April 18, 2015 sat
April 18th, 2015

Quiz: Why is the second movement of the Mozart Piano Concerto #21 called Elvira Madigan ?

Yesterday’s question answered below: What does it mean to be idiosyncratic?
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History for 4/18/2015
Birthdays: Lucrezia Borgia, Franz Von Suppe’, Haley Mills, Leopold Stokowski, Miklos Rosza, Herb Sorell, Wahoo Sam Crawford, Conan O’Brien is 52, James Woods is 68, Eric Roberts, Rick Moranis is 63, Maria Bello is 48, David Tennant is 44.

185AD- Today is the Feast Day of the Roman martyr Saint Apollonnius.

1506- Pope Julius II lays the cornerstone for St. Peter's Basilica. He had pulled down the old St. Peters, which had stood for 1200 years. The new structure designed by Bramante with the Dome by Michelangelo and the interiors by Sangallo and later Bernini.
With true Renaissance modesty, Julius originally wanted his own tomb in the center under the altar, borne aloft by four giants carved by Michelangelo. I guess nobody mentioned the grave of St. Peter, overtop which this Basilica was being built. Eventually Julius scaled down his plans, and when he died die his enemies put him in another church altogether (San Pietro Vincoli). Saint Peters was completed a little over schedule, in 1626.

1775- PAUL REVERE'S RIDE- "One if by land and two if by sea, etc." Informers in Gen. Gage's office learn the British planned to send troops to seize an illegal arms cache in Lexington and arrest two radical leaders named John Hancock and Sam Adams. So silversmith Paul Revere, Thomas Dawes and a country doctor out on a date named Dr.Prescott were sent to warn them and raise the minutemen on the way, after getting the two lantern signal in the old North Church. Dr. Prescott actually completed the mission. Revere was arrested by a British patrol soon after warning Adams & Hancock and sent home without his horse.

At daybreak Paul Revere walked over to Lexington green in time to watch the Revolutionary War begin. Longfellow's poem never mentioned Prescott or Dawes. Paul Revere never said "The British are Coming!" because he considered himself British like everyone else in America at the time. He would have said: "The Regulars are Coming! "meaning the regular army.

1778- THE WHITEHAVEN RAID- Former Scotsman John Paul Jones wanted to show the British public that the American Revolution wasn't just a distant war across the sea.
So he decided to raid the British Isles. An ulterior motive Jones had in attacking a town called Whitehaven was that Jones always suspected he was the illegitimate son of a Lord Selkirk, who resided there. It was his boyhood home and he knew its lanes and alleyways well.

So through the dead of night, while the sailors of the U.S.S. Ranger were burning and plundering the harbor, John Paul Jones was out looking to kidnap his own father. By dawn they were gone. The British Navy regarded Jones as an irritant at best but the raid was a great morale booster in the States. Jones couldn't locate his deadbeat dad, so he had to content himself with stealing the silverware.

1847- Battle of Cerro Gordo- General Winfield Scott defeated the Mexican army of Santa Anna and opened the way to Mexico City.

1857- Vice President Rufus King died of tuberculosis. President James Buchanan was totally distraught. There has been speculation that James Buchanan might have been our first Gay President. He was a lifelong bachelor, his niece Harriet Lane filled in for the social duties of First Lady. Only once in his life did Buchanan have an affair with a lady, which he broke off abruptly without explanation. When James Buchanan and Rufus King were colleagues in the Senate they roomed together and were inseparable. Old Hickory Andy Jackson liked to refer to Senators King and Buchanan " Little Miss Nancy and Mrs Buchanan".

1861-Mr. LINCOLN'S LOUSY DAY PART I- America’s top soldier Robert E. Lee declined Lincoln's offer to command the U.S. Army and instead sided with the Confederacy. In his letter doing so he confesses: "I forsee the Country will go through a terrible ordeal, a necessary expiation for our national sins."

1861-Mr. LINCOLN'S LOUSY DAY PART II- As if that news wasn't bad enough, on the same day Lincoln got a telegram from the pro-Southern Governor of Maryland saying not only would he refuse to cooperate in fighting the rebels, but he was cutting the telegraph wires and railroads into and out of Washington D.C.! Until the main union armies reached the capitol on the 24th, Washington was deserted, surrounded by a hostile slave state, with only a few Massachusetts volunteers to defend them. Maryland was only prevented from joining the Confederacy by Col. Ben Butler's initiative of sending troops into the state legislature to point their guns at the members as they voted. They voted to stay loyal.

1870- John D. Rockefeller files papers to form the Standard Oil Corporation of Ohio. One the largest companies in the world, today it is called Exxon-Mobil.

1906- THE SAN FRANCISCO EARTHQUAKE . 3,500 deaths and the city destroyed in the most frightening earthquake in U.S. History. Writer Jack London wrote:” Never has a modern Imperial city been so completely destroyed. San Francisco is gone!” Enrico Caruso was in town with the Metropolitan Opera on tour. He later sat on his suitcase in front of the ruined Palace Hotel and said- "Helluva Place! Ah’ma ’never coming back!"

Drew Barrymores grandfather the great actor John Barrymore was in a San Francisco hotel room when the quake struck. He ran into the bathroom and sat shivering in the bath until it was over. Afterward the National Guard put him to work clearing rubble looking for bodies. When they read his telegram, the other Barrymores refused to believe the story. Old John Drew, a patriarch of the acting family, felt otherwise. "It took an Act of God to get John out of bed and into a bathtub, and the National Guard to get him to go to work. I believe every word." Amadeo Gianini, founder of the Bank of America, then called the Bank of Italy, gathered up his bank's papers and stocks and buried them in his garden under the begonias until his new office could be set up. He soon set up for business again on a pier. City government was set up in the undamaged St. Francis Hotel on Powell Street and a large mahogany bar was moved out to the street to serve free drinks to calm nerves.

