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Shoulders of Giants
58 minutes | Apr 3, 2019
Yi Sun-Shin (Yi Sun-Sin)
Today we are discussing Admiral Yi of the Korean Choson(Joseon) dynasty. Despite his noble upbringing Yi decided to follow a career in the military instead of the more traditional pursuit of civil service for a person in his societal rank. Yi was hardworking, humble and incredibly moral during a period of Korean history fraught with corrupt officials in every level of society. His incorruptibility caused many to attack his honor and accomplishments and yet through countless setbacks his abilities as a leader and tactician lead him to command the Korean army during one of the most pivotal times in its history. Japan, recently unified under Toyotomi Hideyoshi, sought to invade China through the Korean Peninsula. It was under Admiral Yi's command that the invasion ultimately ended due to Hideyoshi's forces losing the ability to resupply their forces via the sea. Admiral Yi is still regarded as a great Korean Hero and inspired future naval commanders in battles that would further shape world events.
50 minutes | Mar 7, 2019
Edward Jenner is often known as the father of the immunology. As a scientist during the late 18th and early 19th century, he applied local folklore with scientific methodologies to champion the first vaccine. It was through his efforts that marked the beginning of a global eradication campaign to successfully eliminate smallpox from the natural environment.
33 minutes | Feb 25, 2019
For episode twelve, we are talking about Jim Henson. Best known as the creator of the Muppets and helped found Sesame Street with its wonderful characters, Jim Henson grew up in a quiet warm family in Mississippi and later Maryland. Influenced by his maternal grandmother, he cultivated a creative, crafty, artistic personality that led him into TV and ultimately bringing to life beloved characters like Kermit the Frog. Source material from Jim Henson the Biography, by Brian Jones and the Henson Company website.
32 minutes | Jan 30, 2019
Thurgood Marshall was America's first African American to serve on the nation's highest court. He championed the rights of the individual and prior to his Supreme Court appointment, he successfully argued more cases to the court than anyone before him. It was through Thurgood Marshall's efforts and those of the NAACP that "separate but equal" was overturned, helping establish a legal foothold for the civil rights movement in the years ahead.
64 minutes | Dec 4, 2018
A Spanish Conquistador following in the footsteps of his cousin Cortez, Francisco Pizarro was an ambitious commoner under the Spanish Crown. Working his way into positions of power in the New World Pizarro, motivated by rumors of a wealthy civilization further south of Spanish controlled America, took advantage of a greatly weakened Incan Empire. The empire of the Andes had been devastated by European diseases, killing or impairing up to 90% of the populace, and had finished a bloody civil war literal days before Pizarro met with the Incan ruler, Atahuallpa. Pizarro took advantage of the situation and ransomed then sacked the wealth of the Incan people before laying claim to their empire.
80 minutes | Nov 2, 2018
Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce
Travis here, and before we get started I wanted to say something brief upfront. November in the United States is usually focused on Thanksgiving and getting ready for Christmas, Hanukkah or any other winter festivities. However, there is one rather unsung day in November that we as Americans are hopefully growing more conscious of and involved with. This year it falls on the sixth, its Election Day. On this day we as Americans voice our right to decide our governmental representatives. Our vote may not always go to the winner but the important point is that every American should be free to cast their vote on who they want to govern us for the upcoming years. In practice, this is not the case. There are countless American's who have been denied a voice in choosing our government officials. I say all of this in the hopes that anyone reading who has not yet voted will be persuaded to do so but also because this very right that Americans have carries great significance in this month's subject. We are going to be talking about Cheif Joseph of the Nez Perce. An American legend whose actions and tremendous character deserve him a more notable spot in American history. Chief Joseph lead a band of Nez Perce people in the Wallowa Valley of eastern Oregon. His people's land and their way of life were encroached upon unlawfully for years by white settlers and despite this, he maintained a diplomatic and peaceful approach to resolving these problems up until it was no longer possible to do so. We hope you gain an appreciation for his story and a desire to learn more about Cheif Joseph and the history of the American federal government's interactions with Native American tribes. Thanks again for listening.
