Today's Theme Thursday post is really a cheat! Sorry, fellow babies... but in an effort to show y'all that I'm not dead -- just temporarily MIA -- I'm getting on today's bandwagon by recycling the following from last May. (If you read it when it originally appeared, you have my sincere apologies!) You don't think I'd let Skip Simpson get away with the only outstanding history lesson of the blogger day, do ya?
Something a bit different today.
In his hit song "Kodachrome," Paul Simon referred to "all the crap I learned in high school," but I learned my "crap" a few years earlier. The more I learn about history -- both the "World" and "U.S." varieties -- the more I realize that the so-called "history" lessons I was subjected to in grammar school were largely a waste of time. I hadn't even made my way through high school before I learned that the "truth" about Christopher Columbus and the "truth" about the Pilgrims that landed in my own state of Massachusetts was mostly b.s.
And in the thirty-five years since my high school graduation, I've learned a few other, equally disconcerting things, as well.
I was told about the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, and how they invented the airplane and conducted the first successful manned flights (not counting guys who'd "gone up" in hot-air balloons).
And whenever they talked about the Wright brothers, the teachers spoke of previous, unsuccessful flights made by others... notably, how some idiot named Otto Lilienthal leaped off a cliff and fell to his death, much like the urban legends of those kids who tied towels around their necks and leaped off roofs in emulation of Superman. He'd built some kind of glider, evidently... We never got the details. But somehow, this guy Lilienthal became famous just for that one jump of his which sent him unceremoniously to the ground? Poor sucker.
Personally, I always pictured some nut flying too close to the sun with his wax-coated wings, like the mythological Icarus.
Well, Otto, we hardly knew ye (to screw up an old expression).
If you want the tip of the proverbial iceberg in regards to the "real truth," you can start here. But if you don't want to learn any more than what I'm willing to impart personally, chew on this:
The reason Otto Lilienthal was mentioned in my history classes was that he'd received quite a bit of fame before he was mortally wounded in his famous glider crash. He was a true, respected aviation pioneer, having made roughly two thousand successful glider flights prior to his final attempt! In fact, the Wright brothers themselves learned a lot from his writings.
And needless to say, modern-day hang-gliding aficionados owe him a debt of thanks for his experiments, as well.
So thinking of him as some kind of "idiot" or "nut" would be tantamount to calling Dale Earnhardt the same simply because of how he met his end.
"All the crap I learned," indeed!
Thanks for your time.