineffectual the Congress of the moment – is a land where everything moves forward.  We are the land of inventors, creative thinkers and designers of innovative ideas.  Every megacorporation on the New York Stock Exchange started as a design on a napkin that moved into someone’s kitchen or garage. Every so-called minority and immigrant group is now mainstream. We lead the world in ‘making things happen’ in spite of the fact we have the historical memories for how bad things once were. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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We hear it every day. America is so violent! Never has there been so much hatred! Actually, the violence is part of a 50-year cycle. Why, we don’t know. We just know that about every 50 years, there is an upsurge in violence which no one expects.  50 years ago, was 1968, an era of anti-Vietnam violence, the assassination of two social justice heroes – Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy – bombings on college campuses, the Black Panthers, weathermen and the Chicago Seven.  50 years before that was 1918, mid-way through the most violent decade for terrorism in American history. The Los Angeles Times was destroyed with a bomb in 1910 and the Wall Street bomb was in 1920 with both the Preparedness Day Bombing in San Francisco and the Black Tom Explosion in 1916.  The Black Tom Explosion off the coast of New York was the largest in American history, one megaton! The explosion was so loud it was heard in Philadelphia! And 50 years before that was 1868 and the era of the original Ku Klux Klan as the South was struggling with Reconstruction. And 50 years before that were the Seminole Wars in the aftermath of the War of 1812. We have survived all these eras because America changed. But we changed in the ballot box, not on any battlefield.  Today, we are rushing toward a Third Party in politics.  More than 50% of American voters are No Party because neither the Democrats nor the Republicans represent the voters. This happened a century ago with the Progressives, whose national convention is pictured here. The Progressive disappeared because the Republican and Democrat parties absorbed the key issues of the Progressives. There is a lesson here for the modern parties, change or disappear into the historical record.  Remember, history is not the story of the past, it is the study of the future. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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Within the last week a LinkedIn post showed a block building being constructed by a machine. Note the look of surprise on the faces of these men.  In 1894. A little more than a century ago. They were probably pleased as punch to have a job – considering that 1894 was midway through an economic depression.  They were feeding their families. We are now well into the era of AI, artificial intelligence. Jobs like these are going to disappear along with hundreds of thousands of other services, from truck drivers to pizza makers and ditch diggers. Education and medical professionals will be out of a job as well. Unemployment is going to skyrocket and there will be no “bring my job back.” The future is coming very fast and, alas, no one is talking about the gorilla in the room. A little more than a century ago, in 1848, industrialization ravaged the working class of Europe.  1848 was known as the Year of the Revolution because every country in Europe had a revolution of workers. History is not the story of the past; it is the study of the future. [See my books at https://authormasterminds.com/master-of-the-impossible-crime.]

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