Feb 19, 2020
February 19th, 2020

Quiz: The Norse gods lived in Asgard, The blessed in Valhalla, and Loki and the damned lived in Hel (Helheim). Where do we mortals live?

Yesterdays’ question answered below: In the 1700s, what did it mean when you said you were,” Married to Brown Bess.”
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HISTORY FOR 2/19/2020
Birthdays: Copernicus is 1542, Luigi Boccherini, Smokey Robinson, Andre Breton, Lee Marvin, Sir Cedric Hardwicke. Karen Silkwood, Paul Terry, Paul Krause, Merl Oberon, Amy Tam, John Frankenheimer, Jeff Daniels, Benicio Del Toro is 53, Hilary Duff

Today is the Feast of Saint Wulfstan of Worchester.

197AD- General Septimius Severus of the African Legions had seized control of the Roman Empire was declared emperor. This day he defeated his last rival, Albinus, the commander of the legions of Gaul. He left Albinus’ dead body in front of his headquarters, where for fun he trampled it repeatedly with his horse. Albinus‘ corpse continued to lay around for days, being torn by dogs and vermin. Finally it stank so badly, it was dumped into a nearby stream.

1600- The monk Giordano Bruno was one of the first modern skeptics. He raged against superstition, and denied there was any such thing as Hell or Purgatory. But his chief crime was his expansion on the Copernican Theory. He said that not only is the Earth revolving around the sun, but that the Universe is Infinite and unfathomable. That God should not be belittled, being focused on one little people, on one little rock. He is an Infinite Presence ruling over countless worlds. This day in Rome, Giordano Bruno was stripped naked and burned at the stake, with a iron nail hammered through his tongue and his writings chained to his chest. Later thinkers like Galileo and Descartes kept Bruno’s fate in mind when they went too far in bucking Holy Mother Church.

1674- The Second Treaty of Breda settled the Third Dutch War with England. As part of the settlement, Holland gave up any chance of getting back her colonies in North America, now renamed by the English New York and New Jersey. Truth be told they weren’t bringing in much income anyway. They were considered of little value.

1725- The first recorded case of spontaneous combustion.

1736- Georg Frederich Handel’s oratorio Alexander’s Feast premiered at Covent Garden.

1807- AARON BURR, former vice president of the U.S, is arrested in Alabama territory for treason. Napoleon's attack on Spain put the Spanish Americas in confusion. Mexico declared her independence, the U.S. occupied West Florida (Alabama) and James Madison thought we should also take Cuba. Aaron Burr was organizing a freelance military expedition (called a filibuster) to take Texas away from Spain, but President Tom Jefferson suspected him of more sinister purposes. In this age of Napoleonic adventurers a frustrated ambition like Burr's might be thinking of taking over New Orleans (only American for 3 years) or even a march on Washington City!

Burr was put on trial but nothing could be proven. The state's chief witness General James Wilkinson was taken apart on the stand as a consummate liar - Chief Justice John Marshal tried to subpoena the President, but Jefferson invented the concept of "Executive Privilege, saying a president can't be put under oath. So Marshal had no alternative but to acquit Burr. Tom Jefferson in a rage tried to have Burr's defense attorney jailed and the Chief Justice impeached- Justice Marshal was Jefferson's cousin. But Burr got away. He lived in Paris for a while, and when he died at 81 he was being sued by a woman for getting her pregnant.

1847-“ ARE YOU FROM CALIFORNIA OR ARE YOU FROM HEAVEN?” The Donner Party found at last. The wagon train of settlers had been trapped in the High Sierra mountains of California near Lake Truckee in blizzard conditions with no food since last October 31st. Half the settlers were dead and the rest subsisting on cannibalizing the dead for food. This day a survivor named John Reed who got to safety returned with a rescue party from Sutter’s Fort. Of the 89 original settlers only 45 made it out alive. One opened a restaurant.

1878- Thomas Edison patented the phonograph.

1913- Crackerjacks start putting toy prizes in every box. Legend has it the name Crackerjack for the caramel corn was named for the reaction of Teddy Roosevelt trying it for the first time- These caramel-corns are Crackerjack!

1915- Grand Admiral von Tirpitz told German newspapers that his strategy to win the Great War was to use his submarine u-boats to blockade Britain and prevent food, fuel and supplies entering from the outside world.

1915- L.A. Times publisher and land baron Harry Chandler was indicted with 8 other prominent Angeleanos for conspiring to start a new revolution in Mexico. The Mexican government had seized their large land holdings there for land redistribution, and this was their quaint little way of getting them back.