San Franciscans dusted themselves off and rebuilt. By 1913 they were doing well enough to host the World’s Fair. A little ditty of the time said:
"They say God spanked the town, for being rather frisky.
Then why'd He knocked the churches down yet leave up
Hotaling's Whiskey ?"

1914-. The full feature length movie premiered in Turin, Italy. "Cabiria" directed by Giovane Patrone. It was believed to be the first full length movie ever until the discovery of a 1912 version of Quo Vadis. D.W. Griffith’s 1915 classic the Birth of a Nation popularized the 120 minute format for feature films.

1923- Yankee Stadium dedicated. Yankees win the opener against Boston, 4-1 in front of over 72,000 fans, Babe Ruth hit the park's first home run. The new $2.5 million ballpark is the first to feature three decks. This Yankee Stadium was replaced in 2009.

1934- The first automatic Laundromat opened in Ft. Worth Texas.

1938- Switzerland closed its’ borders to all Jews and asked the Nazi government to cooperate with them. The Swiss government never admitted this until 1995.

1942- The DOOLITTLE RAID. Gen. Jimmie Doolittle led 16 B-25s to fly long distance and drop bombs on Tokyo. It was a desperate mission. They did it knowing they didn't have enough fuel to return to the carrier USS Hornet, so they continued on to China and took their chances where they landed. Some of the men shot down and captured were hanged or beheaded by irate Japanese. The raid was had no strategic value and did little damage, but after weeks of unbroken Japanese success the American public needed a morale booster. General Doolittle survived the war and lived to be 97, dying in 1993.

1943- The Second Uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto.

1945- The German army surrounded in the Ruhr Pocket surrendered. 350,000 went into prison camps. Conscious that it was probably their last battle in Europe, the Americans called it Operation Kaput. The same day British Prime Minister Churchill ordered Field Marshal Montgomery’s army to stop racing to Berlin and turn north towards Lubeck on the Baltic. "There is no reason for the our friends the Russians to occupy Denmark, and our presence at Lubeck would save a lot of argument later on."

1945- Famed journalist Ernie Pyle is killed by Japanese machine gun fire during the fighting at Okinawa.

1955- Scientist Albert Einstein died in Princeton New Jersey at 75. As he fell in and out of a coma his last words were in German. Since no one around his bed could understand German, we don't know what his last words were.

1958- A U.S. court ruled that poet Ezra Pound no longer had to stay at a Washington D.C. mental hospital for the criminally insane. The Idaho born Pound had moved to Italy in the 1920s and became an ardent supported of Fascists like Mussolini. He felt artists thrive under strongman rule. Gertrude Stein couldn’t stand him because of his open Anti-Semitism. When World War II ended he was arrested for treason and sent to this mental hospital. After his release after 13 years incarceration he returned to Italy and died in 1972.

1958- At the Los Angeles Coliseum in front of a crowd of 78,672, the Dodgers play their first game in the City of Angels defeating the new San Francisco Giants, 6-5.

1980- The white minority dominated African nation of Rhodesia transitioned into the black majority nation named Zimbabwe and elected rebel leader Robert Mugabe as it’s first and so far only president.

1983- The Disney Channel went on the air.

1994- Disney’s first theatrical musical Beauty and the Beast A New Musical, opened on Broadway.

2000- Earlier that spring some of the worlds biggest internet companies –e-Bay, Amazon and CNN were paralyzed by a virus spreading hacker. Today the FBI made an arrest. The culprit was a Canadian High School student who went by the domain name of Mafia Boy. He received probation and a promise to only use his computer for schoolwork for two years.

2008- Pope Benedict XVI visited the U.S.. When he gave an address at the White House, President George W. Bush went up to him and said:” Your Holiness, that speech was AWESOME!”
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Yesterday’s Quiz: What does it mean to be idiosyncratic?

Answer: unusual, unconventional or uniquely eccentric behavior of an individual.


April 17, 2015 fri
April 17th, 2015

Quiz: What does it mean to be idiosyncratic?

Yesterday¹s Question: Who was called “ The greatest second-rate composer in history”…?
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History for 4/17/2015
Birthdays: artist Tobias Stummer-1539, Duke Maximillian Ist of Bavaria- leader of the Catholic League 1579, Nikita Khruschev, Thorton Wilder, Clarence Darrow, Arthur Schnabel, Olivia Hussey is 64, Gregor Piatigorsky, Don Kirschner, William Holden, Harry Reasoner, Boomer Eiseason, Sean Bean is 56, Victoria Beckham, Ron Miller, Jennifer Garner is 43, Rooney Mara is 30.

161 AD- Today is the Feast of Saint Anicteus, who may have died a martyr's death in the reign of the Roman Emperor Antoninus, but more likely he was simply worn out over the argument about when exactly should Easter take place.

1421- Dort Dyke, one of the largest water barriers in Holland, ruptured and the ensuing flood killed thousands.

1492- After 8 years of interviews, waiting in antechambers and being laughed at and called crazy, King Ferdinand of Spain finally signed a commission for Christopher Columbus to outfit a fleet and sail west across the Atlantic to find Asia. Ferdinand gave him a diplomatic letter for the Great Khan of Cathay- now called China. The legend of Queen Isabella pawning her jewels to give him money didn¹t happen. She suggested doing so, only to embarrass the crowns financial minister to accelerate Columbus’ funding.

