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TomSito.com - TOM'S BLOG
Nov 21, 2017
November 21st, 2017

Question: From what country did the U.S. acquire the US Virgin Islands from…?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: Which European country did NOT acquire colonies in the Third World or the Americas? A. Denmark, B. Sweden, C. Russia, D. Finland.
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History for 11/21/2017
Birthdays: Francios Arouet called Voltaire, Marlo Thomas is 79, Adolphe Marx called Harpo, Colman Hawkins, Stan “The Man” Musial, Tom Horn, Pope Benedict XlV, Earl the Pearl Monroe, Harold Ramis, Rene Magritte, Goldie Hawn is 72, Dr. John (born Malcolm Rebennack), Mariel Hemingway, Troy Aikman, Bjork is 52

53BC- Marcus Licinius Crassus, the Roman consul who conquered Spartacus, doesn’t do as well with the Parthians in Mesopotamia (Iraq). Today he was captured in battle. Well known as a millionaire, the Parthians killed him by pouring molten gold down his throat. Then his body dragged around the ground by a chariot, then stuffed and mounted it in their temple of victories.

1620- THE PILGRIMS LAND AT PLYMOUTH ROCK- Legend has it Mary Chilton and John Alden were the first ones to set foot upon The New World. After leaving England, the fundamentalist sect tried living in Utrecht. But the Dutch couldn't stand them either. They had set sail for Virginia, but bad weather had blown them to the coast of Massachusetts. The area they were settling was some of the most densely populated Indian land in North America, but the smallpox spread by preceding European explorers had decimated the tribes, leaving entire villages empty. When the Pilgrims saw this they held a thanksgiving service in honor of: "He who prepares a way for His people by sweeping away the heathen."

The Plymouth Rock enshrined in modern Plymouth was identified in 1677 by an elderly survivor of the landing, as the huge rock escarpment they landed on. The city fathers tried to pry it loose but only a little chunk broke off. That’s why the current enshrined Plymouth Rock looks pretty small for a big ship to park on.

1718- BLACKBEARD THE PIRATE KILLED. William Teech from Bristol had served on privateers fighting the French. When the war was over he went into business for himself. He grew a huge black beard, which he tied lit cannon fuses into the ringlets to scare people. This day two sloops of Royal Marines sent from Virginia colony led by a Lieutenant Maynard RN, boarded Blackbeard’s ship when she ran aground on the coast of North Carolina. The fighting was all hand to hand. Blackbeard went down after he was shot five times and slashed with cutlasses 25 times. Blackbeard had stationed a boy with a lit match in the powder magazine, with orders to blow everything to hell the moment the battle was lost, but the boy was killed before he could accomplish his task. After the battle Lt. Maynard found papers proving the Royal Governors of Bermuda and North Carolina were receiving bribes from the pirate for safe harbor. Blackbeard’s head was cut off and hung it from the bowsprit for the trip home. They threw the rest of his corpse into the ocean where legend says it swam around the ship once before sinking.

1774- Sir Robert Clive had won the great Battle of Plassey that had won India for the British Empire and avenged the Black Hole of Calcutta. But like every general since Scipio Africanis would discover, success in battle breeds jealousy at home. His London enemies pushed lawsuits alleging he used his power in Bengal to embezzle riches. Although he was acquitted of every charge the experience broke his spirit. This day high on opium he committed suicide.

1794- Honolulu Harbor discovered by British explorers.

1812- During Napoleon’s Retreat from Moscow Marshal Ney and his III Corps were given the assignment of protecting the rearguard of the army. This meant fighting off five pursuing Russian armies and hordes of marauding Cossacks while trying not to freeze to death in the subzero cold. Ney became the soul of the retreat. Every morning when men wanted to lie still in the snow and die, they would feel his boot in their backs, shouting, cursing, encouraging them to get up and live another day. He cold-shaved with snow every morning. On November 17th he was cut off from the main army and surrounded. Russian General Miloradovich offered surrender terms, but Ney refused.” A Marshal of France Never Surrenders!” Leaving dummy campfires, Ney marched east and up around the Russian armies until this day he fought his way back to Napoleons main force. Of 10,000 effectives he now had barely 900 left. Napoleon called Ney “The Bravest of the Brave.”