1920- THE MYSTERY OF ANASTASIA- This day came the first news reports that a emotionally disturbed young woman who tried to jump into a Berlin canal claimed to be the Archduchess Anastasia Romanov, youngest child of the Czar and Czarina of Russia. She somehow escaped the 1918 massacre of her family and tried to prove it by recalling minute details about the Imperial household. She was called Anna Anderson and was the toast of New York and Parisian society for awhile. But unlike the movies, the Romanov family in exile never took her seriously and Anna eventually married and settled down. In 1991 extensive attempts to match her DNA with the Romanovs proved she was not the little archduchess.

1942-Japanese planes bombed the Australian Port of Darwin, Australians brace for an invasion. In the beginning of the war Australia sent all her manpower to Europe to help mother England, figuring the U.S. Navy could handle anything in Asia. Now the U.S. Navy was sunk or on the run, the Japanese were massing for invasion while the Australian army was on the other side of the world in North Africa and Europe.
When the Australian prime minister asked Churchill for his divisions back to defend the homeland, Churchill refused, saying he couldn't spare them. In the end the Japanese never did invade, and relations between Aussies and Brits have been dodgy ever since.

1942-PRESIDENT FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT signed Executive Order# 9066- The JAPANESE INTERNMENT ACT- All along the Pacific Coast first and second generation Japanese-Americans were uprooted from their homes and property and with what only they could carry were shipped off to camps in the desert. Few Japanese-Americans were interned in Hawaii however, because it would have seriously depleted the population. Many got no restitution for their lost property.
. Although the F.B.I. kept tabs on German and Italian agents in U.S. and pro-Fascist groups like the American Bund flourished in the 30’s, nothing like what happened to Japanese Americans occurred to them. Less than 10,000 Germans were rounded up as compared to over 100,000 Japanese-Americans.

1943- Battle of Kasserine Pass ended. Rommel the Desert Fox showed he had a few tricks left, beating up the American army in its debut, and embarrassing Eisenhower's first combat command. He lured the Yanks into a narrow pass and chopped them up. It was the only time in the European war that American G.I.s broke and ran.

1945- THE INVASION of IWO JIMA-The nine mile square bit of barren beach cost over 50,000 lives. This island and Okinawa were the test cases to judge how fiercely the Japanese would fight for mainland Japan. Iwo Jima was the first island that wasn't conquered territory of some other people but was considered part of the home Japanese Islands, only 700 miles from Tokyo.

1944- Writer John Steinbeck asked that his name be taken off of the credits for the Alfred Hitchcock film version of “Lifeboat”. “In view of the fact that my script for the picture was distorted in production.”

1945- While Allied armies crossed into Germany on all sides, Nazi S.S. leader Heinrich Himmler contacted the neutral Swedish diplomat Count Bernadotte to try and open secret peace talks behind Hitler's back. Bernadotte asked as a condition that all concentration camps in the Reich be turned over to the International Red Cross. Himmler balked at that, but agreed to allow food packages to be delivered to Nordic prisoners. When Hitler finds out Himmler was trying to cut his own deal, he was extremely upset. Himmler was under house arrest at the end of the war.

1951-Poet philosopher Andre Gide died in Paris. Several things were quoted as his last words, my favorite is " Before you quote me, please make sure I'm conscious."

1954- The prototype Ford Thunderbird auto completed.

1960- Bill Keane's "Family Circus" cartoon strip debuts.

1963- The book The Feminine Mystique was published. Betty Freidan’s analysis of contemporary women’s issues is considered the first shot of the modern Women’s Movement.

1968- “ It’s a beautiful day in the Neighborhood…” Mister Roger’s Neighborhood debuted on National Education Television, later called PBS. Ordained Presbyterian minister Fred Rogers had been doing children’s shows similar in Pittsburgh and Canada since the 50’s, but today was the start of his national show. It would run unchanged for thirty-five years.

1995- Shapely actress Pamela Anderson married rocker Tommy Lee. On their honeymoon they shot an explicit sex tape on Lake Powell, that leaked onto the internet, becoming the first viral video. By 2000, one sixth of everything viewed on the world-wide web was about Pamela Anderson.

1990- ILM VFX artist John Knoll helped his brother grad student Tom Knoll create a surfacing and paint system for home use. Adobe bought it and today released it as Photoshop.
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Yesterdays’ question: In the 1700s, what did it mean when you said you were,” Married to Brown Bess.”

Answer: Brown Bess was the nickname of the standard issue British musket soldiers used from the American Revolution through the Napoleonic Wars. So it meant you joined the army. Also known as “taken the King’s Shilling”.


Feb 18, 2020
February 18th, 2020

Quiz: In the 1700s, what did it mean when you said you were,” Married to Brown Bess.”