1521-THE CONFESSION OF WORMS- German Emperor Charles V called Protestant reformer Martin Luther to come to the Imperial Diet at the city of Worms and explain his criticism of the Catholic Church. Ordered by the Papal Legate and the Emperor to renounce his heretical views, Luther defied them all." Here I stand, I can do no other, God help me."

What makes this historically momentous is for the first time a common man stood before the Church, The Emperor and the assembled Princes of Europe and said "No. I won¹t obey". And he got away with it. The news ran like wildfire through Germany. That night someone hung on the council doors a placard with a farmer¹s shoe painted on it- the German traditional symbol of revolt.

1524- A French expedition led by Italian navigator Giuseppe De Verrasano sailed into New York Harbor. He thought it was a lake. Verrazano claimed the lands for France but upon returning home found the French King too busy with his wars in Germany and Italy to bother with discoveries in the distant New World. Verrazano was later eaten by cannibals in the Caribbean. The big harbor was forgotten until Henry Hudson with the Dutch came upon it 80 years later.
This is probably good in the long run because then New York Harbor would have been called the Bay of Anghouleme, and Manhattan the Isle deValois. Newport Connecticut he called “Refugio”. The Verrazano Narrows Bridge now spans the waters named for him.

1525-THE MASSACRE OF WEINSBURG- Count Ludwig von Helfenshein was a German lord hated by his people for his cruel severity. This day the Great German Peasant Revolt army reached the walls of his castle at Weinsburg near Heilbronn. A small group under a flag of truce asked for a parley. Count Ludwig’s knights slew them.

So the peasant army with enthusiastic help from the townspeople stormed the town and captured the Count. Now he begged for his life and offered his entire fortune as ransom. But the peasants only wanted revenge. They made Count Helfensheim run a gauntlet of peasants armed with knives, pitchforks and axes. As they chopped away at him they added their curses" You killed my father! You imprisoned my brother for not taking off his hat as you rode by!" etc. Then they slaughtered all the other nobles.

1534- Sir Thomas Moore the Chancellor of England was ordered to the Tower of London by his King Henry VIII.

1656- Battle of Warka- Poles under Hetman Czarniecki defeated the Hungarians under Georgi Rackoszy.

1792- British Captain Vancouver explored Puget Sound. He founds a settlement and names it for then Prime Minister Granville. In 1886 Granville (sometimes called Gastown after Gassy-Jack the saloon keeper) was renamed Vancouver.

1770- At a dinner party in Versailles, Madame Necker the wife of France¹s first minister, suggested a subscription be held for the great artist Pigalle to make a statue of old philosopher Francois Voltaire. Rousseau and King Frederick the Great of Prussia donated money. The bust of the smiling old cynic became one of the well known images of the XVIII Century.

1793-The Battle of Warsaw- American Revolution hero Thaddeus Kozciuszko tried unsuccessfully to defend the Polish capitol from Catherine the Great’s Russian army led by Marshal Suvarov.

1800- The Senate passed a bill for the moving of the U.S. government from Philadelphia to the new Federal City, being called Washington D.C.

1808- Napoleon ordered US ships trading with England seized when entering French harbors.

1839- The Republic of Guatemala declared.

1861- The State of Virginia voted to secede from the United States and join the rebel Confederacy. Virginia, The largest and most populous Southern State had wavered undecided and in a preliminary vote had voted 2-1 not to leave. But the violence at Fort Sumter and Lincoln's call for troops to put down rebellion made her decide to join her Southern brethren. Abe Lincoln now could see out of his White House office window a Confederate flag flapping in the breeze across the Potomac at Alexandria.

1865- In Washington DC At ten o¹clock in the evening Federal agents show up at Mary Surrat¹s Boarding House and arrest the remaining conspirators in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln: George Atzenrodt, Lewis Paine and Mrs Surrat. Their leader John Wilkes Booth with David Herold were on the run in the back country of Virginia. The four mentioned were hanged and a dozen others implicated were given prison sentences. But historians disagree about how extensive the conspiracy was. As Lewis Paine said when he was captured:" You don¹t know the half of it!" perhaps we never will.

1869- The first professional baseball game ever played sees the Cincinnati Reds defeat the rival Cincinnati Amateurs, 24-15

1875- The billiard game Snooker was invented by Sir Joseph Chamberlain, the uncle of the future British Prime Minister.

1924- Metro Pictures, Goldwyn and Mayer Films all merged to become Metro-Goldwyn- Mayer. By 1940 MGM was the largest studio in Hollywood.

1929- Baseball great Babe Ruth married Ziegfeld Follies dancer Marge Colson in a morning ceremony. Then he drove to Yankee Stadium and hit a home run.

1937 "Porky's Duck Hunt" The birth of Daffy Duck. One legendary story is that newly hired voice actor Mel Blanc in part designed Daffys distinctive lisp to be an impression of the Looney Tunes boss Leon Schlensinger. When they screened this cartoon all the artists stood in dread of how Leon would take the joke. Leon never made the connection that the Ducks voice was an imitation of him:" Gee Fellers, dat Duck iz pretty Ffffunny!"

1941-Yugoslavia surrendered to the Nazis. Serb guerillas rallied in the mountains and continued to fight under Josef Broz Tito.

1945- As Allied armies overran Germany a massed raid of American bombers destroyed 752 German planes on the ground. This was all that was left of the Luftwaffe, once the world¹s largest air force.
At the same time Field Marshal Walter Model, who had been directing much of the German army operations in the west since Normandy, was sitting in a forest listening to Propaganda Chief Goebbels on the radio tell the German people that everything was going well. “ I’ve sacrificed my life to those bastards!” Model sighed. He then drew his pistol, put it in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

1946- Syrian Independence Day. The last French colonial troops leave Damascus.

