Professor Buzzkill History Podcast
Professor Buzzkill is an exciting new blog & podcast that explores history myths in an illuminating, entertaining, and humorous way.
info_outline #336 - Patton Conquers the World! 01/21/2020
#336 - Patton Conquers the World! We hear this all the time in the US: “George Patton should have been unleashed and taken care of the Soviets in 1945 when we had the chance.” And from the movie, Patton: “We're gonna have to fight them sooner or later anyway. Why not do it now, when we got the army here to do it with?” If we had let Patton have his way, the Soviet Union would have been eliminated, there would have been no Cold War, and no threat of a nuclear WWIII. True? Professor Nash from Penn State explains all! One of our best episodes!
info_outline The Unknown Martin Luther King: Flashback Friday 01/17/2020
The Unknown Martin Luther King: Flashback Friday Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted so much more from the US government and US elite, than most people realize. Popular history has airbrushed out far too much about his life and work. Professor Phil Nash reminds us of the importance of King’s work, especially during the forgotten period between his 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech and his assassination in 1968. Listen and learn.
info_outline Ben Franklin, "A Republic, if You Can Keep It" - Quote or No Quote? 01/14/2020
Ben Franklin, "A Republic, if You Can Keep It" - Quote or No Quote? When announcing the beginning of impeachment proceedings, the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, brought up a Ben Franklin “quotation.” Franklin supposedly said this after the Founding Fathers had agreed on the broad nature of the new U.S. government in 1787. But is the quote genuine? We explain it all, and the wider context of Franklin’s political and social world.
info_outline Throwback Thursday: The Pentagon Papers 01/09/2020
Throwback Thursday: The Pentagon Papers We explain the complicated and much-mythologized history of the Pentagon Papers, which is shorthand for the government-funded study of US involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. Once leaked by Daniel Ellsberg and others, American newspapers, led by the New York Times, printed significant extracts from the Papers. This led to a major freedom of the press controversy, and Supreme Court ruling.
info_outline Republicans and Impeachment: Nixon and Now 01/07/2020
Republicans and Impeachment: Nixon and Now You often hear that "the real heroes" of the Nixon Impeachment Crisis were the Republicans in Congress. They put country ahead of party, so the story goes, and facts ahead of friendship, and urged Nixon to resign rather than be impeached and removed from office. But is that what really happened? Were the 70s Republicans heroic? And exactly when did they take their heroic stand? Professor Buzzkill explains all the complexities!
info_outline Martin Luther King and the Arc of the Moral Universe 01/01/2020
Martin Luther King and the Arc of the Moral Universe Lots of people take comfort from the quote “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” and it’s usually credited to Martin Luther King. He said it, but was it an original MLK thought? The long history of this famous quote is fascinating and uplifting. Listen and learn!
info_outline Auld Lang Syne 12/24/2019
Auld Lang Syne Should old acquaintance be forgot? What? Should we forget old friends? Should we sing about remembering them. What does Auld Lang Syne actually mean? Why do we sing it every New Year’s Eve? Join the Professor as he waxes lyrical and sentimentally about Auld Lang Syne, Scotland, and good auld Robert Burns!
info_outline 12 Days of Christmas 12/17/2019
12 Days of Christmas Was there special, secret meaning behind the lyrics in the famous Christmas song, The 12 Days of Christmas? Ten Lords a Leaping and Nine Ladies Dancing sounds like a pretty good party! But why wasn’t Professor Buzzkill invited? We explain it all and wish all you Buzzkillers out there a happy holiday season!
info_outline Throwback Thursday: World War I Christmas Truce 12/12/2019
Throwback Thursday: World War I Christmas Truce The truce between the trenches in Christmas 1914 is one of the most famous stories from World War I. Was it one big truce across the whole Western Front? Or was it lots of little ceasefires? How did it happen, and what did the soldiers do during the Christmas Truce? Did they become friends for a day? Did they play football? Did they exchange cigarettes and pose for pictures? Professor Theresa Blom Croker explains all!
info_outline Flashback Friday: Pearl Harbor 12/06/2019
Flashback Friday: Pearl Harbor Professor Phil Nash joins us to explain the myths and misconceptions about the December 7th, 1941, as well as the complexities of the cultural importance of the attack since then. Did FDR know about the attack ahead of time? And who was the attack more devastating for - the United States or Japan? You’ll learn more about an event that you thought you already knew well by listening to us!