Yesterdays’ question answered below: What is an aphorism?
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History for 2/18/20
Birthdays: Queen Mary I Tudor -Bloody Mary, Pietro Guarnieri the violin maker, Harry Grover- Seeley one of the founders of Paleontology, Louis Tiffany, Andre Segovia, Wendell Wilkie, Billy de Wolfe, Enzo Ferrarri, Yoko Ono is 87, Jack Palance, Milos Forman, Bobby Bachman of the Bachman Turner Overdrive, Gahan Wilson, Johnny Hart, Matt Dillon is 56, John Travolta is 66, John Hughes, Dr. Dre

Today is the feast day of Saint Simon, Jesus’ first cousin, who is often confused with Simon Zealots, one of the apostles. He was executed in the reign of the Emperor Trajan.

1386- IOGAILA WYTAUTAS also called Wladyslaw Jagiello, Grand Duke of Lithuania and grandson of Mendog the Terrible, married Jadwiga of Poland and became King of Poland-Lithuania, Hetman of the Ukraine, Voivode of Ruthenia (modern Moldova) and so on and so on.
When Jadwiga heard the news of who she was marrying her first reaction was to chop away at her door with a large axe. But later she accepted patriotically. Poland-Lithuania becomes the second largest power in Europe, and the Lithuanians are the last people in Europe to renounce Animist paganism for Christianity.

1564- Michelangelo Buonarotti died just 6 days before his 89th birthday. He was carving yet another Pieta a few days before his death.

1814- Napoleon with his little army of 15 year old conscripts stop an invading Russian army at the Battle of Montereau.

1842- Two hundred of New York City’s high society and top politicians held a banquet in honor of the visiting English author Charles Dickens. Dickens spent the evening depressing everyone with talk about his tour of the cities prisons, slums and poorhouses.

1854- McSorley’s Ale House opened on 7th St in New York City. And it is still open, the oldest bar in the city.

1856- The KNOW NOTHING PARTY held their first, and only, presidential convention. Officially called the American Party, but known for responding to reporter’s questions as “they knew nothing” This 3rd party was formed over anger at growing immigration. They sought to curb the influx of immigrants, especially Roman Catholics from Ireland and Italy. They nominated ex-President Millard Filmore for re-election, but their ranks were broken up over disagreement over slavery, so their movement sputtered out.

1878- THE LINCOLN COUNTY WARS- John Tunstall, a Scotsman who gave a number of young cowboys work on his ranch in New Mexico, was bushwhacked while his bodyguards were hunting wild turkeys. Tunstall was buried in his clan tartan kilt. This murder sparked a running gun battle between Tunstall's group led by his attorney John McSweeny, a town merchant named Murphy, rancher John Chisum and most of the county. One of Tunstall's hired hands turned this range war into a personal vendetta that would make his name famous- Billy the Kid.

1885- Mark Twain's 'Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' published.

1888- The Hotel Coronado in San Diego Cal. opened for guests. It remains one of the largest remaining wood structures in the U.S. Several presidents stayed there, the Duke of Windsor met Wallis Simpson there, and films like the Marilyn Monroe film Some Like it Hot and The Stuntman were shot there.

1930- The planet Pluto discovered- in 1909 Scientist Lord Percival Lowell had detected signs of a planet at the edge of our Solar System beyond Neptune but could not definitely confirm or identify it. They named it for the time being 'Planet X'. The Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff Arizona had searched in vain for decades until Pluto was discovered by Clyde Tumbaugh, an amateur astronomer who was allowed to occasionally use Lowell’s telescope to justify the public grants they got. Lord Lowell had just passed away before the discovery he had dedicated his life to.

1950- First Mr. Magoo cartoon "Ragtime Bear".

1953- First 3-D stereoscopic movie, "B'wana Devil" starring Robert Stack.

1964- Death of Jean-Armand Bombadier, inventor of the snowmobile.

1970- The Chicago 7, Yippie leaders of the anti-war rioting in front of the Democratic presidential convention of 1968 were found innocent of all charges. David Dillinger, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seale, Tom Hayden and the other guys. One of their offenses was trying to get a 250 pound pig onto the floor of the Convention so they could get it nominated for President.

1972- President Richard Nixon and Pat Nixon land in China.

1973- Richard Petty the Stock Car King won his first Daytona 500 race. He would go on to win 6 more and prove that NASCAR racing was one of America’s favorite though most underreported sports.

2001- Dale Earnhardt Sr, the reigning NASCAR racing car champion, died in a crash on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. His eldest son Dale Jr. placed second.
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Yesterday’s Question: What is an aphorism?

Answer: A pithy maxim, like “ a stitch in time, saves nine.”


Feb 17, 2020
February 17th, 2020

Quiz: What is an aphorism?

