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Jan 31, 2016
January 31st, 2016

Quiz: Diogenes was a Cynic, a Peripatetic, a Catonian or an Epicurian?

Yesterday’s quiz answered below: The guy who heads ISIS calls himself a Caliph. What is a Caliph? Why aren’t they around any more?
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History for 1/31/2016
Birthdays: Gouverner Morris, Zane Grey, James G. Blaine, Franz Schubert, Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu, Sir John Profumo, Phillip Glass, Johnny Rotten, Ernie Banks, Norman Mailer, Nolan Ryan, Susanne Pleshette, Anthony LaPaglia, Tallulah Bankhead, Jean Simmons, Justin Timberlake is 35, Portia DiRossi, Minnie Driver is 46, Carol Channing is 95.

Today in ancient Greece it is the festival of Hecate, Goddess of the Underworld.

Today is the Feast day of St. John Bosco, patron saint of Catholic Schools.

Happy National Dress up in a Gorilla Suit Day. First advocated by Don Martin, cartoonist for MAD Magazine.

1606- Sir Guy Fawkes cheated the executioner by leaping off the scaffold and breaking his neck. Fawkes was convicted of the Gunpowder Plot, trying to blow up King & Parliament.

1696- Dutch undertakers rose in revolt after the town of Amsterdam mandated reforms.

1795- Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton resigned his cabinet post to play presidential adviser behind the scenes. Hamilton helped develop the American economy on a sound basis, but his imperious demeanor offended many. The English job of Prime Minister evolved out of the Exchequer, so Hamilton hoped the Treasury job would make him the real power in government. Political heat as well as revelations Hamilton was diddling a married woman named Mrs Reynolds finally made it too hot for him to stay in office. Congress then set up the House Ways & Means Committee to ensure a Secretary of the Treasury never got that much power again.

1839- Englishman William Fox Talbot says Frenchman Louis Daguerre is full of pate' when he announces he had invented photography (1/7/39). Talbot declares HE invented it first. Actually a Belgian priest experimenting with capturing light on chemically treated glass or paper as early as 1817, Thomas Wedgewood in 1770 and Louis Niepce, with whom both Daguerre and Talbot were familiar. While the principles of capturing a shadow had been known for some time, no one had worked out how to fix the image so earlier attempts faded away in a few hours. Niepce' work predates both Talbot and Daguerre by about 10 years and constitute the earliest "photographic" images still extant. But Talbot and Daguerre are considered the fathers of Photography, provided you like history Anglais or a’ Francais.

1843-The first recorded minstrel show. The mode became so popular that even black performers were made to wear burnt-cork blackface makeup and white lips.

1865- Passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which outlawed slavery in the United States.

1876- The U.S. Congress ordered all remaining Indian tribes to move into reservations or be declared hostile.

1925- Scotch brand invisible tape introduced by the 3-M Company.

1933- The day after he assumed power, new Chancellor Adolf Hitler promised he would respect Parliamentary Democracy. Uh, huh….

1940- Mrs. Ida Mae Fuller of Ludlow Vermont received the first Social Security check- $22.50.

1943- End of the Battle of Stalingrad. Field Marshal Von Paulus came out of the bombed out basement of a department store and surrendered the shattered remains of his 6th Army. The highest ranking Nazi General to surrender until the wars end.

1945- Private Eddie Slovik becomes the only U.S. soldier in World War II to be shot by firing squad for desertion.

1950- THE H-BOMB - Despite the unanimous recommendation of the civilian Atomic Energy Commission that a "Super" or Hydrogen Bomb "would not be a weapon of war but an instrument of mass genocide," President Harry Truman announced to the world that the U.S. was going to build one anyway. Physicist. I. G. Rabi said he was shocked that Truman should have announced a bomb we still didn't yet know how we were going to build and accelerate the arms race. When Dr. Robert Oppenheimer protested, Truman called him a “sissy-scientist.” Secretary of State Dean Acheson groaned privately to a friend: “What a horrible world we’re living in.”

1954- Howard Armstrong, the inventor of FM Radio, driven to despair by constant lawsuits with RCA Corporation over his patents, jumped to his death out of a hotel window. He first put on his hat, overcoat and gloves because he didn't want to be cold...(?) Armstrong loved heights and used to climb hundreds of feet in the air to meditate on top of his radio antennas. By 1977 his family won all the lawsuits. Today, most radio, television and air traffic communications are by FM band.

1958- The U.S. enters the Space Race with the launching of satellite Explorer- 1.

1963- U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara declared to the press:” The War in Vietnam is going quite well…”

1968- TET- This day the North Vietnamese army combined with the Viet Cong guerrillas surprise attacked American Forces all over South Vietnam. Even the capitol Saigon and the American Embassy became battle zones. Despite an alert issued the night before, 200 US intelligence officers attended a pool party, and were as surprised as everyone else. Although all the Vietnamese attacks were defeated and the Viet Cong destroyed, the U.S. public was shocked that such an attack could happen from what they had been told all along was “ A defeated enemy” It was the turning point of the Vietnam War.
The military of course, blamed the media and asked for a bigger budget.