1960- Cleveland Indians traded Rocky Colavito to the Detroit Tigers.

1961-THE BAY OF PIGS INVASION-.The US CIA started landing 1,400 anti-Castro Cuban fighters in La Bahia de los Cochinos. When John Kennedy became president he was shown a CIA plan that had been developed to land anti-Castro guerrillas in Cuba. Once there they would start a popular uprising to overthrow the bearded cigar smoking commie. Kennedy went along with the plan, it failed and he looked stupid to the rest of the world.

1964-The Ford Mustang introduced by Lee Iacocca.

1971- The song "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night tops the pop charts .

1975- The Khmer Rouge entered Pnom Penh, the Cambodian War ends. The Khmer Rouge led by a junta with Premier Pol Pot at it's head declare it to be Year Zero and began emptying the city people into the countryside. The holocaust known as Killing Fields began and when it was finally ended by a Vietnamese invasion a few years later almost one third of Cambodia's population had been murdered or driven into exile.

1987- Comedian Dick Shawn ­the Hippy-Hitler in the original Mel Brooks film the Producers- was doing his one-man show The Second Funniest Man in the World at UC San Diego. After one particularly funny punch line he fell over dead from a heart attack. The audience roared for several more minutes at him lying there face down because they thought it was part of the act.

1989-The Polish Government removes the ban on the Solidarity trade union. During the attempts to round up and imprison the ringleaders of the movement, one Zomo (secret police) got so close he had collared a man who leaped out of his jacket to escape. Later the same cop and dissident found themselves across a table discussing government powersharing. The cop nonchalantly mentioned:" Oh, by the way, here is your coat."

2011- The first season of Game of Thrones premiered in the U.S. on HBO.
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Yesterday’s Question: Who was called “ The greatest second-rate composer in history”…?

Answer: Camille Saint-Saens. He once heard a popular conductor had called him that. He said he agreed.


April 16, 2015 thur
April 16th, 2015

Quiz: Who was called “ The greatest second-rate composer in history”…?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: Who said “ power is the best aphrodisiac” ?
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History for 4/16/2015
birthdays: King John II “The good” of France (1319), Elisabeth Vignee-Lebrun, Wilbur Wright, Charlie Chaplin, J.P. Morgan, Kingsley Amis, Anatole France, Henry Mancini, Peter Ustinov, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bobby Vinton, Spike Milligan, John Halas, Edie Adams, Hans Sloane*, Disney artist Victor Haboush, Martin Lawrence is 50, John Cryer is 50, Ellen Barkin is 61, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is 88.

*Sir Hans Sloane was the chemist to Queen Anne of England circa 1700. He pioneered pharmacy, left his artifact collection to be the basis of the British Museum and produced an early recipe for milk chocolate. Sloane Square in London was named for him. The British name for Yuppies was Sloane Rangers, not for Sloane himself but for all the chic shops on Sloane Square.

1260- Chartres Cathedral completed. Art history teachers rejoice!

1632- Battle of the Lech River- in the Thirty Years War the Protestant army under Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus defeated the Catholics under Johan Von Tilly. The 74 year old mercenary general Tilly, his hip smashed by a cannon ball, died soon after.

1746- BATTLE OF CULLODEN- The last pitched battle fought on British soil. British armies under the Duke of Cumberland crushed the Scottish Highlanders raised by Prince Charles Stuart. It is considered the last gasp of Scottish independence although “Bonnie” Prince Charlie’s goal was not an independent Scotland but recapturing the English throne for his deposed family.

Historians harp on what a forlorn hope it was to conquer the mighty British Empire but truth be told the Highland Army got pretty far pretty easy, down into England as far as Derby before falling back into Scotland. With the majority of the British army running around North America, Gibraltar and India there were fewer than 15,000 redcoats to defend the homeland. But the initial surprise was lost as most of the Highland Chieftains spent most of the time arguing and paid their troops with Oatmeal.

Bonnie Prince Charlie made a daring escape across the moors and fens that has been much romanticized, truth was he was a depressed wife beating alcoholic who got soused soon after the battle. He was staying at the house of a fence-sitting Scottish laird when they could hear the tromp of pursuing English cavalry in the courtyard below. The Laird had to pry the wine bowl from Charlie’s fingers to get him to leave. In Edinburgh Castle today you can see the bowl on display, with two chipped pieces where the prince’s thumbs were holding the bowl as it was yanked away. The vengeful British banned for a time the clan system, tartans, bagpipes and the Gaelic language for decades.

1787- What some consider the first professionally produced American play- Royall Tyler’s the Contrast- debuted at New York City’s John Street Theater. It was a comedy that poked fun at aristocracy. Gen. George Washington was in the audience. At this time the Broadway theater district and Times Square was a quiet forest clearing.

1828- Spanish artist Francisco Goya died at 82 in Bordeaux, France. Years later when his remains were moved to Madrid it was discovered Goya wasn't alone in his grave. His friend Martin Goesochea's remains were in with him. Maybe there was a two-for-one sale..

1862- Union Admiral David Dixon Porter's fleet of ironclad warships run past the batteries of Vicksburg ferrying Grant and his army to the town of Hard Times. One of the cannon thundering at Porter was the famous Rebel 18 pounder "Whistlin' Dick". It was so named because the rifling of it's barrel gave it's shells an erratic spin and recognizable whistle.