Yesterday’s Quiz answered below: Did George Washington really cut down a cherry tree?
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History for 2/17/2020
Birthdays: Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, Montgomery Ward, Red Barber, Marian Anderson, C'haim Potok, Jim Brown, Rene Russo, Michael Bay, Jerry O’Connell, Cybil Shepard, Huey Newton, Lou Diamond Phillips is 58, Denise Richards is 49, Paris Hilton is 39, Michael Jordan is 57, Hal Holbrook is 95!, Joseph Gordon Levitt is 51

3,201BC- According to Sumerian records, from today in the month of Hilu to the month of Eshil-March 30th occurred the GREAT FLOOD, that the story of the flood of Noah in the Bible was based on. Several ancient cultures have flood stories. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the 1920’s theorized that the Great Flood was the tidal backwash caused by the sinking of the lost continent of Atlantis.

364 AD- Valentinian I proclaimed Emperor of Rome. Just to show you could "Be-All that You could Be.." in the Roman Army, Valentinian was born to an army family based in Pannonia (Hungary). He rose through the ranks and served in Africa (Tunisia), Persia (Iraq) and Gaul (France).

1673- MOLIERE DIED. The great playwright was suffering from tuberculosis and was in failing health, but he insisting on playing the lead in his final play "The Imaginary Illness". Tonight when asked to rest instead he responded" There are fifty workman here who won’t get paid if we don’t play". He played Argan, a hypochondriac who imagined himself dying.
In the final act he uttered the word "Juro I swear," and was seized with a violent coughing fit. He covered with a joke and finished the play, but later was carried home where he died. The local priest refused to come and give him Last Rights because his play Tartuffe made fun of priests. Moliere was one of the greatest playwrights and poets of the age, and Frenchmen equate him with Shakespeare.

1814-Battle of Villeneuve- Napoleon beat somebody else once again. France had been invaded by 5 armies simultaneously. When Napoleon beat one force, the four others kept marching towards Paris.

1817-Baltimore got the first city streets lit with gaslight.

1864-THE FIRST SUCCESSFUL SUBMARINE ATTACK-. The Confederate submarine Hunley, after testing that drowned 23 men including the inventor, sails, err, chugs it's way to Yankee ships blockading Charleston Harbor. It attached an underwater bomb called a david to the hull of the warship USS Housatonic. The david exploded sinking the Housatonic, but it also dragged down the Hunley to a watery grave.
In 1995 archaeologists raised the Hunley from the harbor. The found the submarine crew still seated at their stations uninterrupted. At first it was thought they drowned, but in 2017 scientists ascertained that the concussion from the blast killed them all instantly.

The first modern diesel/electric submarine was developed by John Holland of the Holland Electric Boat Company in 1894.

1865- Gen. Sherman burns Columbia, S.C. The POPULARITY OF THE CIGARETTE- Everyone knew the Civil War just about almost over, yet try and reason with Uncle Billy. Sherman's army fresh from burning Georgia spread a wide path of destruction through the Carolinas. When Sherman's men reached the capitol of South Carolina they took special pleasure in destroying the city where the first vote to secede took place. Yankee's sang "Hail Columbia, Happy Land; If I don't burn you I'll be damned!"
Cigarettes were gaining popularity in Spain and Latin America while in the U.S. tobacco was used chiefly in cigars, pipes and chaw. A South Carolina planter in Durham had just finished developing the perfect mild blend of cigarette tobaccos, Bull Durham, when Sherman's bluecoats arrived to loot the factory. Instead of tragedy, things worked out well for the fellow. After the Civil War, the Yankees went home to towns from Maine to California and talked of the good smoke they had in South Carolina. Soon cigarette smoking was a national passion.

1876- The invention of canned sardines.

1877- THE SATSUMA REBELLION- Ever wonder whatever happed to all those samurai warriors in the movies? Part of the modernizing of Japanese society after the Mejii Restoration of 1868 was the phasing out of the samurai class. They were told to give up their swords and get a job. Some moved into the officer corps of the new western trained Japanese army. Some, rather than bear the shame of being demoted to peasant, emigrated to Hawaii under the invitation of King David Kalakaua IV.
But other samurai didn't go quietly. Led by Takamuri Saigo, this day the samurai revolted and had to be put down in several bloody battles, mowed down by modern artillery and Gatling guns. After losing the Battle of Shiroyama in Sept., Takamuri committed suicide. There is a statue of him today in Hokkaido.

1890- The Los Angeles City Council voted to change the name of their main street, called Fort Street because it led up to the old fort, to Broadway.

1906- In a White House wedding ceremony President Teddy Roosevelt saw his eldest daughter Alice married to Congressman Nicholas Longworth of Ohio. Alice was as free spirited as her father, Once, when confronted about her escapades, Teddy remarked " I can run the country or control Alice, but I cannot do both."

1911- General Motors installed in their Cadillacs the first automatic starters, replacing the handcrank. It was developed by Charles Kettering, the reason he did it was because a friend of his stopped to assist a young lady's who's engine had stalled. When he tried to get the engine started again using the hand crank, it kicked back and broke his jaw, causing gangrene, which eventually killed him.
Kettering spent many years at GM and started the Delco brand of auto parts. He also was responsible for fast drying paint which allowed a car to be painted in almost instantly on an assembly line instead of days. He sold the idea to an unbelieving client by having his car taken from the parking lot, painted and returned over a long lunch.