1968- The Seattle city council concluded that there was no legal means to curb hippies hanging out in the downtown U- District.

1974- Apollo 14 blasted off for the moon. This voyage is chiefly remembered for Alan Shepard playing golf on the lunar surface.

1978- Polish director Roman Polanski fled the U.S. for exile after being charged for having sex with a thirteen year old girl in Jack Nicholson’s house.

1989- Michael Jackson’s sister LaToya Jackson posed nude for Playboy.

1995- First Meeting of the WTO- World Trade Organization.

1999- The first episode of Seth McFarlane’s show Family Guy premiered.

2003- DOWNING STREET II- The Downing St. meeting minutes proved without a doubt that President Bush planned to invade Iraq after the 9-11 attack. In this days’ meeting between English Prime Minister Tony Blair and President George W. Bush, it was stated“ it is unlikely that the weapons inspectors will discover any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.” President Bush responded that it was too late to change the plans. They would start bombing Iraq by March 10th.
Downing 1 was made public in 2005 and Downing II, was not made public until 2009.
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Yesterday’s question: The guy who heads ISIS calls himself a Caliph. What is a Caliph? Why aren’t they around any more?

Answer: The title Caliph, or Defender of the Faith was a leader chosen to take over the spiritual and temporal leadership of the Prophet Mohammed. The Muslim Caliphate that once stretched from the Atlantic to the Himalayas sounds impressive, but it was never very united. Local leaders like the Moors of Spain, the Mamelukes of Egypt would routinely ignore the Caliph back in Baghdad.
Caliphs continued to lose influence until the Turkish sultans made them a powerless figurehead behind their throne. In 1924 first Turkish President Kemal Ataturk declared the Caliphate extinct.


January 30, 2016
January 30th, 2016

Quiz: The guy who heads ISIS calls himself a Caliph. What is a Caliph? Why aren’t they around any more?

Answer to yesterday’s question below: Russian President Vladimir Putin was once a KGB agent. Has a US President ever come from the CIA ?
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History for 1/30/2016
Birthdays: Barbara Tuchman, Walt “Moose” Dropo, Olaf Palme, Dick Martin, Louis S. Rukeyser, Dorothy Malone, Boris Spassky, John Ireland, Douglas Englebart, Phil Collins, Vanessa Redgrave is 79, Gene Hackman is 86, Christian Bale is 42, Former VP Dick Cheney is 76

1649- KING CHARLES I of ENGLAND BEHEADED-The Parliament, led by Oliver Cromwell condemns the King "That man of Blood" and abolished the English monarchy. As Charles laid his head upon the block he said:" I go from a corruptible crown to one which is Incorruptible." -Splat!
Cromwell’s government worried that if the identity of the headsman was ever found out avengers may harm his family. They kept the secret so well that his name for a time was lost to history. His name was Richard Brandon. In Alexander Dumas' sequel to “The Three Musketeers”, he makes the executioner to be the son of Madame DeWinter and the Duc de Rochefort.

1661-HAVE YOU SEEN OLIVER CROMWELL'S HEAD? English dictator General Oliver Cromwell died of natural causes in 1659. After the restoration of the British monarchy a mob celebrated by breaking into Cromwells’ tomb and bouncing the corpse around, taking the head and putting it on London Bridge where criminals are usually exhibited.
After the head fell off it's spike and rolled around on the ground, a priest took it home and sold it to a travelling circus. Eventually it was donated to Cambridge University, to whom Oliver Cromwell had been a benefactor. The college interred it but will not divulge where.

1790- Sir Malcom Greathead invented the lifeboat.

1835- THE FIRST PRESIDENTIAL ASSASINATION ATTEMPT –An unemployed house painter named Richard Lawrence who thought he was King Richard III, emerged from a crowd in the lobby of the House of Representatives and fired two pistols at President Andrew Jackson. They both miss. Jackson, an old army man who already carried around two lead bullets in his body from Indian fights and duels, was so outraged that he grabbed Lawrence and started drubbing him on the head with his silver tipped cane. He beat him so badly that the police had the strange task of saving the assassin from his intended victim.

1862- John Ericsson’s radical design for an all iron warship, the USS Monitor, was launched at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

1889- THE MAYERLING AFFAIR-Archduke Rudolf Von Hapsburg, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, commits suicide with his mistress, a Bavarian baroness Maria Vestera. Rudolf was already married and even if he could divorce he could never marry so below his station. Some say that there was more intrigue to it, that German statesman Otto Von Bismarck had Rudolf murdered because Rudolph planned on challenging Berlin’s hold over German unity, but that conspiracy theory is a longshot. His family felt Rudolf was an emotionally disturbed man, who finally found a girl dumb enough to follow him in his suicide pact. The Baroness had taken poison and then Rudolf had blown his brains out. Austrian funerary makeup artists worked overtime to make the Archduke's shattered face fit for an open casket wake. His mother the Empress Elizabeth refused to go: "I won't go see that thing! It's head is made of wax !"

1894-Charles King of Detroit patented the pneumatic jackhammer.