1865- Confederate leader Robert E. Lee had surrendered his army to Grant and had returned as a private citizen to his Richmond brownstone. This day a scout from Mosby’s Raiders slipped into his home and asked Lee if they should keep fighting guerrilla style. Lee told him. “Tell General Mosby and his command to be good boys and go on home”

1874- AMERICA'S CANNIBAL, Gold prospector Albert Packer went up into the Colorado Rockies with several friends to look for gold. They were stranded by blizzard conditions and reduced to eating their moccasins for food.

On this day Packer, the only survivor, came down to civilization and admitted under examination that he and his friends resorted to cannibalism to survive. Upon further questioning Packer admitted he didn't always wait for his friends to die, he'd hatchet them in the head as they slept then fricassee them. Packer became the only American ever convicted of cannibalism and the University of Colorado Student Grill is named in his honor.

1905- Andrew Carnegie established the Carnegie Foundation to distribute his philanthropy. The former Scottish orphan coal miner Carnegie renounced his robber baron career and dedicated himself to donating the bulk of his fortune to building libraries and hospitals. He claimed: “A man who dies rich dies disgraced!” Mark Twain wrote him satirical letters “To Saint Andrew from Saint Mark”

1912- Harriet Quimby became the first woman to fly the English Channel.

1926- The Book-Of-The-Month-Club distributed it’s first selection-Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner.

1935- Fibber McGee and Molly debut on radio.

1943- BICYCLE DAY-In Basil Switzerland chemist Dr. Albert Hoffman discovered the hallucinogenic properties of LSD. He had become very interested in the relationship between ergot (wheat rust), and had done a great deal of research about the Oracle at Delphi. He had synthesized LSD in 1938 but couldn't figure out what to do with it. However, when he made up the drug the second time, he probably inhaled enough from it to start hallucinating. Since he had already tried mescaline, he had a pretty good idea of what was happening to him, so he closed up his lab, got on his bicycle and pedaled home to Binnigen, a suburb on the southern edge of Baselstadt, a trip of four or five miles, hallucinating all the way.

The next day he went back to the lab and made up a dose of LSD the size of a reasonable dose of mescaline, without realizing that that amounted to a tenfold overdose of LSD. Twenty minutes later he said 'Oh oh,' got on his bike and pedaled back to Binnigen. A scientist reader to this site added this: I believe the first hope for LSD was that it would produce an 'experimental psychosis,' which would allow scientists to study schizophrenia in otherwise 'normal' patients or subjects.

1940- On Baseball Season’s opening day President Franklin D. Roosevelt's ceremonial first pitch smashed a Washington Post camera. The Chief Executive was not charged with a wild pitch. Red Sox hurler Lefty Grove blanked the Washington Senators, 1-0.

1946-The Brothers Chevrolet- Louis and Arthur Chevrolet were Louisiana race car drivers at the beginning of the 20th Century who were invited by General Motors to design a line of high performance vehicles. But their business skills were never as good as their engineering abilities. After a number of bad deals, cheated opportunities and hard luck Louis died a common mechanic on his own Chevrolet assembly line. This day Arthur Chevrolet broke and alone, committed suicide.

1947- The Zoom Lens patented.

1952- THE NUNIVAK INCIDENT AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE COMPUTER – American coastal air defenses had been neglected since the end of WWII. But by 1952 the Cold War raised tensions, and we knew the Soviets had nuclear bombers capable of reaching the US mainland. This night, a radar station at Nunivak Alaska and another at Presque Isle Maine both reported flights of unidentified aircraft headed towards the U.S.. They turned out to be false alarms, but the reports of the planes took four hours to reach Washington! The resultant scandal in Strategic Air Command resulted in the rapid building up of a new early warning system. This fostered the birth of the SAGE computer systems, inventing the computer screen, the keyboard and stylus.

1953-PORK CHOP HILL- In the Korean War, today marked the heaviest Red Chinese assaults to retake Hill 255, because of its shape called Pork Chop Hill. This hill had very little strategic value, but the Chinese and UN forces placed great symbolic meaning to it as a test of strength. Pork Chop Hill was battled over from June 1952 practically until the Peace Treaty of Panmunjom in mid 1953.

1959- John McCarthy of MIT invented the computer language LISP.

1962- Walter Cronkite took over the job of anchor at the CBS Evening News, building a reputation for journalistic integrity almost equaled to Edward R. Murrow. Nicknamed the Most Trusted Man in America, many credit Cronkite for breaking the news to America that the U.S. was not going to win the Vietnam War. President Lyndon Johnson said: If I lost Cronkite then I’ve lost middle America.” When Cronkite retired, the redoubtable CBS News Division descent into tabloid stupidity and irrelevance began.

1983- Disney Channel debuted.
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Yesterday’s Question answered below: Who said “ power is the best aphrodisiac” ?

Answer: Dr. Henry Kissinger.


April 15, 2015 weds
April 15th, 2015

Quiz: Who said “ power is the best aphrodisiac” ?

Yesterday’s Quiz answered below: In classical music they speak of The Three B’s. Bach, Beethoven, and who..?
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History for 4/15/2015
Birthdays: Leonardo DaVinci, composer Domenico Gabrieli, Nanak I the guru of the Sikh religion 1469, Charles Wilson Peale, Theodore Rousseau, Henry James, Bessie Smith, Heinrich Klee, Kim Il Sung, Claudia Cardinale is 77, Roy Clark, Emma Thompson is 56, Olympic runner Evelyn Ashford, Alice Braga is 31, Seth Rogen is 33 Emma Watson is 25, Animation art director Lou Romano

Fordicidia-Ancient Roman Festival where 31 pregnant cows are sacrificed in honor of Tellus, the Earth-Mother.