1912- THE NEW YORK ARMORY SHOW- Mabel Dodge and Gertrude Stein introduced the American public to modern art. The first showings of Picasso, Matisse, Duchamp and the Italian futurists in the USA. The show was denounced as a "chamber of horrors" and Matisse was burned in effigy in Chicago. Marcel Duchamp's "Nude Descending a Staircase" was described by an art critic as "an explosion in a shingle factory". Duchamp was highly gratified, I believe.

1925- First issue of Harold Ross’s The New Yorker magazine.

1934- Pennsylvanian Amos Neyhardt started the first driver’s education course.

1942- Ernst Lubitsch’s classic comedy "To Be, Or Not To Be" debuted. Adolf Hitler enters a room and after everyone "Sieg Heil" salutes him, he responds "Heil Myself!" But the comedy flopped, in part because it’s female star Carole Lombard had died tragically in a plane crash just before the film opened.

1945- Nazi scientists abandoned the Pennemunde, the V-2 rocket testing site as Allied armies overran the area.

1958 – Johnny Hart’s comic strip "BC" 1st appears

1960- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was arrested for leading the Alabama bus boycott.

1967 – The Beatles release "Penny Lane" & "Strawberry Fields"

1979- A Prairie Home Companion radio show starring Garrison Keilor was first broadcast nationally. It was a feature on Minnesota Public Radio since 1974. Garrison retired in 2016 and was accused of Me-Too sexual abuse shortly after.

1979- Barely four years after finishing the twenty-five year war with the United States and France to unify the country, The Communist government of Vietnam declared war on Communist Cambodia and picked a fight with Communist China, who invaded them. China called it the Pedagogical War.

1987- Soviet premiere Mikhail Gorbachev revealed President Ronald Reagan's preoccupation with space aliens: "At our meeting in Geneva, the U.S. President said that if the earth faced an invasion by hostile extraterrestrials, the United States and Russia could join forces to repel such an invasion. I shall not dispute the hypothesis, though I think it's early yet to worry about such an intrusion..."

1989- "Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure" premiered, starring the most excellent Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter. Whoah-Dude!

1992- Jeffrey Dahmer sentenced to life in prison without parole for drugging, torturing, murdering, cannibalizing 15 young men. Two years into his sentence he was beaten to death in prison by another murderer who said God told him to.
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Yesterday’s Quiz: Did George Washington really cut down a cherry tree?

Answer: In 1817 Parson Mason Weems wrote a book- The life of George Washington. Weems was the origin of a lot of fanciful stories like the cherry tree, “ I cannot tell a lie, I did it with my little hatchet”, and throwing a gold dollar across the Potomac. He claimed he got the mythical stories from an old neighbor who called herself Washington’s cousin.
Rev Weems’ The Life of George Washington not only was a best seller, portions were written into the McGuffy Reader, the standard schoolbook all American children were taught in school. And so the myths like the Cherry Tree became standards.


Feb. 16, 2020
February 16th, 2020

Quiz: Did George Washington really chop down a cherry tree?

Yesterday’s Question Answered below: What kind of game did Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday like to play more than poker?
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History for 2/16/2020
Birthdays: The Great Elector Frederick William of Brandenburg-Prussia, Henry Adams, Charles Taze Russell founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Edgar Bergen, James Baskett, Sonny Bono, John MacEnroe, Frank Welker, John Schlesinger, Faith Hubley, Katherine Cornell, John Corligiano, Kim Jong Il, Levar Burton is 63, Ice-T is 62

In ancient Rome it was the Festival of Quirinalia- when Romulus the founder of Rome was taken up into the sky to become the god Quirinus.

304AD- Today is the feast of St. Juliana of Nicomedia, who was tortured by both her father AND her boyfriend. I know a lot of you girls out there can relate to that. She also liked to wrestle winged devils in her spare time.

1804- To The Shores of Tripoli....The U.S. Navy goes to North Africa to try and get the Barbary Pirates to leave Yankee merchant ships alone. The Barbary Pirates had been extorting money from Mediterranean shipping for hundreds of years, but they weren’t a problem while American shipping was under British Royal Navy protection. But now the little republic was on it’s own. When the Bey of Algiers demanded his usual payoff the U.S. Congress said: "Millions for defense, but not one cent for Tribute!" So the US Navy was sent.
The frigate U.S.S. Philadelphia was sent to Tripoli harbor to threaten, but only managed to get stuck on a sand bar and her entire crew became hostages. On this day Captain Stephen Decatur sneaked into Tripoli harbor and burned the Philadelphia. British Admiral Nelson said it was "one of the boldest actions of the age. "Actually more valuable was when Decatur landed a small force of U.S. Marines and Greek mercenaries who overland surprised the largest Algerian fortress at Dara and compelled the Bey of Algiers into making peace.