109 minutes | Oct 2, 2018
Happy October listeners! We decided to turn into the darker side of the season and talk about a historical figure that is known only for their grotesque behavior and inhumanity, Ed Gein. In this episode, we talk about graphic imagery regarding the desecration of corpses so if that's something you don't want to listen to skip forward starting at 45minutes to about 1 hour 10 minutes. Or listen to an older episode for this month. Part three topics include defining evil, tribalism, and the improper use of religion to abuse others. Thanks for listening and as always please rate us on Itunes or whatever app you use.
156 minutes | Sep 12, 2018
King Philip II of Macedon
Sorry for the delay folks but we've got September's historical figure finally up. It's King Philip II of Macedon. He is most commonly known as the father of Alexander the Great but Philip's ascension of power should be rightfully acknowledged for its own importance in shaping European and Middle Eastern culture for the centuries following his rule. Also in the Nick mentions a book describing greek mercenaries around the time of Philip's rule. That book is the Anabasis
95 minutes | Aug 2, 2018
Episode Six! We finally got around to telling a story outside of European cultural roots, Mansa Musa. If you've heard his name it was probably because he is thought to have been the richest human being to have ever lived. The ruler of the Malian kingdom in Western Africa in the 14th century spent much of his reign building his empire into an economic and cultural epicenter rivaling many other countries of the time. During a period in which European nations faced constant power struggles and had yet to leave fully leave the "Dark Ages", Mansa Musa's rule highlights many ways in which Muslim culture continued progress on philosophy, medicine, and historical recordings. Works Cited: Mansa Musa and the Empire of Mali by P. James Oliver o Mansa Musa: Leader of Mali by Lisa Zamosky o Wikipedia page: Musa I of Mali o Wikipedia page: Songhai Empire o https://www.history.com/news/who-was-the-richest-man-in-history-mansa-musa o https://www.mrdowling.com/609-mansamusa.html o o Timbuktu The Sahara's Fabled City of Gold
147 minutes | Jul 2, 2018
This is our Fourth of July episode! We decided to talk about a prominent but lesser known American figure. Frances Perkins might best be known as the first female Secretary of Labor but her works reach so much beyond that title. Perkins led a life focused on improving the living conditions of the poorest of Americans and could be considered the architect of the New Deal. Her legacy is one of servitude and has many lessons we can apply to modern day.
125 minutes | Jun 5, 2018
We decided to delve into a somewhat controversial character this week, Gavrilo Princip. Often people are painted into a stereotype based on their most noted actions and we tried to avoid that as best as possible on this episode. Gavrilo was a complex individual born into a world that was even more complicated. In this episode, we set the stage of a pre World War One Europe. We briefly go over some history of the Balkan states, then transition to what major European powers and their citizens were dealing with at this moment in time. Then we talk about the young Slav whose early experiences of life helped lead him down a path that many argue to be the initiating act to World War One. We finish up trying to figure out for ourselves what we can learn from Gavrilo's story and how we see similar ones today. If you like the show, please leave a review on Itunes. If you REALLY like the show you can become a patreon Search "Shoulders of Giants" and we should pop up.