Happy St. Matthews Day, the patron saint of tax-collectors.

1632- Battle of the Lech River. round one of Protestant Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus vs. Catholic Imperial Duke Albrecht Wallenstein in the Thirty Years War.

1729- The Saint Matthew’s Passion oratorio by Johann Sebastian Bach was first sung at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig.

1738-The Bottle Opener invented.

1755- Dr. Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language first published. Dr. Johnson first created the system of listing a word’s phonetic pronunciation, ancient roots and how to use the word in a sentence. The excellence of Dr. Johnson’s dictionary made him the virtual dictator of English writing in his time.
Dr. Johnson allowed a bit of personal pique into his lexicographical prima non pares. He was annoyed that Lord Chesterfield pledged to finance his effort, but only sent a check for a measly ten pounds. When the book was a success his lordship claimed credit as Johnson’s benefactor. Dr. Johnson defined the word “Patron”- One who contributes Indolence, and pays in Flattery.”

1797-The Great Spithead Mutiney- Never mind the Bounty, here the whole blinking British Fleet mutinied against harsh conditions like flogging, press gangs and having to say “Arr-Mateys”in a silly voice whenever appropriate. Flogging was never officially prohibited in the British Navy, it just died out in the 1870's.

1822- The Captain Henry Expedition set off. Andrew Henry got together a team of mountain men including Jedediah Smith and Jim Bridger and went off in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark to the source of the Missouri River 2500 miles into Montana. They tried to drag a small ship on wheels along with them but wound up abandoning it. The story was dramatized in the 1970’s Richard Harris film” Man in the Wilderness”.

1839- Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg are betrothed to be married. Actually it was Victoria who proposed to Albert, it was unseemly to speak to a queen otherwise. Victoria and Albert had been intended by political arrangement since they were 13, but they fell in love, which was considered quite unusual.

1850- The townships of Yerba Buena- Good Herbs, incorporated as the City of San Francisco.

1861- LINCOLN’S EDICT- In reaction to the attack by Confederate rebels on Fort Sumter President Lincoln declares the ten southern states in an open state of rebellion and calls for troops. Legally the Constitution did allow for the Southern States to secede and Lincoln couldn't get a declaration of war from a half empty Congress, so he found an obscure 1792 law that allowed the President to call up state militias without requiring a declaration of war. He enlists 75,000 men.
Many regular army lieutenants and captains resigned from the national service so they could become generals and colonels in the militia. Even poor drunks like Ulysses Grant could get a captain's job from his local Ohio regiment. Frontier states were emptied of regular army men, forts like Tejon California abandoned because of lack of troops.

1865-LINCOLN DIED- After being shot at Ford's theater Abraham Lincoln finally expired at 7:08 am during a rainstorm. He had lingered all night without ever regaining consciousness. Mary Lincoln went into hysterics and had to be dragged from the room. She never entered the White House again. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton had the White House sealed up under guard for two months until Vice President Andrew Johnson got up enough nerve to move in.
In North Carolina General Sherman was putting the finishing touches on the surrender negotiations for the army of Joe Johnston, the largest remaining Confederate army in the field after Robert E. Lee's. When Sherman received the news of the murder he passed the telegram to Johnston, who grew pale. They both agreed to suppress the news from their armies for several days so revenge fighting wouldn't break out. In far away Los Angeles the Los Angeles Star newspaper reported U.S. troops had to stop the locals from celebrating the news of the assassination. Many were Southerners who had fled west when it looked like the Confederacy would lose the war.

1871- Wild Bill Hickok became sheriff of Abilene Kansas, then a wild boom town filled with drunk cowboys and yahoos.

1874- The first Paris show of Impressionist Painting.

1912- The Titanic sank by 2:20AM. At 4:30 AM, The S.S Carpathia finally reached the Titanic disaster site to rescue 705 survivors in the bobbing lifeboats. The Titanic death toll is now estimated at around 1,522 out of 2200. Early reports of the disaster mentioned that the Titanic had struck an iceberg but that all was well. This day's Wall Street Journal noted the incident "proved a triumph of modern technology!"

1924- The Rand McNally Company published the first automobile road atlas or North America.

1925- Ford introduced the first Model-T Pickup truck. Up to now farmers had cut the backs off cars and welded boxes on to make a light-load vehicle. There was also an earlier pickup truck called the International, but it had limited distribution.

1927- First Hollywood star's footprints in cement ceremony at Grauman's Chinese theater. Called Hollywood's most enduring publicity stunt. Norma Talmadge, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Sid Grauman himself are the first to leave their prints. Grauman also invented the classic Hollywood premiere with spotlights, red carpet runways and chauffeured limousines.

1934- Chief of production Darryl F. Zanuck quit Warner Bros. over an argument about employee salary cuts, to take over a struggling little movie studio called Twentieth Century Fox, which he turned into a giant.

1935-Kodachrome film developed. First as motion picture film, later for home photography.

1940- Franklin Roosevelt covertly gave permission for American volunteer pilots to join General Claire Chennault in fighting the Japanese invasion of China as part of a foreign corps serving in the Chinese air force. The Flying Tigers are born.

1945- Eva Braun left the comparative safety of Munich and traveled to Berlin to be with Hitler in his bunker. She told a friend. ”A Germany without Adolf Hitler would not be fit to live in.”