1818- Since annexing Poland and the Ukraine, the Czar of Russia also governed the largest grouping of Jews in the world. This day his Jewish subjects petitioned the Czar Alexander I for a homeland in Palestine. The Czar said he would think about it, then ignored their request.

1852- The Methodist Congregation of Randolph County North Carolina charted a school called the Union Institute later renamed Trinity College. In 1924 a man named James B. Duke gave the school $20 million bucks, so they renamed it Duke University.

1864- THE BIXBY LETTER- President Abe Lincoln was moved to write a Massachusetts mother upon learning she had lost 5 sons in the Civil War. It is one of the most eloquent examples of presidential prose. “I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.” The original of the letter had never been found. Mrs Bixby was not a Lincoln supporter, and may have destroyed it. It later turned out only two of her sons were killed. Two others were POWs and another a deserter.

1871-The cigar lighter patented by Moses Gale.

1916- During World War I, the hospital ship HMS Britannic struck a German mine in the Aegean Sea, and sank killing 30 people. What makes this sinking stand out, is that Britannic was the sister ship of HMS Titanic, that sank in 1912.

1920- Bloody Sunday- In Dublin IRA chief Michael Collins sent out his best assassination squad, nicknamed the Twelve Apostles. In the early morning they rounded up 20 of the top British counter terrorist police inspectors, nicknamed the Cairo Gang, and executed them. In some cases they forced the inspectors wives to watch their husbands die. In retaliation, the British paramilitaries called the Black & Tans entered a soccer stadium with an armored car during a match, and opened fire on the players and fans with machine guns. 25 innocent people were cut down.

1933- Film director Frank Capra went to Claudette Colbert’s home to talk her into delaying her holiday vacation long enough to star with Clark Gable in “It Happened One Night”. Colbert said she would only do it for double her normal salary and if they would be done by Dec 23rd so she could spend Christmas with friends at Squaw Valley Idaho.
They made the picture on a rush, and Colbert later told her friends:” I just finished the worst picture in the world!” It Happened One Night” became a big hit for Capra, Columbia and is one of Colbert’s most memorable performances.

1934- Cole Porter's musical 'Anything Goes!' opened on Broadway. Ethel Merman starring, In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked upon as somewhat shocking. Now Heaven knows- Anything Goes!”

1942- Warner's "A Tale of Two Kitties" the first Tweety Pie. I tawt I taw a puddy cat !

1946- Harry Truman became the first president to go underwater in a submarine.

1959- The day after he was fired WABC radio, DJ Alan Freed refused to sign a statement that he never received cash payments or payola to run Rock & Roll records on the air, which is exactly what he did.

1959- Jack Benny with his violin played a duet with Vice President Richard Nixon on piano.

1963- President John F. Kennedy and Jackie fly into San Antonio for a swing through Texas to gather support for a possible re-election run. Tomorrow would take them to Houston for breakfast, then through Dallas....

1963- U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam Henry Cabot Lodge III decided enough is enough. He started off to Washington to advise President Kennedy that involvement in the Vietnam War was pointless and the U.S. should pull all forces out. When Lodge arrived in Hawaii next day he got the news from Dallas.....

1963- Robert Stroud, the 'Birdman of Alcatraz' died behind bars at 73. Jailed in 1916 for murdering a man who beat up his girlfriend, he spent 54 years in prison, 42 in solitary confinement. His study of birds enabled him to become an expert in bird diseases, he wrote three books. Burt Lancaster played him in the movies as a tragic hero, but those who knew him said he was a morose psychopath who stabbed another inmate and murdered a guard. He was known to shave off all his body hair and drink alcohol distilled from the birdseed admirers sent him. Even his own mother hoped he'd never be paroled.

1964- The Verrazano Narrows Bridge opens in New York Harbor. I remember the first person through the gate was a motorcyclist who "popped a Wheelie" and tried to cross the bridge balanced on his back tire.

1967- US commanding General William Westmoreland announced that the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong were losing the Vietnam War. Two months later US forces were attacked on all sides by the massive Tet Offensive.

1980- “The Who Shot J.R.?” episode of the TV show Dallas.

1980- Australian Olivia Newton John’s disco anthem to aerobic exercise “Let’s Get Physical ” goes to number one of the pop charts and stays there for ten weeks.

1985- Jonathan Pollard, a Navy research analyst was arrested for compromising US security and passing intelligence to Israel. He served 34 years in prison.