1808- Napoleon invaded Spain. After he defeated the Spanish Army and occupied Madrid, the Spanish people didn’t roll over quietly like other nations. They fought on as Guerrillas, little wars. The violence in what the French called the Spanish Ulcer raged unabated until they were driven out by Wellington in 1814.

1842- British General Charles Gordon took command of the Ever Victorious Army in China to combat the Taiping Rebellion. The Ever-Victorious was a force of mercenaries recruited by an American named Stone to help the Manchu Emperor defeat his enemies western style. The leader of the Taipings, Zsu Wang Ti, had told his followers he was the son of Jesus Christ come to Earth to lead them to victory. Gordon’s army soon destroyed the Taipings, and Tzu committed suicide by eating as much gold leaf as necessary.

1848- Frederic’ Chopin played his last concert in Paris. Slowly dying from incurable tuberculosis, the 48 year old retired to the isle of Majorca, and died a year later.

1862- FORT HENRY & DONELSON. Confederate strongholds Fort Henry and Ft. Donelson surrendered to an new yankee general named Ulysses S. Grant. Rebel cavalry leader Nathan Bedford Forrest on his own initiative cut his way out of the encircling bluecoats rather than surrender. Southern commander Simon Bolivar Buckner was a personal friend of Sam Grant before the war and even lent Grant money when he was broke. Buckner now expected favorable terms, but Grant bluntly demanded Unconditional Surrender! The initials matched his name and the little cigar smoking drunk became a hero to a demoralized North. But Simon Bolivar Buckner never forgave him and never spoke to him until Grant was on his deathbed in 1885.

1863- THE DRAFT- U.S. Congress passed the National Conscription Act. The Confederates had started drafting a year before. Riots broke out in Northern cities whenever the draft board set up. Rich men could buy their way out for $300. John Rockefeller, Grover Cleveland and Teddy Roosevelt’s father took that way out. There was a popular song of the era called "We are Coming Father Abraham, Three Hundred Thousand More" which was changed by wags to “We are Coming Father Abraham, Three Hundred Dollars More."

1923- Bessie Smith made her first recording-"Downhearted Blues".

1937- Chemist Wallace Caruthers working for the Dupont Company received the patent for Nylon. He was trying to find something to replace horsehair bristles for toothbrushes. What he got was a fabric that could replace expensive silk. By World War II nylon stockings for women were so popular that limited by shortages for parachutes, resourceful women would draw a seam in pencil down their bare leg to impersonate the effect.

1942- Operation Drumroll- Hitler sent a wolfpack of 5 large long-range U-Boat submarines to attack ships along the American east coast.

1959- Fidel Castro takes the oath as President of Cuba.

1978- The first computer bulletin board goes on live. Two guys from Chicago named Ward Christensen and Randy Seuss built a Computerized Bulletin Board System that was an S-100 motherboard and CP/M, and a Hayes 300 baud modem. It still runs to this day, but the Internet has taken the place that BBS's used to have.

1987-"Family Dog" episode on Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories show. The first direction by Brad Bird.

1994- Apple announced the introduction of the digital camera, the first camera that needed no film but could load images directly into a computer. They added it to the iPhone in 2007. Within ten years Polaroid and Kodak were filing for bankruptcy.
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Question: What kind of game did Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday like to play more than poker?

Answer: The preferred to play Faro, a draw-card game where players bet against the bank. Of the many professions Wyatt Earp had in his life, the one he was best at, besides shooting people, was as a professional faro dealer.


Feb 14, 2020
February 14th, 2020

Quiz: In 1988 hesitant Democratic Presidential candidate Mario Cuomo joked:” The American people would never elect a president who’s name ended in a vowel”. Since that we’ve had President Barack Obama. So, have any other U.S. Presidents had a name that ended in a vowel?

Answer to yesterday’s question below: What does it mean to be idiosyncratic?
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History for 2/14/2020
Birthdays: Joshua Norton aka Joshua Ist Emperor of the United States 1819, Jack Benny- real name Benjamin Koubeilsky, Frederick Douglas, Christopher Latham Scholes- inventor of the typewriter, George Washington Ferris inventor of the Ferris Wheel, Pier Francesco Cavalli, Jimmy Hoffa, Vic Morrow, Skeezix Wallet (character in Gasoline Alley comic strip), Gregory Hines, Ignaz Friedman, Thelma Ritter, Carl Andersen, Hugh Downs, Jim Kelly, Florence Henderson, Meg Tilly, Alan Parker, Simon Pegg is 49,
Margaret Knight the inventor of the flat bottom paper bag still in use in supermarkets today. The character Lara Croft, is 52.

Happy Valentines Day!