1917- The German General Staff gambled that resuming unrestricted U-boat warfare would economically destroy England and win WWI even if it angered the United States enough to declare war. Admiral Keppel told the Kaiser that even if the United States did enter the war, they could never get enough soldiers across the ocean to accomplish anything. “The threat from America is less than nothing. Nothing!”

1931- Hollywood Premiere of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights. Later at a dance at the Biltmore Hotel, writer Herman Mankewicz (Citizen Kane, Duck Soup) got into a drunken fistfight with producer David O. Selznick (Gone With the Wind, Rebecca). You’ll never eat turtle-soup in this town again!

1933- HI-YO SILVER!! The Lone Ranger debuted on radio. The Masked Man was invented by the WXYZ Detroit station owner George Trendle and writer Fran Striker with absolutely no experience of cowboys or Indians. They just wanted a hero like Zorro with a strict moral code. He was later voiced by actor William Conrad who did the Rocky & Bullwinkle narration and the TV series Cannon.

1934- Artist Salvador Dali married Gala.

1933- ADOLF HITLER TAKES POWER. After a general election President Von Hindenberg was forced to appoint the Nazi Party leader Chancellor. Hindenberg had earlier growled” Chancellor? I’ll make him a postmaster so he could lick stamps with my face on it!” But he was forced to give in. Germans were fed up with skyrocketing inflation and political anarchy so they voted for the little man with the Charlie Chaplin mustache.
The Nazis didn’t win by a landslide vote, it was a 37-42% majority, with the rest divided among splinter parties. The German Army at first didn’t cooperate with the Nazis. Their real power came when Hitler made a bargain with the major German corporations like Krupp, Seimans, Bayer and Daimler to take the ‘socialist” out of National Socialists and arrest all communists, unions and other bad-for-business types. All this was applauded by big business in the US like JP Morgan, Chase and Hearst who floated loans to Germany. With their new corporate clout the Nazis quickly called a new election to gain an overwhelming parliamentary majority in the Reichstag.
After ancient President Hindenberg died in 1934 the Reichstag voted dictatorial powers to Hitler making him Der Fuehrer.

1943- At Stalingrad as the freezing remains of the German 6th Army were wiped out by superior Soviet forces, this day Berlin received the last radio message from Field Marshal Von Paulus’ headquarters in the basement of a bombed out department store:” Russians at the door. We are preparing to destroy the radios. We are preparing…”

1945- As the Red Army pushed the borders of the Third Reich back into Germany the German populations of isolated Baltic cities like Memel, Riga and Konigsberg tried to escape by sea. It was a Nazi Dunkirk, evacuations with ships full of people being bombed and strafed from the air. This day a large ship named the Wilhelm Gustoff was torpedoed by a Russian submarine. 1,500 people died on the Titanic, 7,700 people drowned in the frigid waters from the Wilhelm Gustoff- the most deaths ever in one sea disaster.

1946- The first US dimes with Franklin Roosevelt on the head were issued.

1948- 78 year old Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi was shot three times in the chest and killed by Hindu extremist Nathuram Godse while walking to morning prayers.

1956- Elvis Presley recorded Blue Suede Shoes.

1958- Britain’s House of Lords admitted women for the first time.

1960- For years after the making of Fantasia, critics had pondered Igor Stravinsky's cryptic reaction to Disney's portrayal of his "Rite of Spring". Disney publicity said he was "speechless with admiration!" Today in a Saturday Review article, Stravinsky said Stokowski's editing of his music was 'execrable' and the visuals "an unresisting imbecility". His opinion still didn't stop him from selling the studio film rights to several other of his pieces including "The Firebird' in 1942. Igor needed the cash.

1961-H-B's the Yogi Bear Show.

1963- MIT Grad student Ivan Sutherland published his thesis Sketchpad, the first animation software. For the first time, a computer could draw lines instead of just numbers. When students at the University of Utah like Ed Catmull, Nolan Bushnell and Jim Blinn were learning about CG. The first thing they were asked to read was Sutherland’s Sketchpad. Everything from Buzz Lightyear, Laura Croft, Gravity and Mortal Combat results.

1969- The rock band the Beatles last public appearance as a group. They tried to do a free concert in the London streets but were banned by police for fear of congestion and noise complaints. So they withdrew to a rooftop above their recording studio and played anyway. John Lennon ended the concert by saying: ‘Thank you very much on behalf of the band and myself and I hope we passed the audition.”

1972- BLOODY SUNDAY- British troops attempting to quell Irish sectarian riots in the poor neighborhoods of Londonderry fired into a crowd of unarmed civilians, killing 14 and wounding dozens more. British authorities attempted a spin by saying the troops were responding to perceived snipers, but no evidence of any snipers was ever proven. None of the soldiers were ever disciplined for their actions. The incident outraged world opinion and angered the larger Irish Republic.

1973- White House operatives G. Gordon Liddy and James McCord were convicted of burglary in the Watergate break in. President Nixon hoped sacrificing these two small fish would end the investigation. It didn’t. Liddy did some jail time, and today is a highly paid conservative radio talk show host.

