10th Annual Year in Review (100 Years Later): Elite Eight

By Aaron Boyes and Sean Graham

Last week we launched our annual Year in Review (100 Years Later), but this time with a bit of a twist: reader voting to determine who moves on. After hundreds of votes on Twitter, Instagram, and through email, we tallied everything up and determined which events have moved on in their quest to be crowned the most important of 1922 and join the elite group of past winners. With one glaring exception, we’re ok with the first round results, which played out like this:

Discoveries Bracket

Vitamin D Isolated defeated King Tut’s Tomb Discovered (105-30)

Steel Tape Measure Invented defeated Good Humor Bar Invented (111-24)

Around the World Bracket

USSR Founded defeated Mussolini Becomes Prime Minister of Italy (108-27)

Ottoman Empire Collapses defeated British Mandate of Palestine Begins (81-39)

Entertainment Bracket

Nosferatu Released defeated First Little Rascals Short Films (69-42)

TV Receiver Patented defeated BBC Founded (72-63)

Potpourri Bracket

Japan Launches First Purposefully built Air Craft Carrier defeated First Mid-Air Collision of Commercial Air-Liners (66-45)

Canadian Tire Founded defeated MLB Monopoly (96-33)

So this week we assess the winners as we see who will make it to the Final Four. Like last week, you can vote via the Twitter polls embedded here, through a comment on the post, or through email at historyslam@gmail.com

Discoveries Bracket

2) Steel Tape Measure Invented


4) Vitamin D Isolated

Sean: What is particularly notable about any science-related topic we cover in these brackets – at least as two non-scientists – is that the discovery is frequently just the start of something bigger. In the case of vitamin D, for instance, it led to further experiments on animal fats and UV rays as cures for rickets. Essentially, now that scientists had access to Elmer McCollum’s experiments, they could push the science forward in an effort to find the best possible way for people to get the vitamin D they needed. It serves as a stark reminder that science isn’t static. Knowledge through experimentation continues and we, as lay people, need to be conscious of that.

Aaron: You raise some excellent points here, Sean. Every discovery leads to more discoveries as science learns from science. If something is accepted as a fact and then disproved, science doesn’t discard everything and say it was wrong; rather, it seeks to understand more in the search for truth. For this reason, I would vote for the isolation of Vitamin D if I had a vote (which I do not). All that to say, I am quite impressed with the tape measure patent and the impact it had on future iterations. Megan and I have used numerous tape measures in our various projects at our house, and I appreciate how easy it is to use the self-retracting steel tape measure .

Sean: I guess we could have voted in the last round. Why didn’t we vote? That seems like a foolish oversight in ret

rospect. I really hope someone gets fired for that blunder.

*The producer could still not be reached as they are still in a plane.

Around the World Bracket

1) USSR Founded 


2) Ottoman Empire Collapses

Sean: An empire’s time rises and falls like the sun. One day, the sun set on these empires and rose on another. Now there’s more to being an Empire than getting your way all the time. Everything you see exists in a delicate balance. An Empire needs to understand that balance and respect all the constituents, from the bureaucrat to the construction worker. When one Empire dies, there is a vacuum and a new Empire comes to prominence. And so, we are all connected in the great circle of Empires.

I fear that the temporal window of this matchup will skew the results. There is no doubt that the USSR and the resulting Soviet Empire (if you want to use that word) fundamentally shaped geo-politics in the 20th century, but we need to remember that it was an exclusively 20th century phenomenon. If we take the totality of the Ottoman Empire, that’s over 600 years from its early rise. At one point, it held most of southeastern Europe, parts of the Middle East, and North Africa as far as Algeria. Its territorial expansion and related military campaigns led to the deaths and enslavement of millions of people. At the same time, some have argued that the fleeing of scholars from Constantinople following its capture by the Ottomans fuelled the Renaissance in Italy. These are just two examples from a long list of significant global events the Ottoman Empire fundamentally shaped. So I think it’s important we don’t succumb to recency bias.