This holiday was originally the Roman fertility festival LUPERCALIA, when the young men of Rome wearing nothing but olive oil, would run through the streets waving oak branches over the heads of young girls to inspire fertility. They also spanked each other with little whips. Then they would all go to the orgy.
Keeping with the custom of the early Church to sanctify pagan holidays with saints days, Pope Gelasius I decided to rename the holiday for St.Valentine, who was martyred by Emperor Claudius II Gothicus in 295 A.D.. The olive oil, whips and orgy were out, but tradition has it that Valentine in prison kept communicating with his flock by writing little notes and tossing them through the bars. The notes were written on little leaves (silphium) that are the familiar heart shape we use today (which looks nothing like a real heart.). These notes or "Valentines" fused with the romance notion of the old Roman party and became a custom for lovers as early as the 14th century.

44BC- After years of Civil War Gaius Julius Caesar was now master of Rome. He kept most of the institutions of the Roman Republic but declared himself Dictator and Consul for life. He had been heard to say “the Republic is just a word, without real substance”. People wondered if he was out to make himself king. The concept of a King was hateful to most Romans, regardless of their political party.
This day at a Lupercalia celebration one of his biggest brown-nosing lieutenants, Marc Antony, publicly tried to put a crown on Caesar’s head. Caesar refused it twice. Instead of popular enthusiasm, this gesture alarmed many. A conspiracy formed to kill Caesar led by Marcus Brutus, a descendant of Junius Brutus the founder of the republic, and Gaius Cassius Longinus, who had fought for Pompey against Caesar.

Today in the Orthodox calendar is the Feast of Saint’s Cyril and Methodius, the “Apostles to the Slavs”, who created the Russian (Cyrillic) alphabet out of Greek and Hebrew characters.

1779- Captain James Cook was killed and eaten by angry Hawaiian natives after an argument over hostages. Despite heavy attack the shore party rallied and fought their way back to the longboats thanks to their second in command, ensign William Bligh, the future Captain Bligh of the Bounty.

1797- Battle of Cape St. Vincent. The British Navy under Admiral Jervis defeated a Spanish fleet off the coast of Portugal. Admiral Nelson was there in support.

1814- Battle of Vauchamps. Napoleon beats Marshal Blucher and his invading Prussian army. Blucher was called Old Fowvarts (Forward) because that was his favorite order.

1824- KING CAUCUS- Just in case you wished for a more innocent time in American politics, consider this election. A group of powerful Congressmen of the dominant Whig party tried to predetermine that the next president would be easy to control by nominating William Crawford, who was blind and paralyzed from a stoke. Remember in those days of poor communications most citizens would never even see a President except for an artist's picture in a newspaper.
The scheme was foiled and John Quincy Adams was elected president, even though more people voted for Andrew Jackson. This was done via another scheme hatched with Henry Clay that had manipulated entire states into his camp when not one soul had voted for him, then traded them to Adams for the Secretary of State job.
The later angry public outrage over "King Caucus" led to liberalization of the election process. Jackson easily defeated Adams re-election bid in 1828.

1848- President James Knox Polk is the first sitting president to sit for a photograph. The daguerreotype was taken by a young Matthew Brady. John Quincy Adams was the earliest former president to be photographed.

1859- Oregon became a state.

1870- The first elevated commuter railway was inaugurated in New York City at Greenwich and 9 Ave.

1876- THE TELEPHONE- One of the strangest coincidences in technology history was that two men invented the same device at almost the same moment.
Scotsman Alexander Graham Bell in Boston and Elijah Gray in Chicago were both working on a device to transmit human voices instantaneously over electric wires. Each knew of the others work and labored furiously to be the first. When Bell was able to get a weak sound of his voice over the wire his sponsor and future father in law Robert Hubbard wanted to file the patent. But Bell procrastinated until he felt it was perfect. Exasperated, Hubbard took the schematics and went to the office to file the patent himself. What he found out later, was he filed the patent barely two hours ahead of Gray in Chicago! Bell’s patent was granted on March 7.
Gray tried to challenge the patent. US courts decided that since Grays attorney had filed a “caveat” to a patent- which meant I’m working on an idea” while Hubbard & Bell filed a patent “I’ve invented the idea”, they awarded the patent to Bell. Elijah Gray still went on to invent more things, founded the Western Electric Company and grew very rich. But Alexander Graham Bell got the immortality as inventor of the telephone.

1884-25 year old Teddy Roosevelt was an up and coming member of the New York State legislature. On this day he received a double shock - both his mother and young wife died on the same day. Shattered, he abandoned his political career and fled to the Badlands of North Dakota to be a rancher and deputy sheriff. He said the landscape was so bleak it "looked like the personification of a poem by Edgar Alan Poe."

1886- Los Angeles began to export its first trainload of oranges back east.