1976- George H. W. Bush Sr. became head of the CIA. Poppy Bush revived the organization which had been wracked by scandal after the Frank Church Congressional Committee revealed details of the Allende coup in Chile, overseas assassination, illegal surveillance of Americans and schemes to put chemicals in Fidel Castro’s food to make his beard fall out.

2001- Shortly after becoming president, George W. Bush held the first meeting of his National Security Council. Secty of State Colin Powell and Treasury Secty Paul O’Neill were shocked when Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Condy Rice immediately start talking about how to invade Iraq and replace Saddam Hussein. Nine months before 9-11.

2002- President George W. Bush Jr salutes his Vice President Dick Cheney on his birthday by saying “You are the best Vice President this country has ever had!” He may have forgotten that his own father was also once vice president. I’m sure his mom reminded him later.
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Yesterday’s Question: Russian President Vladimir Putin was once a KGB agent. Has a US President ever come from the CIA ?

Answer: George H.W. Bush was once director of the CIA.


Jan 29, 2016 fri.
January 29th, 2016

Quiz: Russian President Vladimir Putin was once a KGB agent. Has a US President ever come from the CIA ?

Yesterday’s Question Answered Below: What does it mean to go “ Beyond the Pale”..?
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History for 1/29/2016
Birthdays: Roman Emperor Didius Julianus, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Thomas Paine, William Claude Dunkenfeld known as W.C. Fields, Victor Mature, Paddy Chayefsky, Tom Selleck is 71, Ed Burns, Bill Peet, Greg Louganis, John D Rockefeller Jr., Claudine Longet, John Horsely (1817) the inventor of the Christmas Card-1842*, Oprah Winfrey is 62, Heather Graham is 46.

*Horsley was a Victorian artist at the Royal Academy in London who refused to draw nudes because it offended his morality. This earned him the nickname- Clothes Horsely.

282BC- Death of Pharoah Ptolomey II Philadelphus.

1728- At this time all the rage in London was Italian Opera based on adaptations of Greek Mythology sung by castrated male sopranos. This day John Gay and Johann Pepuschs THE BEGGARS OPERA was first produced in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The play was a sensation because it was an opera in English using popular tunes of the time and told the story not of gods or noble heroes, but highwaymen, bawdy girls and innkeepers. Considered the first true musical.

1775-the COCKPIT TAVERN, or BEN GETS his ASS CHEWED- Benjamin Franklin was postmaster general of the American Colonies and was feeling pretty good about his ability to represent American interests in London. He successfully argued the American's opposition to the Stamp Tax in the House of Commons. He offered to pay back exporters who lost money from the Boston Tea Party.

On this day he was invited to the Cockpit Tavern for what he thought was a private meeting. He was ushered into a room where he faced a delegation from the Royal Privy Council. The ministers spent the next 4 hours dressing him down. The Lord Chief Justice finished by shouting in 70 year old Ben’s face:" Spy, Traitor, Rebel, Thief! " He was fired as postmaster and ordered home to America before they clapped him in prison. Ben Franklin entered the tavern a loyal subject, and left a committed revolutionary.

1813- Jane Austin’s novel Pride and Prejudice first published.

1820- After spending the last ten years of his long reign as a blind insane shut-in, King George III died at age 82. His son the Prince Regent finally became King George IV. Americans remember George III as the tyrant of the Revolution, but Britons truly loved their old monarch and his simple family-man tastes. While his German grandfather George II was barely mourned at all, all the Empire lamented the passing of Old Shopkeeper George.

1834- President Andrew Jackson sent U.S. troops to shoot at striking workers at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal project. It was the first but sadly not the last time Federal troops were used to "settle" a labor strike with guns.

1842- The Republic of Texas authorized the raising of a company of rangers to keep the peace- the Texas Rangers. Stephen Austin had commissioned rangers as early as 1833, but from this date on their regular service began.

1845- Edgar Allen Poe's poem the Raven first published. Nevermore.

1861- Since Kansas Territory was going to be organized as a state slaveholders and union men fought over whether she would be a free or slave state. Ten years later as the Civil War was breaking out Kansas announced statehood- as a free state.

1886-In Karlsruhe Germany, Dr. Karl Benz patented the internal combustion engine. To prevent gasoline explosions it utilized a fuel distribution system based on a ladies perfume atomizer spray (the carburetor). He called his horseless carriage at first a Motorvagen, but later names it after his partner Godfried Daimler’s daughter, Mercedes.

1891 After the death of King David IV Kalakoua, Lilioukalani was proclaimed Queen of Hawaii. Besides being the last monarch of Hawaii, Lilioukalani composed the song "Aloha-Oi, Aloha-Oi, Until we meet Again."

1918- The new Bolshevik revolutionary government ordered the immediate demobilization of the Russian Army, preparatory for pulling out of World War I. After Civil War broke out Leon Trotsky began to form a new army of Communist volunteers, the Red Army.

1920- Walt gets a job. Nineteen year old Walt Disney and his buddy Ub Iwerks were hired by a local Kansas City Slide Company to draw ads for newspapers and slides for theaters.