1989- Junk bond king Michael Milken pleads guilty to insider stock trading and 98 counts of fraud. He now does lectures on ethics in business.

2008- Walt Disney’s film Bolt premiered.

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Yesterday’s Question: Which European country did NOT acquire colonies in the Third World or the Americas? A. Denmark, B. Sweden, C. Russia, D. Finland.

Answer: D. Finland.


Nov 20, 2017 mon
November 20th, 2017

Question: Which European country did NOT acquire colonies in the Third World or the Americas? A. Denmark, B. Sweden, C. Russia, D. Finland.

Yesterday’s Question answered below: What is a flugelhorn?
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History for 11/20/2017
Birthdays: Robert F. Kennedy, Joe Biden, Maya Plisetskaya, Gene Tierney, Dick Smothers, Bo Derek is 62, Sean Young is 52, Richard Dawson, Estelle Parsons, Barbera Hendricks, Duane Allman, Chester Gould the creator of Dick Tracy, Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis the first baseball commissioner, Alastair Cooke, Ming Na -the voice of Mulan

284AD- Diocletian became emperor of Rome.

866 A.D.- Saint Edmund the Martyr, King of the East Angles since being proclaimed by the Kingdoms of Norfolk and Suffolk at 14 years old in 855, was killed in battle with the Vikings. They said he ruled wisely and patterned his court after that of King David (sans Bathsheba). His story may be another feeder root for the legend of King Arthur.

1249-King Louis IX (St. Louis) arrived in the Middle East for his Crusade. His plan was to get to the Jerusalem by attacking Egypt, a much larger country. He didn’t get very far.

1272- King Edward I crowned king of England. Sometimes called the Great Plantagenet, the Hammer of the Scots or simply Longshanks- long legs.

1601-THE GOLDEN SPEECH- Elderly Queen Elizabeth Ist had ruled England for 42 years, a time of unparalleled prosperity and peace. This day the old queen gave her farewell speech to parliament: "Though God has raised Us to the Throne, the Glory of Our reign was ruling with the love of my people…… You may have had, and may yet have mightier, and wiser princes in this seat. But you will never have one who loved you more than I do." Elizabeth died two years later.

1620- Shortly before coming ashore in the New World, The Mayflower Compact was drawn up and signed by the 24 male Pilgrim settlers "To covenant and combine ourselves into a civile body-politick".

1718- " Fifteen men on a Dead Man’s Chest, Yo-Ho-Ho and a Bottle of Rum! Even though he knew the British Navy had cornered him, and was going to attack tomorrow, violent buccaneer Blackbeard spent this night drinking and partying with his crew.

1752- Death of John Shore, he was the most celebrated trumpet player of his time. Georg Frederich Handel and Henry Purcell wrote music for him, and he was the inventor of the Tuning Fork.

1777- In a speech in the House of Lords, elderly William Pitt the Elder, The Architect of the British Empire, denounced the Lord North’s government policy of trying to put down the American Revolution with military mercenaries bought in Germany." My Lords, you cannot conquer America! If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while foreign troops were landed on my soil I would never lay down my arms- never, never, never!"

1783- In Paris, Benjamin Franklin is in the crowd watching the first humans go aloft in a balloon designed by the Montgolfier Brothers. For 25 minutes Piastre de Rosier and the Marquis d'Arland flew 500 feet over the Seine, sipping champagne.
One member of the crowd sneered, "What good is it?" Franklin turned and said, "What good is a newborn baby?"

1895- Beethoven’s opera Fidelio premiered. He rewrote the overture four times and still wasn’t happy with it. So he rewrote it once more and published the other four as the Leonore Overtures.

1820- In the Pacific Ocean the whaling ship Essex was sunk by an enraged sperm whale. Only six men survived, floating on driftwood for ninety days, resorting to cannibalism before being rescued. This incident is thought to have been one of the inspirations for Herman Melville to write his novel Moby Dick.

1866- Howard University, the first college exclusively for African-American students, was founded by on armed Civil War General Oliver O. Howard.

1870- "YES, I AM A FREE LOVER!" In a speech in Steinway Hall to 3,000 people feminist Victoria Woodhull shocked polite society by declaring openly her right to her sexual freedom unfettered by law or social custom. That women had the right to own their own bodies. " To Love is a right higher than Constitution or laws!"

