Professor Buzzkill

Professor Buzzkill is an exciting new blog & podcast that explores history myths in an illuminating, entertaining, and humorous way
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Feb 15, 2017

Huge numbers of listeners have flooded the Buzzkill Institute with emails, faxes, texts, and Tweets, asking about President Donald Trump’s Executive Orders. They’ve come so fast and furious! With a little help from Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Reagan, se explain the nature and operation of Executive Orders, as well as the history behind this fascinating aspect of American history and government.

Feb 13, 2017

Valentine’s Day is here again, Buzzkillers, and you can be certain that we’re depleting the Buzzkill bank account at a rapid clip so that we can give Lady Buzzkill all the best tokens of love and affection befitting her rank and station. And it’s always around this time of year that people ask me about St. Valentine. Did he really pass a heart-shaped note to an admirer and sign it “Your Valentine”? Was this the first Valentine’s Day card? Listen and learn!

Feb 7, 2017

The 2017 Super Bowl ad by 84 Lumber was dramatic and touching. It shows a Mexican mother and young daughter trying to get to the United States. They struggle for many days to reach the border, but are confronted by a huge obstacle when they get there. Find out why Professor Buzzkill thinks this ad owes a lot to historical parallels, and why it meant a lot to him personally.

Feb 6, 2017

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!

Feb 1, 2017

The tragic story of the ship “Marie Celeste” has been told for over a hundred years. And tale gets wilder and wilder every time. On December 5, 1872, the vessel was found drifting in the Atlantic Ocean about 1,400 miles west of Portugal. The crew and passengers were gone, but the ship was in near perfect condition, with all her lifeboats intact, and all the supplies, clothing, and provisions for her occupants intact. It was as if the people had evaporated. What happened? Find out, and also learn what the “Marie Celeste” tells us about how historical myths and misconceptions start and spread!

Jan 30, 2017

At the height of World War II, the British people and British government finances were stretched to the limit. A journalist asked Winston Churchill if the government should cut funding for the arts. The Prime Minister replied, “Then what are we fighting for?” But did he actually say this? The real story is much more interesting. Listen and learn!

Jan 25, 2017

German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel has gone down in history not only as a genius soldier and commander, but also as a military leader above politics, and a hero because he participated in the plot to kill Hitler. How much of this is true, and how much of this is myth? How much of the myth was generated by the German propaganda machine, and how much was boosted by British media buying into it? Professor Phil Nash joins us as we unravel The Rommel Myth.

Jan 23, 2017

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!

Jan 18, 2017

Who was Andrew Jackson? Youngest POW in the Revolutionary War. War hero in the War of 1812. Passionate dueler. Senator. Seventh President of the United States. Highly controversial historical figure. All these things! Listen as Professor Perry Blatz and I disentangle the history and the mythology surrounding this towering icon of American history.

Jan 16, 2017

“Give me liberty or give me death,” Virginia patriot Patrick Henry was supposed to have said in a stirring speech, trying to convince his fellow Virginians to join with the other colonies in opposing British rule. We Buzzkill this quote and show that, like most “quotes,” it was written decades after the event. Subscribe to Professor Buzzkill and sound the death knell for history myths!

Jan 11, 2017

What is the actual history behind "The Nuclear Button" and "The Nuclear Football"? And what has to happen before the missiles are launched? Is it automatic, or are there confirmation measures in place? Could we ever find ourselves in a Dr. Strangelove scenario? Listen to Professor Buzzkill calm us down!

Jan 9, 2017

Mohandas K. Gandhi should also be known as the Mahatma of Misquotation. Did he ever say, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” as we read in so many inspirational tweets and messages? Listen as Professor Buzzkill delves into the origin of this quote, avoiding snake bite and 1970s urban violence along the way!

Jan 4, 2017

What actually happened on the Eastern/Russian Front during World War II? Why did the Germans invade? And why did they get beaten? Was it the Russian winter? Was it the “Russian Horde”? Or are those myths? Super Buzzkiller Professor Nash joins us to explain all the complications, myths, and misunderstandings!

Jan 2, 2017

One Winston Churchill’s most famous quotes supposedly occurred at a social occasion in the 1920s, and went like this. Lady Astor (never one of Winston’s admirers) said, “If I were married to you, I'd put poison in your tea.” Churchill replied, “And if I were married to you, I'd drink it.” Great reply, but did he really say it? Find out, Buzzkillers!

Dec 29, 2016

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!

Dec 27, 2016

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!

Dec 22, 2016

Was Jesus born on December 25th, over 2000 years ago? Buzzkill Institute historians estimate that the chances are about three-tenths of one percent – or one out of 365. In other words, December 25th is as good a candidate for Jesus’s birthday as any other day of the year, but it is certainly no better than the other 364 possibilities.

Dec 20, 2016

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!

Dec 15, 2016

The Great Escape (1963) is in the pantheon of World War II films, and deservedly so. Generations of Buzzkillers have grown up watching Richard Attenborough, Steve McQueen, and other film stars try to outsmart their captors at Stalag Luft III. But how true was the “Great Escape” story that became a best-selling novel and box-office smash at the movie theater? Listen carefully, or Professor Buzzkill will send you to the cooler!

Dec 13, 2016

Christian churches and institutions, especially Catholic ones, keep a lot of relics. In some churches or reliquaries, you may see a small piece of the true cross, or a lock of St. John’s hair, or even an alleged piece of Christ’s foreskin – since all the rest of him was taken up into heaven, of course. But are these remnants ever genuine? You may be surprised at the answer.

Dec 8, 2016

Candy canes are a well-known symbol of the holiday season, but what is the origin and meaning of this peculiar candy? Some say it was invented by a German choirmaster in the 17th century. Others say it was invented by an Indiana confectioner in the 19th century. Or maybe it was a Catholic priest? Is the candy cane is full of religious symbols that represent the blood of Christ, the nativity, and the strength of the Christian church? Listen and learn, Buzzkillers!

Dec 6, 2016

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!

Dec 1, 2016

In 1814 we took a little trip, along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississipp’. We took a little bacon and we took a little beans. And we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans.” It’s a stirring folk song, perfect to stoke the patriotic fires of a young nation. But did the Battle of New Orleans really take place after the War of 1812 was over? Keep your powder dry, Buzzkillers, because you’re about to find out!

Nov 29, 2016

President Lincoln comforted Lydia Bixby over the loss of her five sons during the Civil War in the one of the most famous letters in American history. But what really happened to Mrs. Bixby’s five sons? Did they all die fighting for the Union? Or, were things a lot more complicated than that? Find out, Buzzkillers!

Nov 24, 2016

One of the legendary stories that re-appear during Thanksgiving season is that no less a luminary and Founding Father than Ben Franklin thought that the bald eagle was an improper choice as national bird and a national symbol. Franklin preferred the more “dignified” turkey, and tried to convince Founding Fathers to agree. Apparently they thought Ben was a senile old sentimentalist, and so they ignored him. But is any of this story true? Listen and find out!

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