1935- The first inductees to the new Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown announced- Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Matthewson and Walter Johnson. Hall of Fame dedication ceremony was on June 12th 1939.

1936- Dictator Benito Mussolini lays the first stone of Cinecitta’ Movie Studios.

1943- Fredrich Von Paulus was the commander of the German Sixth Army, now totally surrounded at Stalingrad. The few survivors were huddled in basements in the destroyed city, freezing, starving and being wiped out by superior Russian forces. Paulus and his men prayed for a miracle to save them. This day he heard via radio that Adolf Hitler had promoted him to Field Marshal, with a suggestion that no German Field Marshal should ever be taken alive…..

1944- DARBY’S RANGERS were an elite American commando unit trained for the toughest assignments, the forerunners of the Green Berets and Delta Forces. On this day the bungling generals of the Anzio beachhead sent them into a suicidal battle at the Italian town of Cisterna. Germans were had anticipated the attack and set a trap. 761 rangers went in, 6 came out. Colonel Darby himself survived the battle, but was killed two days before the World War II ended.

1957- Patsy Cline recorded "Walkin' After Midnight."

1959- Disney's " SLEEPING BEAUTY " opened. Despite earning the fifth highest box office for that year, it finished $5 million behind what it cost to make. The animation staff had swollen to it's largest to finish the production. It’s disappointing box office soured Walt Disney on feature animation. After the film was finished the studio had a massive layoff, dropping from 551 to just 75. Staff level will not return to these same levels until 1990.

1964- Stanley Kubrick's nuclear comedy "DR STRANGLOVE –OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB." premiered. It's use of hand held camera for action sequences and cutting inspired by the European New Wave ushered in a new style in Hollywood cinema. So, who was Tracey Reed? She played Miss Scott, George C. Scott’s bikini clad secretary, and the only woman in the entire movie.

1964- Actor Alan Ladd (Shane), accidentally overdosed on tranquilizers and scotch. He was 50.

1975- The Weather Underground set off a bomb in the US State Department. They were a violent offshoot of the Student Anti-Vietnam War protest movement,

1977- Comic TV. star of "Chico and the Man " Freddy Prinze (23) blew his brains out. Some said he suffered from a survivor's depression about why he had succeeded in life while all his friends from the Barrio were dead from gang killings or drugs. Family members said that he was just stoned on Quaaludes and was clowning around with a gun.

1979- President Jimmy Carter commuted the jail sentence of Patty Hearst.

1986- The National Geographic Society announced the discovery of the largest fossil find in North America. Estimated 10,000 fossilized remains in Nova Scotia They include penny sized dinosaur footprints, the smallest ever found. Best guess are they are from the Triassic-Jurassic boundary – a time of mass extinction.

2002- THE AXIS OF EVIL- In his State of the Union speech President George W. Bush coined the term " The Axis of Evil". He labeled as members Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Iran is a Shiite religious theocracy, Iraq a Sunnite secular fascist dictatorship and North Korea an atheistic Communist state- all with nothing in common and little mutual contact. The speechwriter originally wrote "Axis of Hate" but the Bush people like the Good vs. Evil thing. They also substituted North Korea for Libya because they wanted one non-Moslem power included, so they didn’t seem biased.

We recently learned from a retired CIA operative that up till now Iran had actually been cooperating with the USA in rounding up Al Qaeda agents. After 9-11 Iran arrested 16 Al Qaeda operatives. At the request of the US, they handed them over to Saudi Arabia, who promptly let them all go. But after the speech, the Iranians broke off all contact. An Iranian diplomat complained’ We feel like we’ve been slapped in the face.”
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Yesterday’s Question: What does it mean to go “ Beyond the Pale”..?

Answer: When the English occupied Ireland, they brought in English families and businesses to settle regions of Ulster. The area between this area and the unoccupied areas of Ireland were called The Pale. In Victorian England tourist maps warned British visitors not to go “ Beyond the Pale”.
Catharine the Great’s Russia also had areas of wild Cossack steppeland settled by European middle class town families (mostly German Jews). It was also called The Pale.
So to go “ Beyond the Pale” meant to go outside the zone of safety or propriety.


Jan 28, 2016
January 28th, 2016

Quiz: What does it mean to go “ Beyond the Pale”..?

Yesterday’s quiz answered below: Who first said” Senator I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. And you sir, are no Jack Kennedy.”
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History for 1/28/2016
Birthdays: King Henry VII Tudor, Jose Marti, Colette, Jackson Pollack, Claus Oldenburg, Arthur Rubenstein, Ernst Lubitsch, Connie Rasinski, Susan Sontag, Barbie Benton, General George Pickett, William Burroughs (1855) the inventor of the calculator, Mo Rocca, Alan Alda is 80, Elijah Wood is 36

1393- DANSE MACABRE- At a masquerade ball given at the French court King Charles VI 'the mad' and several of his closest friends dressed up as 'wild men' to amuse the court. They had fur and hair attached to their bodies with tar.
While everyone was enjoying the capering of these strange anonymous creatures, a torch touched their tar covered bodies and the group exploded into flame. While the court watched these beings writhe in agony, The Duchess de Berry screamed" Oh My God! That's the King!" King Charles was saved when that same duchess smothered his flames in her skirts. Another duke saved himself by diving headlong into a vat of Beaujolais, but the others roasted to death.