1875- Henry James published his first novel Rockwell Hudson.

1894- Prince Ananias premiered, the first operetta of Victor Herbert.

1910- General Porfirio Diaz had ruled Mexico as dictator for forty years. Now the Mexican Revolution broke out with a coalition of forces led by Francisco Madero.

1912- Carl Warr walked into Los Angeles City Hall with 60 sticks of dynamite strapped to him. As Police grab him, he set off his detonator. But nothing happened. He then begged police to kill him. Warr was sensationalized in the press as The Mad Bomber.

1914- First U.S. passports with photos issued.

1917- Lawrence of Arabia disguised himself as a Circassian peasant and slipped into the Turkish held Syrian town of Derea to get information. There he was captured and interrogated by Turkish authorities. They never realized who he was, they were just having some fun with a pretty faced boy. Lawrence was sexually molested, whipped and thrown back into the street. He admitted later he found the whole experience “enjoyable.”

1919- The first municipal airport ever opened at Tucson Arizona.

1943- TARAWA. U.S. Marines attacked the Japanese held island of Tarawa. The Pacific Theater of Operations was divided into two sections, the northern Pacific was done by Marines under the command of Admiral Nimitz, the southern end by the regular Army under Douglas MacArthur. This command structure didn't always function smoothly.
Tarawa was a terribly bloody battle that General MacArthur criticized as being unnecessary. He said he would have gone around the island and left it isolated, the way he outmaneuvered the huge Japanese bases at Rabaul and Truk.
Tarawa was taken after 72 hours of vicious fighting. Of the 5000 Japanese defenders , only 16 soldiers and one officer surrendered, along with some Korean slave laborers. One thousand Marines died, more than had died than in all the months of island hopping campaigning that year. By accident the photos of Marine dead washing up on the beach got to the public uncensored and was deeply shocking to Americans used to sanitized images of war.

1945- The Nuremburg War Crimes Trial convened. An international court judged 21 top Nazis including Hermann Goring, Albert Speer Joachim Von Ribbentropp and Rudolf Hess. For the first time the world learned of the methodical workings of the Holocaust.

1947-Princess Elizabeth the future Queen Elizabeth II married her cousin Prince Phillip Mountbatten of the exiled royal family of Greece.

1947- The longest running television show in history- Meet the Press, premiered. And it is still on today.

1963- two days before Pres Kennedy’s assassination, the House of Representatives passed a preliminary version of his Civil Rights bill. The following year his successor Lyndon Johnson forced through complete adoption.

1963- Attorney General Robert Kennedy had a birthday party up at his house Washington D.C. suburbs called Hillsborough. There his brother President John F. Kennedy and he discussed the coming 1964 election. The President said he was looking forward to doing a campaign swing through Texas that weekend. When he left the house that night it was the last time Bobby Kennedy would ever see his brother alive.

1969- The U.S. Dept of Agriculture bans the use of the insecticide DDT.

1975- Long time Spanish Fascist dictator Francisco Franco died at age 89, despite sleeping with the mummified arm of St. Theresa of Avila for a cure. Patriotic Spaniards immediately started partying. Stores sold out of champagne by 10 a.m. As planned King Juan Carlos took over and Spain became a constitutional monarchy.

1994- Rock & Roll star David Crosby received a new liver.

1998- Several state governments and the US tobacco industry reach a landmark settlement arising from lawsuits over smoking illnesses. The trial also killed off once and for all ads featuring The Marlboro Cowboy and Joe Camel, a cartoon character that at one point was as recognizable to children as Donald Duck.

1998- Pixar’s film A Bugs Life was generally released.
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Yesterday’s Question: What is a flugelhorn?

Answer: A large three-valve brass instrument larger than a cornet, but smaller than a baritone horn. Currently popular with jazz combos.


Nov 19, 2017
November 19th, 2017

Question: What is a flugelhorn?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: What modern nation was originally called Tanganyika?
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History for 11/19/2017
Birthdays: King Charles I of England, President James Garfield, Ferdinand de Lesseps, Roy Campanella, Tommy Dorsey, Ted Turner, Calvin Klein, Indira Ghandi, Dick Cavett, Larry King, Kathleen Quinlan, Alan Young -Mr. Ed’s friend, Ahmad Rashad, Allison Janey is 58, Meg Ryan is 56, Jodie Foster is 55, Terry Farrell

1493- On his second voyage to the New World, this day Christopher Columbus discovered the island of Puerto Rico.