Aaron: I agree that recency bias may play a heavy role in this match up. While the USSR collapsed in 1991, many of its political and social elements can still be felt today. The Cold War still looms large in many people’s minds – the old East versus West argument – which every so often pops up in political discourse. But that shouldn’t detract from the significance of the Ottoman Empire, which was one of the largest ever in world history. Its military, economic, social, scientific and political might for several centuries cannot be understated. Under the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul (formerly Constantinople) developed into a cosmopolitan city that was at the forefront of commerce, religion, sharing of ideas, and the movement of people. Removing recency bias as much as possible, I believe that the end of the Ottoman Empire and its influence for more than six hundred years is the more significant event. 

Sean: Pops up every so often? Have you been living under a rock the last 9 months? That’s been the primary driver in international relations in 2022.

Aaron: You know that I’ve basically been living under a rock for the past 9 months as I awaited the arrival of my second child. She decided to come a week early so she could vote in this instalment of the Year in Review – no minimum voting age for this thing!

Sean: That still doesn’t it mean USSR Founded should win, but with its presence still so strongly felt (and arguments that Putin’s ultimate goal is its reformation), it could have a good chance at the Year in Review (200 Years Later) in 2122.

Entertainment Bracket

1) Nosferatu Released


 2) TV Receiver Patented

Aaron: See, Sean? I told you that radio was a dying medium and the people agreed with me.

In all seriousness, I am somewhat surprised that the TV patent moved on and not the BBC. Despite my glib arguments, I thought that the BBC was a stronger event. But, the people have spoken and at least here in this bracket – unlike in some American states – we respect the will of the voters.

For this matchup, I think that Nosferatu is the more significant event. From its eerie story telling, to the great acting by Max Schreck, Nosferatu helped to define the horror movie. 

Meanwhile, the TV patent is certainly important as it, like the argument made above regarding Vitamin D, helped to spur the technological advancements in television technologies. However, the patent discussed herein is only one of many patents that eventually led to better technology; it’s not like we’re talking about the first mass-produced or first commercially successful TV set, which of course came later.

Sean: I wouldn’t write the eulogy for radio just yet, my friend. Howard Stern makes around $85 million a year doing his show, SiriusXM just bought Conan O’Brien’s podcast network for its airwaves, and conservative talk radio in the United States continues to influence millions of listeners.

But rather than focus on last week’s matchup, this week I again think that the TV patent is overmatched. It’s the cultural longevity of Nosferatu that really stands out to me as some of the movie’s trivia really highlight its significance in popular culture. For instance, many people have attributed the idea that sunlight is lethal to vampires to this film. Similarly, the film goes against what we would expect out of a 21st century picture as Count Orlok, one of the more recognizable characters of all time, first appears on film 21 minutes into the movie. That foundational influence has defined so much of popular culture, including television, that I have to lean in that direction.

Art Film GIF by hoppip - Find & Share on GIPHY

Potpourri Bracket

3) Canadian Tire Founded  


4) Japan Launches First Purposefully Built Air Craft Carrier

Sean: Out of the 8 matchups in the first round, I only felt really strongly that there was a clear correct answer in one of them. And somehow, the vote got it wrong. That the first midair collision between aircraft is eliminated is, by far, the most shocking result of the bracket so far. Rather than the event that led to air traffic control, we have a thing that already existed through retrofitting now being purpose built. It doesn’t quite have the same long term impact, in my most humble of opinions.

That being said, the latter does still have something to do with planes, so here is the case.

The Hosho, Japan’s purpose-built aircraft carrier, provided valuable lessons for the Imperial Japanese Navy. In particular, aircrews recommended the removal of the superstructure to eliminate flight obstructions. This was done in 1924 and was another step in the long process of making aircraft carriers a dominant military tool. This was especially true for Japan, which had the largest aircraft fleet in the world at the start of the Second World War. The Hosho, which translates to ‘phoenix flying’, saw action during the 1932 Shanghai incident, the early part of the Sino-Japanese war, and the Battle of Midway. So for as much as it stands out as the first of its kind, it would be a notable ship just for its military engagements. 