The common people weren't sympathetic. One duke liked to step on your neck while sneering 'Down Peasant!". As his barbecued remains were carried through Paris, people laughed and sang and chanted 'Down Monseignieur!" Edgar Allen Poe wrote a poem called “Hop Frog” about the incident. Roger Corman put it into his 1964 film- Masque of the Red Death.

1547- English Henry VIII died, leaving his ten year-old sickly-son Edward VI "Gods Imp" king. He was 55 years old but his hard living had aged him early. Increasingly suspicious of all around him as he aged, one of his last acts was to have the Earl of Surrey beheaded for changing the coat of arms of his father the Duke of York into something more like a Royal Heir-Apparent. The Duke was also scheduled to be executed but was saved when the king died first.

1596- Sir Francis Drake died at sea off the coast of Nicaragua while trying to mount one more big raid on the Spanish Main. The Devonshire preacher's son had raided there as a young man. But by now, the Spaniards had learned his tricks so they were prepared. The trip was a failure and he died on deck of yellow fever in late middle age.

1782- The Congress called for the use of the Great Seal of the United States, even though no one had designed one yet. But the British had one and so..uh,we had to have one too !

1829- BURKE & HARE- In the early nineteenth century scientific experiments on cadavers were still outlawed as desecration of the dead so doctors secretly hired grave robbers to get them specimens to experiment on. Burke & Hare were the most infamous of Edinburgh's "ressurrectionists" because they didn't always wait for the subject to die, but murdered them in their boardinghouse. To Burke someone became slang for suffocating them. Doctors and later police became suspicious of the freshness of their specimens and Hare finked on Burke to save himself.
On this day Burke was hanged before a crowd of thousands and his body later medically dissected. The notoriety of this case helped pass laws allowing doctors more legal use of mortal remains. Their story was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's story "The Body Snatcher."

1863- Ulysses Grant arrived at Vicksburg to begin the epic campaign that would end on July 4th with the capture of the 'Gibraltar of the Confederacy'.

1878- First commercial telephone switchboard.

1884- A British relief force reached the city of Khartoum just two days too late. After a one year siege the Sudanese Dervishes had sacked the city and massacred all the foreigners including General Chinese Gordon, dancing with their heads on spears. The desert relief force was held up until all their supplies were complete, including 20,000 black umbrellas.

1902- Andrew Carnegie was a rough crude tycoon with a ruthless streak that saw him ruin his competitors and pay vigilantes to murder his striking employees and their families. But after all the rough and tumble of the Gilded Age business world, he showed a new side of his character in retirement. He set up the Carnegie Institute in Washington and resolved to give away the bulk of his $350 million dollar fortune in philanthropic causes. The reason why so many colleges, hospitals and concert halls in America today are named Carnegie. “A man who dies rich dies disgraced!”

1915- The U.S. Coast Guard born, combining the Lifesaving Service and the Revenue Cutter patrol. In 2002 the Coast Guard was folded into the Cabinet office Department of Homeland Security.

1916- President Woodrow Wilson nominated Judge Lewis Brandeis to the Supreme Court. Brandeis was the first Jewish American to be so honored.

1917- After 11 months fruitlessly chasing Pancho Villa through Mexico and skirmishing with the Mexican army, Pres. Wilson ordered General John Pershing’s army home.

1918- In Germany a million industrial workers fed up with the endless carnage of World War One went on strike, paralyzing factories nationwide.

1926- Composer Kurt Weill married his Pirate Jenny- Lotte Lenya.

1930- Warner Brothers Cartoons Born. Leon Schlesinger, the head of Pacific Art and Title, signed a deal with several unemployed Disney animators who had left Walt to form their own studio to draw Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but had been stiffed by their contacts. Schlesinger had connections with the Warner Bros. since he helped them get funding for the 'Jazz Singer'. They create Leon Schlesinger's Studio Looney Tunes, in imitation of Disney's Silly Symphonies. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and more result.

1949- The Admiral Broadway Review premiered on television. The one and a half hour comedy review starred Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca. The show was so popular Admiral was swamped for orders for new televisions and ironically was forced to cancel the show to focus on their production needs. The show was revived as Your Show of Shows, one of the great shows of early television.

1956- Young singer Elvis Presley first appeared to television audiences on the Dorsey Brothers Stage Show.

1958- Brooklyn Dodger catcher Roy Campanella paralyzed in an auto wreck. He spent the rest of his life as a spokesman for the rights of the handicapped.

1978- Premiere of Hanna Barbera's the Three Robonic Stooges.

1982- Danny DeVito married Rhea Perlman.

1986- THE CHALLENGER DISASTER- As the world watched the Space shuttle Challenger exploded 74 seconds after takeoff killing all twelve crew members. They included New Hampshire schoolteacher Christie McAuliffe who had won the space ride in a contest. It was blamed on defective O-rings in the rocket booster.