1581- Czar Ivan the Terrible got so mad at his eldest son he beat him to death with a mace. Young Ivan tried to stop his dad from beating his pregnant wife, who he thought was wearing immodest garb. In this one act of blind rage Ivan extinguished his family dynasty. Clearly Ivan had some anger management issues.

1619- A young French student named Renes Descartes had enlisted in the army of Elector Maximillian of Bavaria to fight the Thirty Years War. Outside of Neuberg one evening he climbed into a stove to keep warm. There he had the first revelation to invent analytical geometry and the mathematical applications of religion. “ Cogito, Ergo Sum.” I think, therefore I am.” Happens to me every time I climb into a stove, too

1703- The "Man in the Iron Mask" died in Pignerole prison. Louis XIV had him locked up for forty years. He was first mentioned in Voltaire's History of the Age of Louis XIV as having a velvet mask, which writer Alexandre Dumas changed to iron for dramatic effect. No one ever discovered who he was or why his face was covered. Speculation was that he was everyone from an Italian diplomat, to the son of Oliver Cromwell, to a twin brother of King Louis XIV himself. It made for great literature, but he remains a mystery.

1828- Composer Franz Schubert died of complications of venereal gonorrhea at age 31.

1863- THE GETTYSBURG ADDRESS-At the dedication of the soldiers cemetery on the Gettysburg battlefield, the crowd watched Rev. Edward Everett, a famous abolitionist, deliver a fiery two-hour speech. Then President Abraham Lincoln stood up and in just two minutes delivered the most famous speech in U.S. History. "Forescore and Seven years ago Our Forefathers set Forth....And Government Of the People, By the People and For the People Shall Not Perish from the Earth. "
The crowd was polite but indifferent. The Times of London correspondent thought it "vague and uninspiring". Lincoln himself told his aide: "Lehman, that speech won't scowl !" meaning a plow blade that's too dull to cut. But Rev Everett was inspired “Mr. President, you said in two minutes much more than I did in two hours.” Contrary to legend Lincoln didn’t write it quickly on the back of an envelope, he worked long on his speeches and was seen doing corrections up to the last minute. There are three pencil copies of the speech still in existence. The photographer at the scene was still setting up his equipment when the brief speech ended and Lincoln started to sit down. He opened his shutter in time to get a blurry view of Lincoln's head in the crowd.

1903- Suffragette Carrie Nation tried to address the US Senate to plead for women’s voting rights and alcohol prohibition. She was barred admittance.

1915- I DREAMED I SAW JOE HILL LAST NIGHT.... Joe Hill executed in Utah- Swedish Immigrant Josef Hilstrom was a nationally known charismatic poet and union organizer. Large Utah copper mining companies that found Hill's folk song singing activism a nuisance had him convicted on trumped up murder charges. He was shot by firing squad despite pleas for clemency from President Wilson, Helen Keller and the Pope. Crowds of 10,000 marched in London and Sydney Australia for mercy for Joe Hill.
Hill's last words were:"I die as I have lived, a rebel. Don't mourn, Organize!" He stipulated in his will that his body be transported over the state line and buried in Colorado because: "I DON'T WANNA BE CAUGHT DEAD IN UTAH!" His body was cremated and the ashes sent in little envelopes to union offices across the nation.

1937- Japanese armies captured the Chinese city of Shouchow and pillage it with great slaughter.

1942-“ THE IVANS ARE COMING!” OPERATION URANUS- The big Russian counter-attack in the Battle of Stalingrad begins. The Battle for the city named for Stalin had stalemated into house to house fighting in cellars and factory rooms the Germans called Rattskrieg- Rats War. Meanwhile Marshal Gyorgi Zhukov had been massing forces on either end of the German 6th Army where weak Axis units of Romanian and Italian troops were holding the line. Luftwaffe commander Freiherr Von Richtofen reported the troop concentrations to army commanders but HQ remained strangely apathetic.
Today to the sound of thousands of Katyushka rocket launchers, nicknamed Stalin’s Pipe Organs, Marshal Zhukov launched two massive pincer assaults that blew through the German front, and joined up in the rear trapping 100,000 Nazis.