info_outline Wisdom Wednesday: Mark Twain "Life is Just One Damn Thing After Another" 12/04/2019
Wisdom Wednesday: Mark Twain "Life is Just One Damn Thing After Another" Sometimes, Buzzkillers, the stars just seem to align. There's a meteor shower and a rainbow on the same day. And a whole bunch of writers, pundits, journalists, and aphorists come up with roughly the same idea at roughly the same time. Or at least they come up with it over a couple of decades, and, in terms of the history of quotations, that's the story of the aphorism and witticism, "life is just one damn thing after another." But it's easier to attribute such a quotation to Mark Twain, and that's what people have done. Did he ever say it? Listen and learn.
info_outline Flashback Friday - Clean Wehrmacht 11/29/2019
Flashback Friday - Clean Wehrmacht How “clean” was the regular German army (Wehrmacht) during World War II? The Nazis and the SS usually get all the blame for war crimes and for the Holocaust. How much blame can be placed at the feet of “ordinary” German military units? Turns out that the “clean Wehrmacht” story is not only a myth, but it also greatly influenced how post-War Europe was re-built. Professor Nash joins us to examine how deep and wide the war guilt goes.
info_outline Throwback Thursday - FDR’s Fireside Chats 11/21/2019
Throwback Thursday - FDR’s Fireside Chats President Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats” are famous for breaking new ground in how political leaders communicate with their people. But where they really as ground-breaking as we all tend to believe? Did they really help the American people get through the Great Depression and World War II? Was it FDR’s tone and confidence that connected to the people, or was there something more mundane that explains the popularity of the Fireside Chats? Professor Phil Nash enlightens us!
info_outline Wednesday Wisdom: Vince Lombardi - Winning is the Only Thing 11/20/2019
Wednesday Wisdom: Vince Lombardi - Winning is the Only Thing Legendary American football coach, Vince Lombardi, was fond of telling his players “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” He employed it many times to motivate them, as well having it posted all around the locker room. And he’s usually the person who gets credit for the quote. But was he the first person to say it? Find out in this episode of Quote or No Quote!
info_outline #333 - 1919: A Year in the Life of the United States 11/12/2019
#333 - 1919: A Year in the Life of the United States 1919 was one of the most tumultuous years in American history. Economic struggles, labor unrest, the Red Scare, anarchist bombings, and race riots plagued the country. 1919 saw the end of the Progressive Era, the beginning of anti-immigration laws, an attempt to “return to normalcy,” and the approach of the much heralded “Roaring 20s.” But is 1919 so easily defined by the well-worn phrases? Professor Nash joins us to explain all!
info_outline Watergate: Special Impeachment Encore! 11/08/2019
Watergate: Special Impeachment Encore! 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!
info_outline #332 - The Berlin Wall 11/05/2019
#332 - The Berlin Wall The Berlin Wall seemed to define Cold War tension and opposition in stone. From 1961 to 1989 it divided East Berlin from West Berlin, and was the focal point of potential Soviet vs. US confrontation. But the history of why it was built and how the citizens of Berlin lived with it is rife with myth and misunderstanding. Professor Philip Nash joins us to explain it all. Listen and learn!
info_outline *Throwback Thursday* #63 - Halloween 10/31/2019
*Throwback Thursday* #63 - Halloween Halloween is a demonic holiday chock full of sin and endangered by razor blades in trick or treat candy, right? Wrong. Nothing about the origins of Halloween can be called demonic, satanic, or anti-Christian. And the adulterated candy thing is an urban legend. Get the full story from the Buzzkill Institute.
info_outline #331- Quote or No Quote: Harriet Tubman | “I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves." 10/29/2019
#331- Quote or No Quote: Harriet Tubman | “I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves." Harriet Tubman is one of the most famous and important figures in American history. Directly and indirectly responsible for freeing many slaves through the Underground Railroad in the 19th century, she also an armed scout and spy for the Union Army in the Civil War. Whether she ever said, “I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed thousands more, if they had known they were slaves,” is more uncertain. And we examine the quote in this brief episode. Listen and learn.
info_outline *Wisdom Wednesday* #278 - Quote or No Quote: Mahatma Gandhi | An Eye for An Eye Makes The Whole World Blind 10/23/2019
*Wisdom Wednesday* #278 - Quote or No Quote: Mahatma Gandhi | An Eye for An Eye Makes The Whole World Blind Did Gandhi say “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”? If he didn’t, where did it come from? The Bible? The Canadian House of Commons? Movie script writers? And is there something more significant in how this phrase has come down to us as an essential Gandhi-ism? Listen and learn with your eyes open in this flashback episode, Buzzkillers!