2003- President George W. Bush in his State of the Union address says that he had proof that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had sent agents to the African nation of Niger to buy uranium yellowcake, a component to make atomic bombs. It is one of the major excuses for the war with Iraq. It was later proved to be a complete lie. Bush blamed the intelligence service, after giving the head of the CIA George Tenent the Medal of Freedom. When special CIA envoy Joseph Wilson, who knew Niger, tried to point out the falsehood, the Bush White House destroyed his career and outed the cover of his CIA wife, Valerie Plame. She had been working on exposing the Iranian Nuclear program.
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Yesterday’s Question: Who first said” Senator I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. And you sir, are no Jack Kennedy.”

Answered: Lloyd Benson, Michael Dukakis’ running mate in the 1988 presidential elections, said it to George HW Bush’s VP candidate, Dan Quayle during the vice presidential debate, after Quale compared his senatorial experience to JFK’s. Dukakis/Benson lost, but the line lives on.


Jan 27, 2016 weds
January 27th, 2016

QUIZ: Who first said” Senator I knew Jack Kennedy. Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. And you sir, are no Jack Kennedy.”

Yesterdays question answered below: What was the original name of the nation of Myanmar?
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History for Jan. 27, 2016
Birthdays-Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Kaiser Wilhelm II, Charles Dodgson-better known as Lewis Carroll, Eduard Lalo, William Randolph Hearst, Samuel Gompers, Jerome Kern, Skitch Henderson, Donna Reed, Bridgette Fonda, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Kate Wolf, Ross Bagdasarian a.k.a. David Seville- creator of Alvin and the Chipmunks, James Cromwell, Mimi Rogers, Keith Olbermann, Frank Miller is 59, Patton Oswalt is 47

Today is celebrated as Thomas Crapper Day, the inventor of the indoor toilet. Besides making life more comfortable, his systems of valves and vents preventing waste odors and germs from re-entering the home. This did a lot to combat disease in the 19th century.

98AD- Roman General Trajan was serving on the German frontier. This day his aide Hadrian came with the news that the Emperor Nerva had died and had designated him as the next Emperor of Rome. Trajan was such a no–nonsense soldier that he delayed several months in Germany to settle the affairs of the province, before leaving to rule in Rome.

1307- The poet Dante Alighieri got kicked out of Florence. At least being exiled from politics left his mind free to concentrate on his poetry, like the Divine Comedy.

1431- German King Louis of Bavaria entered Rome in triumph to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor. It had been custom since Charlemagne for the German Emperor to be called King of the Romans until the Pope crowned him. But Louis was arguing with the Pope in Avignon over several issues so rather than wait Louis expected the people of Rome to declare him Emperor. The German electors later reserved that right for themselves in Frankfurt. By successfully challenging the right of the Pope over him Louis of Bavaria was unwittingly aiding the coming of the Reformation seventy years in the future.

1535- Today is the Feast of Saint Angela Merci, founder of the Ursuline Nuns.

1649- King Charles Ist of England was convicted by trial in Parliament and sentenced to be beheaded.

1671- Buccaneer Henry Morgan and his pirates cross the Isthmus of Darien and attack Panama City by land. Morgan the Pirate looted the city, despite the Spaniards stampeding a herd of bulls at him. However the attack wasn't much of a surprise and most of the population had already fled with their valuables. I guess a coupla' hundred Englishmen with peg legs and patch eyes growling "Arrr!" isn't a common sight in the Equatorial rainforest.

1775- In London Secretary of State for the Americas Lord Dartmouth sends the Lord Governor of the colony of Massachusetts General Thomas Gage explicit orders to stop shilly-shallying with these uppity Yankee rebels. He should just clap them in prison and confiscate any illegal weapons.
General Gage will get his instructions two months later -that how long it took news to cross the Atlantic by sailing ship. It will cause his redcoats in April to march to Lexington and Concord, which will ignite the American Revolution. Ironically Old Tom Gage liked America and had a good friend in Virginia named George Washington.

1863- BEAR RIVER MASSACRE- The Shoshone Indians along with the Bannocks and Utes had been raiding wagon trains through Utah and Nevada. Col Patrick Connor led 300 US cavalry in subzero cold to attack Chief Bear Hunter’s winter camp in a hot-springs ravine near present day Preston, Idaho. After a daylong battle, 224 warriors were killed. The soldiers went berserk destroying tepees and raping the Indian women. Chief Bear Hunter was shot, beaten, whipped, and when he still would not die, a red-hot bayonet was rammed through his head via his ear. A soldier called it “A frolic”. The Shoshone, Utes and Bannocks, who a generation earlier had helped Lewis & Clark, now asked for peace.

1888- The first magazine published of the National Geographic Society.

1900- Italian opera composer Guiseppi Verdi died. On his instructions no music was to be played at his funeral.