1942- GUERILLA MICE. A curious incident during the Battle of Stalingrad. While house to house battles raged in the inner city the main German tank forces sat quiet in fields outside since August. When the Russian attack began the tanks were started up. But soon their engines began to overheat and stall. In the long weeks of waiting field mice had crawled into the motors and ate away radiator hoses and electrical insulation. 68 of 100 tanks broke down thanks to enemy mousekis.

1942- In a concentration camp in Poland author-artist Bruno Schulz was executed. The author of “Street of Crocodiles” last act was being forced by a Gestapo officer to paint images from Brothers Grimm fairytales on his son’s bedroom wall before he was executed.

1945- Trying to complete the plan of social services created by Franklin Roosevelt, President Harry Truman called for National Health Insurance. It was defeated in Congress after intense lobbying by the powerful insurance and pharmaceutical companies. It would also be blocked when reintroduced later by Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Clinton. Until Pres. Obama created the ACA, the U.S. was the only nation in the front rank of developed nations to have no form of national health insurance.

1959- Jay Ward's television show 'Rocky and his Friends' debuts.

1961- Michael Rockefeller, the son of tycoon Nelson Rockefeller, disappeared in the jungles of New Guinea. It’s assumed he was killed by natives and probably eaten.

1969- The great soccer champion Pele scored his 1,000 goal.

1998- Film Director Alan J. Pakula was one of the Hollywood community who preferred living in New York City. This day he was driving on the Long Island Expressway when he was killed in a freak accident. A large truck kicked up in its tires a discarded piece of steel pipe. It flipped it through Pakulas windshield, killing him instantly.

2002- HOMELAND SECURITY. Reacting to the 9-11 attack Congress approved President Bush’s plan for a cabinet level position called the Department of Homeland Security. This branch would concentrate the activities of US Customs & Immigration, FEMA, The Coast Guard and other law enforcement agencies.
Despite insisting this new organization was all that stood between us and future 9-11 attacks, the Bush White House stubbornly refused to sign any bill that did not first bar it’s employees from joining the Gov’t Employees Service Union like the rest of Washington D.C.. By 2006 Homeland Security botched up the Hurricane Katrina disaster, and it’s fourth ranking executive was arrested by Polk County Fla police for soliciting sex from a 14 year old girl with leukemia.

2007- Disney film Enchanted premiered.

2013- Disney film Frozen premiered. Let it Go! Let it Go!
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Yesterday’s Question: What modern nation was originally called Tanganyika?

Answer: Originally German East Africa, today it is called Tanzania.


Nov 18, 2017
November 18th, 2017

Question: What modern nation was originally called Tanganyika?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: What does it mean to be a prevaricator?
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History for 11/18/2017
Birthdays: Armelita Galli-Curci, Karl Maria Von Weber, W.S. Gilbert, Johnny Mercer,
Astronaut Alan Shepard, Louis Daguerre, Brenda Vaccarro, Eugene Ormandy, George Gallup, Warren Moon, Pam Dawber, Rocket Ishmail, Delroy Lindo, Kevin Nealon, Owen Wilson is 50, Chloe Servigny is 44

500 A.D.- Today is the Feast day of the Irish Saint Mawes, who was born in a barrel floating in the sea.

It’s hand drawn animation day! See below- 1928.

1421-In Holland a dyke holding back the Zuyder Zee River gave way and the ensuing flood killed 10,000.

1602- In Transylvania, 22 year old English soldier of fortune John Smith killed three Turkish warriors in single combat. Such single bouts were normal before large armies clashed. The Duke of Transylvania, Sigmund Bathory, granted the commoner Smith his own coat of arms, three Turkish heads. This is the same John Smith who will go to Virginia and meet Pocahontas in 1607.

1718- Francois Voltaire’s first play Oedipe, premiered in Paris.

1812- Battle of Krasnoe-Napoleon's frozen army retreating from Moscow, fights it's way out of three encircling Russian armies trying to trap it. One of the armies was commanded by an admiral Tchitchagoff who's 20th century descendant would be the artist Erte'. Another general was the grandfather of writer Leo Tolstoy. General Tolstoy was an eccentric, who rode into battle in a chauffeured carriage with a trained bear sitting next to him he'd taught to drink champagne.

1863- Abraham Lincoln boarded a train to Gettysburg to deliver “a few appropriate remarks” to dedicate the new national cemetery there.