When put into that context, I would have to argue that it’s a greater significance than a national retailer in Canada. Sure, we all love Canadian Tire and it’s one of a handful of stores that you can immediately identify by smell alone, but it doesn’t resonate on the same global scale.

Aaron: This may come a surprise, but I disagree with you, Sean, and not because the the Hosho is plane-related. I believe that the founding of Canadian Tire deserves to move on in this match up. From its humble origins in which it dealt exclusively with tires and automobile-related service, Canadian Tire is now ubiquitous in Canada, both as a retail outlet and its place in Canadian culture. The stores offer an array of products – from automotive, to kitchen, to electronics, paint, outdoors, sporting goods, etc. – making it often a one-stop shopping location. And although it may not be the case, it feels like there’s a Canadian Tire in almost every town (at least in Ontario where I have done most of my travels) and you can get the same products at each location. As for its cultural significance, we already mentioned the classic ad campaign of Giving Like Santa, but Saving like Scrooge and Canadian Tire money. It’s part of stereotypical Canadian conversations to say “I’m going to Canadian Tire to get…” and everyone knows that you can get what you need.

Sean: So if I read this right, you’re advocating for corporatized chains that remove any and all local culture in favour of a sterile, soulless shopping experience? And what if I need, say, a Honus Wagner T206 card? Can I get that there? So maybe not everything you need.

We should note, too, that Canadian Tire wasn’t the first of these now ubiquitous national chains, but rather the most prominent Canadian example of one. And if we’re nothing else here in the Year in Review (100 Years Later), we are cosmopolitan in our assessments.

Aaron: If you’re looking for baseball cards, why stop with Wagner? Why not also get Cap Anson, Pie Traynor, Jim Creighton, Gabbie Street, Nap Lajoie, Harry Hooper, Joe Jackson, and Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown? Is it because your right fielder has been dead for over a hundred and thirty years? Maybe you should seek out Don Mattingly – and ask him to shave his sideburns while you’re at it. 

Season 3 Softball GIF by The Simpsons - Find & Share on GIPHY

Sean: Cap Anson and Nap Lajoie are criminally underrated members of 3,000 hit club while Joe Jackson dominated the 1919 World Series, raising serious doubt about his culpability in the Black Sox scandal, so perhaps those would be good cards to get. And Mattingly should shave his sideburns – we’re trying to win ball games here.

Anyway, I, a Canadian, have been on board an international (decommissioned) aircraft carrier more recently than I have been in a Canadian Tire, and I would suggest that there are millions more around the world who can say that rather than the other way around. So, clearly, case closed.

Be sure to join us next week for the results, plus you can vote on who will be moving on to the Enrico Palazzo Pre-Memorial Championship Game.

Past Winners

1910: Binder Clip Patented

1911: First International Women’s Day

1912: Titanic Sinks on Maidan Voyage

1913: Zipper Patent

1914: First Successful Non-Direct Blood Transfusion

1915: Women’s Suffrage Legalized in Kingdom of Denmark

1916: Margaret Sanger Opens First American Birth Control Clinic in Brooklyn

1917: Russian Revolution

1918: Spanish Flu Pandemic

1919: First Nonstop Transatlantic Flight

Winners at War: Women’s Suffrage in the Kingdom of Denmark

1920: Toaster Patent

1921: Discovery of Insulin

Aaron Boyes has a PhD from the University of Ottawa

Sean Graham is host of What’s Old is News and a contributing editor with Activehistory.ca

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Blog posts published before October  28, 2018 are licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada License.

Please note: ActiveHistory.ca encourages comment and constructive discussion of our articles. We reserve the right to delete comments submitted under aliases, or that contain spam, harassment, or attacks on an individual.