1887- Several leading French intellectuals including Guy De Maupassant, Honore’Balzac, and Charles Gounod publish a letter to the President of the Republic begging him not to build the Eiffel Tower" A Useless Monstrosity, which even America with it's crazed passion for commerce has the sense to reject! And what if it lasts 20 years?" There were plans to pull down the tower 1907 but by then it had new value as a wireless radio antenna.
Novelist Guy de Maupassant, hated the tower but still went to its restaurant every day. When asked why, he said, "Because it is the only place in Paris where I cannot see it".

1907- Golden Books incorporated. One of their artists was Gustav Tennegren, who would become the stylist of Walt Disney's Pinocchio.

1917- I.A. Lilly became the first female N.Y. subway train conductor.

1919-THE SPARTACISTS- The government offices in Berlin are seized by Communists. Inspired by the Revolution in Russia they try to declare the Soviet Republic of Germany. They called themselves Spartacists after Spartacus the leader of the slave rebellion against ancient Rome. Right-wing paramilitary private militias called frei-korps led by former Imperial officers entered the city and battle the Bolsheviks for control of the streets. One of the reasons why businessmen in the west were later so cozy with Hitler was their relief that Germany didn’t turn into another Soviet Union.

1920- The League of Women Voters formed.

1927-Alfred Hitchcock’s first suspense film “The Lodger” opened in London.

1929- Dr. Fleming discovered penicillin.

1929- the ST. VALENTINE'S DAY MASSACRE- Scarface Al Capone's men dressed as Chicago police round up a bunch of Bugs Moran's hoods at the S.M.C. Cartage Company garage at 2122 North Clark Street and blow them away with tommy guns. Capone subcontracted the job to Detroit’s Purple Gang. Dr Reinhardt Schwimmer, one of the men killed, wasn’t even a mobster but an optometrist who liked to hang out with gangsters to experience life on the edge. The seven men had 200 bullets in them. They even shot their dog. When Moran was asked who he thought had done it, he replied: ”Only Capone kills like that.” Big Al himself was in Key Biscayne Florida having lunch with the Dade County District Attorney.
One of the triggermen was Machine-gun Jack McGurn, but when questioned by police his girlfriend testified he had been in bed with her all that day. Newspapers called her his 'Blonde-Alibi". Machine Gun McGurn was bumped off shortly after.
At the massacre site amazingly one gangster- Joe Duesenberg- lived long enough for police to question. But to the end he wouldn't spill the beans. When asked who shot him full of bullets, he replied:" Nobody!" and died.

1931- Tod Browning's film of the play Dracula, starring Hungarian actor's union organizer and recreational morphine addict Bela Lugosi, premiered.

1939- The German battleship Bismarck christened in Kiel harbor.

1942- Japanese forces attacked Sumatra.

1943- Battle of the Kasserine Pass began- Rommel the Desert Fox gave the U.S. Army in Africa it's baptism by ambushing it in the narrow Kasserine Pass. The only time in WWII American troops broke and ran away in panic.

1946- John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert Unveil The ENIAC, the first all electronic circuited computer, started up at the University of Pennsylvania.

1949- The United States charged that the Soviet Union had as many as 14 million people in prison camps in Siberia, called Gulags.

1962- First Lady Jackie Kennedy gave a tour to network television cameras of the private living quarters of the White House. It’s the first time most Americans had ever seen the inside of the Executive Mansion. She worked mostly without a script, adding her own details as she went along. The day after the broadcast, Pres. Kennedy called the FCC just to see how here Nielsen ratings were. They were much higher than his speeches ever were.

1965- The Detroit home of black activist Malcolm X was firebombed.

1967- Former kinky pinup model Betty Page married Harry Lear.

1968- Part of the Vietnamese Tet Offensive was the Communists overrunning the old Imperial Capitol of Hue. This day US Marines finally recaptured the cities Imperial citadel after weeks of bitter street fighting. The Communist command center was set up in a throne room called the Place of Perpetual Peace.

1979- Digital music composer Walter Carlos, who scored the film A Clockwork Orange, announced he had undergone a sex change and was now Wendy Carlos.

1989- Iranian Imam Ayatollah Khomeni issued a 'fatwah' -death sentence against Pakistani born novelist Salman Rushdi because he considered parts of his book "The Satanic Verses" to an insult to the prophet Mohammed. The fatwah was finally revoked in 2000 by the Supreme Islamic Council (Iran's equivalent of the Supreme Court).

1990- As the Voyager 1 spacecraft was leaving our solar system, Dr. Carl Sagan had the spaceship look back and take a family photo of our planet system, 3.7 billion miles away. A few faint dots on a distant sunbeam.

1991-Meg Ryan married Dennis Quaid.
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Yesterday’s Question: What does it mean to be idiosyncratic?

Answer: Meaning to be individual, distinctive and eccentric.


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