79 minutes | May 1, 2018
Stephen Hawking Show Notes Born on 08 January 1942. 300 years after the death of Galileo Discussed a lot of dense material at home Went to Oxford Pressured to go into medicine but had a compromise with his father to go into natural sciences 1000 hours of work so about an hour a day due to the culture at Oxford Started to get sick during final year at Oxford Fell down a full flight of stairs in his dorm and experienced some limited memory lost Graduated with honors Left Oxford for a Ph.D. a Cambridge at 20 Two competing theories constant or big bang theory Movements becoming erratic and kept a secret from the family Parents noticed over Christmas and he was later diagnosed with ALS Given three years to live and started listening to a lot of Wagner Met Jane Wilde Started working hard for the first time in his life Helped pull him out of his depression Worked on applying the concept of a singularity from a black hole to the whole universe Graduated a got a fellowship that allowed him to get married Married Jane Was able to finish is thesis with Jane typing up the whole thing Had two children Robert and Lucy two years apart Becoming increasing reliant on Jane and his students “trapped inside my own body” Hawking radiation Some partials can escape black holes which defied known physical laws Would listening to extremely loud Wager while contemplating ideas If black holes radiate energy eventually they can dissipate The lecture host stood up and told him that was preposterous California Institute of Technology Great opportunity Increasingly large pressure on Jane Students lived with the Hawking family to help Stephen After a year he lost the use of his hands Reluctant to accept nursing A Brief History of Time Begin writing a book about the beginning of the universe While on vacation in Switzerland came down with pneumonia and was put on life support The tracheotomy prevented him from being able to speak Created a change when he was brought home and nurses came into the home System called equalizer developed in California Words+ After months finally able to finish the book Became best seller worldwide for four years over 10 million copies sold Made a cameo appearance on star trek Divorced in 1995 after the strain of the success Married Elaine Mason former nurse reports of domestic abuse by his wife, Hawking claimed to be false. Always wanted to go to space and got to experience a zero-gravity flight Speaker at Paralympic games “We are all different there is no standard or run of the mill person. But we share the same human spirit. So let us all celebrate excellence, friendship, and respect.” Take always We should go to space, to survive and to be active components in the universe, avoid being “cosmic couch potatoes enjoying the universe from the comfort of our own planet” Adversity is not the end Avoid underestimating people Humor is a powerful tool to combat misfortune. Sources: Stephen Hawking A Personal Journey PBS published Jun 11, 2014 “Why Exploring Space Matters” Stephen Hawking’s TEDx Talk 14 July 2016 “Questioning the Universe” Stephen Hawking’s TED Talk 4 April 2018 http://www.hawking.org.uk/about-stephen.html Stephen Hawking's Autobiography My Brief History
139 minutes | Apr 3, 2018
For this episode, we delve into the truly amazing life of Simon Bolivar. known throughout South America as the Liberator. He was essential and often the leader of the colonial revolutions against Spanish rule. We talk about his early childhood in Caracas and the difficulties he faced despite being born to a very prominent aristocratic family. Then, we jump over to Europe where he meets Spanish Nobility, French revolutionaries, and his wife. After that, we go into the early years of his political idealism and watch as his thoughts of rebellion grow into a full-on revolution. From there we talk about the bloody hardships of removing Spain from its American colonies and how the southern revolution varied from the one the United States had only a few decades earlier. Next, we discuss the founding of Bolivar's Grand Columbia, his dreams of a unified republic of South American colonies, the ultimate failure of this dream. Finally, we talk about his death and how Bolivar's name still can be heard in many South American political scenes as a rallying cry for ideologies he would admire as well as those he'd likely despise. If you like the episode give us a 5-star review on Itunes. You can also find us on Facebook @ and if you really like us feel free to throw us a few bucks over on Patreon. Thanks for listening.
136 minutes | Mar 9, 2018
Catherine the Great
Hey Folks, We are talking about Catherine the Great, also known as Catherine II, or even Princess Sophia of Anhalt-Zerbst. Topics include Catherine's Early Life, her ascent to the throne, her "favorites", the Russo-Turkish Wars, the Pugachev Rebellion, The Nakaz, and entertaining stories along the way! Like us on Also we have a if you're interested. Shownotes below: Born princess Sophia in spring of 1729 Mother Johanna of Holstein Ambitions and prone to wanton desire for courtly life and dissatisfied with her marriage Emotionally abused neglected her daughter Father Christian August one of several princes of Anhalt-Zerbst Had two younger brothers First was favorited until he died in 1742 His death opened up Johanna to the possibility of using Sophia to get into the Prussian court Second was 10yrs younger and considered insignificant Met future husband Peter Ulrich of Holstein who was her second cousin and then heir to Sweden Summoned by Tsarina Elizabeth who had adopted her nephew Peter losing crown