Returning to the Shakespeare authorship controversy, I checked a pro-Oxfordian web site, then a pro-Stratford Shakespeare web site (), in order to read the arguments firsthand, and found the latter's arguments devastating. There is no good reason to think the Bard was anyone other than Shakespeare of Stratford. And that seems to be the consensus of academics who have looked into the issue. The Oxfordians tend to be amateur sleuths who use shoddy scholarship, misinformation, selective reading of the evidence, etc.
Liza's analysis looks solid to me. Arguments denying the straightforward existence of Shakespeare remind me of other bizarre denials of obvious occurrences in history.
As to inventions, my history book credits Vladimir Zworykin, of Russia, as the leading inventor of the essence of TV. Italian-trained Enrico Fermi was co-patentee on the nuclear reactor, along with Leo Szilard. Jet engine? A Brit named Frank Whittle. Car? Germans invented it, I think. Steel? Thank the Brit Bessemer. In fact, aside from a half-dozen persons, Europe invented as much as America. Those half-dozen Americans are Edison (numerous great inventions, and theory underlying vacuum tube/transistor), Carlson (xerox machine), Eastman (photography), Wright Brothers (airplanes) and Goodyear (tires). (The list Roger circulated has many far-fetched attributions, such as claiming there was an individual inventor of the computer, the world-wide web, and the laser.)
The real edge given by the American patent system is the proprietary right to exploit an invention for a limited time, followed by the power of the free market to improve it thereafter. It is not so much the incentive for the initial invention that made America the leader, but the powerful legal rights relating to the exploitation of the invention.
What powerful legal rights? Look at your list of inventors, and tell who rightfully got rich off of patents? How many of them were within the last 50 years? I think that the US patent system is badly broken.