1947- Jackie Robinson takes the field with the Brooklyn Dodgers. First black player to join the Major Leagues. Up until then the Brooklyn Dodgers in their history had never won more than 2 pennants. After Robinson and Campanella and other Negro league players were added they won 6 in 7 years and a World Series. At one game after a particularly nasty barrage of boos and catcalls from the crowd Dodger stars Duke Snyder and Pee Wee Reese went over and publicly put their arms around Robinson in front of the crowd..

1951- General MacArthur prepared to leave Japan after being sacked by President Truman. The Japanese adored their American Shogun who helped reform their society from postwar chaos. Even though he left his offices in the Daiichi Building for his plane at 6:00AM, the crowds to see him off were already ten deep. One unintentional bit of fun for the Americans was a large misspelled banner from a Japanese well wisher about MacArthur’s potential presidential run: “GOOD LUCK FOR YOUR UPCOMING ERECTION.” ( William Manchester American Caesar, Chapter 10)

1952- The Franklin Savings Bank issued the first credit card in the U.S.

1953- Famed illustrator Charles R. Knight died peacefully in a Manhattan hospital. The man who inspired the lush look of such films as 1933 King Kong, his last words were to his daughter Lucy, “Don’t let anything happen to my drawings.”

1955- The First McDonald's Restaurant franchise opens in Des Plains, Ill. Ray Kroc, a travelling milkshake machine salesman, buys into a franchise restaurant idea cooked up in 1948 by two brothers named McDonald from Santa Bernadino. He urged the brothers to go national with their pre-prepared food system but the brothers wanted to stay local. So he offered them 1 million bucks for their idea and name (would you go to" Kroc's?") and the rest is history. The oldest surviving McDonald’s from 1953 in Downey California was recently destroyed despite the efforts of historians, and replaced with a plastic plaque.

1961- 48 hours before the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Fidel Castro told the world his Cuban Revolution was Communist and he asked the Soviet Union and Red China for aid. He also ordered the arrest of 20,000 enemies of his regime.
Since taking power in 1959 Castro had been cagey about the nature of his politics, but he used hatred of the Yankee Imperialistas as a strong national unifier. When he visited the US for the opening of the United Nations he was snubbed by most of the State Department except a 20 minute meeting with Vice President Nixon. Still, he tried to stay non-aligned until he knew the CIA was readying a coup against him. Fidel aka “The Beard” has since stayed in the Communist camp and outlasted ten US presidents.

1962-AUNTIE EM, AUNTIE EM! actress Clara Blandick, 80, the Auntie Em of the Wizard of Oz, took an overdose of sleeping pills and tied a plastic bag around her head. She left out on a table her resume and press clippings so the newspapers would get her obituary right.

1964- Walt Disney sent attorney Robert Foster to Orlando Florida to quietly start buying up land for a planned new Disneyland Park.

1974- A surveillance camera picks up Heiress Patricia Hearst , now called Tanya, robbing a San Francisco bank with other members of the Symbionese Liberation Army, the group that kidnapped her.

1983- Tokyo Disneyland opens.

1989- Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yao Bang died. His funeral gathered mass rallies of pro-democracy students and workers that culminated in the Tien ah Mehn Square Movement.

1990- Kennan Ivory Wayans comedy show In Living Color premiered on FOX TV. The show made stars of Marlon Wayans, Damon Wayans, Jamie Fox, Jim Carrey and Fly-Girls Jennifer Lopez and Rosie Perez.

1994- English ice skater John Curry who created the concept of Ice Dancing, died of HIV/AIDS at 44.

2013- Two Cheychen brothers Tamerlan and Dzokhar Tsarnaev exploded two bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing 3 and injuring 120.
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Yesterday’s Quiz: In classical music they speak of The Three B’s. Bach, Beethoven, and who..?

Answer: Brahms.


April 14, 2015
April 14th, 2015

Quiz: In classical music they speak of The Three B’s. Bach, Beethoven, and who..?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: If people knew you as an “ecdysiast”, what was it they expected you to do?
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History for 4/14/2015
Birthdays: King Phillip III of Spain, Christian Huygens, Arnold Toynbee, Sir John Gielgud, Menachem Schneerson- the Grand Rabbi of Chabad, Papa Doc Duvalier- Haitian dictator 1907, Robert Doisneau, Rod Steiger, Loretta Lynn, Morton Sobotnick, Frank Serpico, Pete Rose, Julie Christie, Kenneth Mars, Anthony Michael Hall, Steve Martin is 65, Sarah Michelle Geller is 38, Adrien Brody is 42.

69AD- Battle of Bedriacum- After the death of Nero, several Roman generals turned their legions around and marched to Rome to try their luck. In this battle Otho was offed by the Gaulsh Legions of Aulus Vitellius. He would soon be aced by Vespasian and Titus.

73-A.D. MASADA- After the great Jewish revolt against Rome was crushed by Titus and Jerusalem destroyed, two legions remained behind to do mopping up of guerrillas. A group of zealots, Essene rabbis and their families held out in a mountaintop stronghold for two years in an epic siege.
The night before the Zealots realized the Roman siege engines were about to breach the walls. They resolved to not be taken alive. This day soldiers of the Tenth Legion Felix broke into the quiet works. They found 960 corpses. The zealots had preferred mass suicide to slavery.
Contrary to modern sensibilities the Romans were not horrified by the ghastly scene, Greco-Roman ethics considered suicide a rational way out of a bad situation, it’s what the Romans would have done in similar circumstances. They expressed grudging admiration of their Jewish foes. The fortress was rediscovered in 1947.

1471- Battle of Barnet- battle in the English War of the Roses in which power player Warwick the Kingmaker was killed by King Edward IV.