info_outline *Wisdom Wednesday* #183 - Quote or No Quote: Sigmund Freud | Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar 10/16/2019
*Wisdom Wednesday* #183 - Quote or No Quote: Sigmund Freud | Sometimes a Cigar is Just a Cigar Many things seemed phallic to Freud, the father of psychoanalysis. But did this include the humble cigar? Or did Freud just dismiss overanalysis by saying, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”? What that a genuine Freudian quip? Did Groucho Marx agree? Find out by listening to this brand new Quote or No Quote episode!
info_outline #330 - Teddy Roosevelt and American Sports 10/15/2019
#330 - Teddy Roosevelt and American Sports Professor Ryan Swanson explains the complex history of the relationship between President Theodore Roosevelt and the modernization of American sports culture. We learn about TR’s “tennis cabinet,” his fitness programs, and his role as the “invigorator in chief.” But we also learn about TR’s dislike of the rising professionalization of sports, and about the proper role of sports in American life.
info_outline *Throwback Thursday* #59 - Cuban Missile Crisis 10/10/2019
*Throwback Thursday* #59 - Cuban Missile Crisis The Cuban Missile Crisis! Kennedy, Castro, Khrushchev, missiles, submarines, cigars! It was the closest we’ve gotten to World War III and nuclear annihilation. Professor Philip Nash joins us in the Buzzkill Bunker as we sweat the details and the minute by minute tension of the standoff. Wear your diapers, Buzzkillers, it’s intense!
info_outline #329 - Quote or No Quote: Winston Churchill | Atlee and the Empty Taxi 10/08/2019
#329 - Quote or No Quote: Winston Churchill | Atlee and the Empty Taxi One of the most famous Churchill-isms is “an empty taxi pulled up and Clement Attlee stepped out of it.” It implies, of course, that Attlee was a political non-entity, weak and ineffective. But did Churchill ever say it? And what do skinny French actresses have to do with it? We explain all in this episode of Quote or No Quote!
info_outline *Flashback Friday* #94 - Amazing Grace 10/04/2019
*Flashback Friday* #94 - Amazing Grace “Amazing Grace” is one of the most popular songs in Christian songbooks, and one of the most recognizable songs in the world. By one account, it is sung over 10 million times annually. It has also been the font of historical myths and misunderstandings. One particularly dramatic one, and one that has been flying around the internet for over a decade, is that the author John Newton had a Christian conversion after surviving a devastating storm that almost wrecked his ship. True story? Afraid not. Listen and learn from a Buzzkill favorite!
info_outline #328 - Woman Crush Wednesday: “First” Woman to Cast a Vote 10/02/2019
#328 - Woman Crush Wednesday: “First” Woman to Cast a Vote Is it possible to determine who was the first woman to cast a ballot in a modern, democratic election? Not really. But, in this episode, we’re going to talk about three of the “first” women to vote. 2019-2020 is the centenary of the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution. It prohibited states and the federal government from denying the right to vote to American citizens on the basis of gender. During this centenary year, we’re going to look at women’s voting in modern history in a number of pioneering countries, and this is the first of those episodes.
info_outline *Flashback Friday* #144 - Kennedy-Nixon Debates 09/27/2019
*Flashback Friday* #144 - Kennedy-Nixon Debates Did radio listeners really think that Nixon won the first 1960 presidential debate, while TV viewers thought the more telegenic Kennedy won? This story is the most repeated myth in the history of presidential debates. The Professor explains why. Make sure to listen and tell us what you think about the Professor’s “presentation.”
info_outline *Throwback Thursday* #245 - Impeachment, Presidential Removal and Replacement 09/26/2019
*Throwback Thursday* #245 - Impeachment, Presidential Removal and Replacement 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 in this Throwback Thursday episode, Buzzkillers!
info_outline #327 - LBJ and the Space Program 09/24/2019
#327 - LBJ and the Space Program President Kennedy usually gets all the credit for inspiring American to reach for the moon. And President Nixon’s signature is on the ceremonial plaque laid there at the end of the Apollo 11 landing. But President Lyndon Johnson hardly ever gets credit for the American space program. The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Shesol joins us to explain LBJ’s pioneering efforts in the space race.