of Sweden for Russia En route to Russian Johanna and Sophia stopped in the court of Frederick the Great of Prussia where he met personally with Sophia and commented on her wit Probably a probe into the potential of manipulating the Russian court Also offered Johanna the opportunity to act as a Prussian agent in the court to help sway influence away from Austria-Hungary and to Prussia Summoned by Tsarina Elizabeth who had adopted her nephew Peter losing crown of Sweden for Russia Once Sophia arrived in Russia she would never leave Very quickly she learned Russian Despite the objections of her father converted to orthodoxy And even changed her name to Catharine as a part of her orthodoxy baptism Eventual Catherine and Peter get married There is some debate on whether the marriage was consummated Peter was adamant about his German heritage and never learned Russian Peter continued to be sickly and somewhat deranged, eventually even contracting smallpox which gave him significant pox scars all over his face Catherine took up horseback riding to get away from her predicament Eventually while she and Peter were essentially living separate lives she had an affair Sometime later she gives birth to a son whose parentage is questioned but he does bear a resemblance to Peter The boy was taken by Elizabeth to be fostered, not an uncommon practice for women in the nobility for the time When Elizabeth dies Peter ascends the throne He immediately ends Russia’s involvement in the 7 years war (better known in America as the Revolutionary War) against Prussia This spares his hero Frederick the Great, the very same that met directly with Catharine so many years earlier, when Russian troops were on the verge of capturing Berlin This event is disturbing to most of the Russian people who overwhelmingly oppose it Peter then implements some reforms in Russia but never to the extent to win any favor with the people or interest groups Catharine along with elements from the Russian court, church, nobility and military begin planning a coup to overthrow Peter The conspiracy actually launched earlier than expected because a palace guard asked an officer who was not in on the plot which forced Catharine to act Peter was away from the capital at a villa on the Baltic with his Holstein troops who were about to launch an invasion of Denmark to restore Holstein Peter of course was more concerned with his legacy as Duke of Holstein than the good of Russia as the Tzar Catharine united the factions and assembled here supporters in the capital after leaving her own villa in the country after discovering the conspiracy had been exposed During this she dressed in the uniform of the Palace guard to march through the city and a young officer Gregory Potemkin gave her the tassel to her saber as the finishing touch After a relatively bloodless coup Peter signs a formal abdication renouncing all rights to the Russian throne Shortly after he is killed in a bar fight and Catharine seems surprised and dismayed at the news but also formally pardons the killers Catharine’s rule She immediately makes peace with Denmark, a war that didn’t really make sense for Russia anyways Nationalizes the church to increase revenue for the state and finally give Russia the ability to fund the government Became a pen pal with Voltaire as she implemented enlightenment reforms She began developing the Zakaz to reform the laws in attempt to standardizes laws across Russia She even suggested the freeing the serfs or at least improved rights Had her ex-lover StanisŁaw Poniatowski later August elected to rule Poland as her puppet She supported August in several revolts by the Polish nobility and people which eventually led to the partitioning of Poland During these revolts Polish troops crossed into the Balkans into what was then the Ottoman Empire and when Russian troops pursued across the border the Ottomans declared war This began the first of a several Russo-Turkish wars but this first war resulted in a surprisingly easy victory by the Russians that eventually resulted in the Kucuk Kaynarca peace which significantly expanded the Russian borders to include Crimea During the war with the Ottomans a man named Pugachez fomented revolt in the Urals where conditions for the serfs especially in the mines who experienced especially terrible conditions Eventually when the war ends troops from the front were turned on the revolt and Catharine begin to change some of her opinions about implementing enlightenment reforms Succession Her son Paul who eventually returned from being fostered way from the capital was never really accepted by Catharine who in a ironic twist continued the cycle of emotional abuse and isolation that she experience from her mother He never had a government position, experience or connections by the time Catharine had a stroke and died This would ultimately result in her son quickly being overthrown by elements within the Russian court Take always Catharine had a huge influence on the expansion of Russian and its significance in world politics being increased while also expanding on some enlightenment reforms to bring the county together However she avoided the internal reforms such as improving the conditions of and eventually freeing the serfs which eventually upend the Russian government and destroy the power of the Tzar in the Bolshevik revolution She also seemed to fear her son’s involvement in the government as a potential threat to her own rule but the act of distancing him from power would ultimately be her own son’s downfall
6 minutes | Mar 7, 2018
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