1918- Warner Bros. Pictures incorporated. The Brothers Warner (originally Wonskolasser)- Sam Albert, Harry and Jack were the sons of Jewish immigrants who had moved from Poland in 1882 and after some time in Canada, set up a bicycle repair shop in Ohio. In 1903 Albert and Harry bought a movie theater and began showing flickers. After their move to Hollywood, their first movie was Five Years in Germany. Throughout the 1920’s their little studio survived making pictures with dog star Rin Tin Tin. They called him The Mortgage Lifter, because the profits from his pictures paid their bills. Later they bought Vitagraph from James Stewart Blackton, and gambled on the new Sound technology. When they made The Jazz Singer with Jolson, Warner Bros became a major studio.

1925- IDITEROD- THE SERUM RUN BEGAN- At this time Nome Alaska was totally depended on supplies brought by sled dog teams. When a serious outbreak of diphtheria threatened to become a major epidemic Alaska had only two airplanes, and they were boxed up for the winter. Governor Scot C. Bone decided to get the vaccination serum to Nome by a relay of twenty mushers in the depth of winter, temperatures averaging around -40f degrees. It normally took a dog sled twenty days to cover the 650 miles, but these men did it in 5 days 7 hours, limiting the epidemic to only 5 deaths.

This day the serum arrived by train at Nenana sealed in a metal cylinder wrapped in furs and was loaded onto the first dog sled. Wild Bill Shannon called out to his malamutes and mushed down the frozen Tanana River into history. The Iditarod dog race runs in memory of this.

1926- Englishman John Logie Baird demonstrated his televisor system- the first true television image.

1927- Charlie Chaplin’s short comedy The Circus premiered.

1932- The Mukden Incident- Japanese troops rig up a provocation at a railway junction so they can invade Manchuria. If you are counting this little railway junction is the real beginning of World War II, which would rage until 1945. Apologists for Japanese Emperor Hirohito say he was not even informed of this attack and tried to order its recall, but was overruled by the military planners.

1943- US 8th Air Force conducted its’ first daylight bombing raid on Germany, attacking Wilhelmshaven. The air-Battle of Germany would continue to until May 1945.

1944- The Red Army breaks through to Leningrad (St. Petersburg) and lifts the 800 day Nazi siege.

1944- WAS WALT A RED? Walt Disney donated money and may have attended a tribute to cartoonist Art Young in New York who had died three weeks before. Art Young was a political lefty and a close friend of John Reed and Louise Bryant, founders of the American Communist Party. The F.B.I. noted the memorial to Young was sponsored by the socialist newspaper The New Masses and other attendees included progressives like Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Ernest Hemingway and Carl Sandburg.
Walt was already a founding member of the Hollywood Society for the Preservation of American Ideals, a group of conservative Hollywood celebrities meant to counteract the rampant Hollywood Liberals. Disney later became an F.B.I. informant, but like Reagan, it may have been after the F.B.I. reminded him of his attendance at this little soiree'....

1945- The Soviet Red Army finally liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. The first soldier to reach the camp was a Mongolian scout on a horse. This led one Jewish survivor to wonder if the Nazis now had intended to hand them over to the Japanese! The Russians hanged Auschwitz commandant Rudolph Hoess in front of the villa in camp he and his family lived in. He was not the Rudolph Hess who flew to London in 1941 and died in Spandau Prison. Rescued survivors include the future Nobel Laureate Primo Levi, and the founder of Commodore Computers, Jack Trammel.

1948- The Wireway Company announced the first tape recorder for sale using the new magnetic tape. It cost $150.

1951- Test Ranger Abel. Because atomic tests in the Pacific were getting expensive, the US Air Force starts using the Nevada Test Site to drop their nuclear bombs.

1967- Three Apollo I astronauts Gus Grissom (veteran of the third Gemini flight), Ed Young and Roger Chafee died in a flash fire in their capsule. In those days the hatchways were literally screwed on from the outside and there was no way to open it from the inside. The fire occurred during a routine rehearsal probably from static electricity igniting an atmosphere of pure oxygen and feeding on velcro. The three men burned to death while engineers frantically struggled with the hatch. After this episode the future Apollo capsules were fitted with a hatch with exploding bolts. Grissom had once said: “If we die people must accept it. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life.”

1973- Henry Kissinger and Li Duc To sign the Paris Peace Accords ending U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. President Nixon hailed the agreement as Peace with Honor but the defeat traumatized a generation of Americans and confused the public as to just what the American role in the world really was. Kissinger and Li Duc To won the Nobel Peace Prize for that year. Li Duc refused to accept it because his country was still at war. “if there's no peace, it would be hypocritical to receive a prize for it!" Henry the K didn’t have a problem accepting it and went to Oslo.
North Vietnam overran South Vietnam two years later.

1992- Presidential candidate Bill Clinton was denounced by a woman named Jennifer Flowers of having a 12 year extramarital affair with her when governor of Arkansas. He goes on 60 Minutes with Hilary and called her a liar. Of course we now know they did have an affair, but hey, that’s politics.

1997- First day shooting on the Cohen Bros. film The Big Lebowski- The Dude Abides.
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Yesterdays question: What was the original name of the nation of Myanmar?

Answer: Burma.


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