1543- Explorer Bartolomeo Ferrelo returned to Spain with news of a big new harbor he discovered on the Pacific coast of California that he named for his patron Saint Francis- San Francisco Bay.

1777- During the American Revolution, British loyalist counterfeiters with a printing press on board the HMS Phoenix stationed in New York Harbor, began to make phony Continental money to undermine the Yankee economy. The Continental became so worthless that “Not worth a Continental” was a favorite phrase.

1828- The first edition of Noah Webster’s Dictionary published. In the 70.000 entries Webster made it a point to separate American English from the King’s English, and substituted Spanish roots for words in the place of Norman French roots. This is when “Colour” became “Color”, Theatre became Theater, and Checque became Check.

1865- ABRAHAM LINCOLN ASSASSINATED- Well known actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth shot the President in the back of the head as he watched the play "Our American Cousin". Lincoln had seen the play several times and knew most of the lines by heart. Booth leapt onto the stage and shouting something. It may have been” Sic Semper Tyrannus-And thus with Tyrants” the motto of the State of Virginia, or “The South is Avenged”. No one is completely sure.

That same night Booths accomplice Lewis Paine, stabbed Secretary of State William Seward in his bed. When Seward’s son tried to stop him Paine broke his skull and ran out into the street shouting "I am Mad!" Another man named George Atzenrodt was supposed to kill the Vice President but he lost his nerve and did nothing.

In the box with the Lincolns were a Major Henry Rathbone and his fiance' Miss Clara Harris. Lincoln had asked General & Mrs. Grant to join them at first but the Grant's declined. Nellie Grant didn’t like Mary Lincoln. Anyhow, to Clara Harris this was a pretty lousy first date, watching the president get a bullet in the brain, her dress splattered with Major Rathbone's blood from being slashed by Booth and seeing Mrs. Lincoln go insane, but she married Rathbone anyway. Rathbone was never the same man. Ten years later while living as ambassador to the German city of Hanover, Rathbone murdered Clara, and was confined in an asylum for the criminally insane.

1871- Canada set it’s currency in dollars, cents and mills.

1883- Leopold Delibes’ opera Lakme premiered in Paris.

1906- The Azusa Street Church opened. Rev William Seymour began the first Pentacostal-Charismatic Church, a movement that spread around the world.

1912-RMS TITANIC SINKS- At 11:40PM The unsinkable luxury liner going too fast and 14 miles off course strikes an iceberg and goes down, taking millionaires and immigrants alike. As the stricken liner sank, the cruiser SS Californian watched a short distance away. They could have saved more people but their radio man had gone to bed and they thought the emergency flares lighting up the night sky were party skyrockets. No one was saved until the SS Carpathia arrived on the scene at dawn.

A strange fact is in 1898 a writer named Morgan Robertson wrote a novel called Futility, in which an 880 ft luxury liner sank on her maiden voyage in the month of April. The fictitious ship was named the Titan.

1914-At a baseball game in Washington William Howard Taft becomes the first President to throw out the season's first ball.

1925- WGN broadcasts its first regular season baseball game. Quinn Ryan behind the mike as Grover Cleveland Alexander and the Cubs defeated the Pirates on Opening Day, 8-2.

1927- The first Volvo automobile rolled off the assembly line in Goteborg Sweden.

1930- Russian poet Vladimir Mayakowsky shot himself. This was convenient for Stalin because Mayakowsky had grown disillusioned with the Soviet regime. Stalin made a great public spectacle of his funeral.

1931- In Spain Socialists and Anarchists unite to drive out the King Alphonso XIII and the monarchy and proclaim the Second Spanish Republic. Salud Republica!

1935- THE DUST BOWL - The drought conditions and over farming in the plains states had been building for years but this storm climaxed the decade long event. On this day a big dust storm struck Cimarron County Oklahoma. It blacked out the sun over five states. Cattle choked, calves and children disappeared in the drifts. Not even weeds would grow in it. The dust got through cracks in houses and when you awoke in the morning the only clean spot on your pillow was where your head lay.
After this storm the migration of farmers rose until the estimate was 40% of the populations of the drought stricken areas. People from Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, Texas and Missouri piled their worldly goods onto their jalopies and got on Route 66 West to California. They were nicknamed 'the Oakies, and their plight was dramatized in the songs of Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck's novel The Grapes of Wrath.

1956- In Redwood City, Cal. Charles Ginsburg, Ray Dolby and Charles Anderson demonstrated the first videotape recording machine. They were going then for a mere $75,000 each.

1960- The musical Bye Bye Birdie opened on Broadway.

1962- Bob Dylan recorded “Blowing in the Wind”.

1963- Beatle George Harrison was impressed by an unsigned rock band he just heard called the Rolling Stones.

1969- The first regular season baseball game played outside the United States. The Montreal Expos play their first home game, treating 29,184 fans at Jarry Park to an 8-7 win over the St Louis Cardinals. Speaking about Expo fans, Cub announcer Harry Carrey noted: "They discovered 'boo' is pronounced the same in French as it is English.”

1986- President Reagan ordered U.S. military places bomb Libya in retaliation for a terrorist bombing in a nightclub in West Germany. 15 civilians were killed including a son of Libyan President Mohammar Kaddafi. .

2005- Baseball returned to Washington D.C..34 years after the Washington Senators left to Texas, the Washington Nationals played their first game.

2008- Ollie Johnston, the last animator of Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men, passed away at age 96.
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Yesterday’s Question: If people knew you as an “ecdysiast”, what was it they expected you to do?

Answer: Take your clothes off and pole dance. An ecdysiast is a fancy word for stripper.


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