1865 Mark Twain's first story "The Jumping Frog of Calaveras County' published.

1883- THE DAY WITH TWO NOONS. Congress adopted William Allen’s plan to divide the United States into standard time zones corresponding to timetables set by the transcontinental railroads. At noon in New York City, the bells of Saint Paul’s Church tolled. Ten minutes later, several blocks away, the bells of Trinity Church on Wall St. tolled noon Eastern Standard Time, 11:00AM Central Time, 10:00AM Mountain Time and 9:00AM Pacific Time. And so it has been ever since.

1902- THE TEDDY BEAR BORN-The Washington Evening Star published a story of how President Teddy Roosevelt while hunting couldn't bring himself to shoot a grizzly bear cub. Cartoonist Cliff Berryman illustrated the incident with one of his signature “dingbat” bear cubs in a gesture of “oh no!” Brooklyn toymaker Morris Mitchcom sewed a doll from the illustration in the newspaper and sent the first one to the White House.

1903- The Hay-Buneau-Varilla Treaty signed, giving the U.S. permission to dig a canal in Panama. When Nicaragua wanted too much money for the canal zone, President Roosevelt backed a revolution that created the nation of Panama. Such a deal!

1914- SABOTAGE - A secret message was sent out by Imperial German Naval Command to all diplomatic embassies to begin sabotage operations of war material being readied in America and Canada for shipment to England.
Bombs exploding in cargo ships and warehouses in New York, Boston and Baltimore became common. One incident called the “Black Tom” pier explosion detonated two million pounds of explosive on a Jersey City wharf. The blast cracked windows on Wall St. and damaged the arm of the Statue of Liberty.
The success of German spies in the U.S. before America's entry into World War I sparked the buildup of a little known government office called the F.B.I. and the strict domestic counterintelligence work done in World War II.

1928- HAPPY BIRTHDAY MICKEY MOUSE- At Universal’s Colony Theater in New York, Walt Disney’s cartoon "Steamboat Willie" debuted before a movie called Gang War. The first major sound cartoon success and the official birth of Mickey Mouse. Two earlier silent Mickey's had been done, but when Walt saw Jolson speak in the Jazz Singer, he held those two back so the sound experiment could go ahead.

1942-The KEYES RAID- The British army in North Africa had had enough of their German adversary Rommel the Desert Fox, so they sent a suicide commando mission to the Afrika Korps HQ just to kill him. Desert warfare was so porous the front lines were virtually non-existent. Unfortunately, Rommel was far away in Rome the night 50 British and Australian commandos shot up his offices.

1953- Singer Frank Sinatra had been having trouble with his sputtering career and his crumbling marriage to screen sex goddess Ava Gardner. This day songwriter Jimmy Van Heusen found Old Blue Eyes on his bathroom floor with his wrists slashed. Heusen bound his wounds then called his agent rather than the police. Sinatra recovered and soon his career revived and he had a new marriage. His subsequent rough use of women afterwards, calling them “broads” and using and discarding them, may have come as a reaction to his rough treatment in the soft hands of La Gardner.

1963-The first push button telephones go into service. By 1980 they pretty much replaced the rotary dial phones.

1964- In a public statement to the press, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover called Dr. Martin Luther King “The most notorious liar in the country!” This in response to the criticism Dr. King made that the FBI wasn’t trying hard enough to track down the murderers of civil rights workers. Hoover always believed Dr. King and the whole NAACP were dangerous communists.

1970- At the Lakeside School in Seattle, a young kid named Bill Gates was first shown computer programming.

1978- JONESTOWN- After visiting U.S. congressman Leo Ryan and his party were murdered, 912 American members of the Rev. Jim Jones cult in Jonestown Guiana commit suicide, many drinking from tubs of Kool Aid, spiked with cyanide.

1985- Bill Watterson’s comic strip Calvin & Hobbs debuted.

1988- Disney’s Oliver & Company released.
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Question: What does it mean to be a prevaricator?

Answer: One who evades telling the truth by dissembling or changing the subject.


Nov 17, 2017
November 17th, 2017

Question: What does it mean to be a prevaricator?

Question: What famous modern American franchise store is named for a character in a XIX Century novel?
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History for 11/17/2017
Birthdays: Roman Emperor Vespasian 9 A.D, Il Bronzino, August Ferdinand Moebius-1790 the inventor of the Moebius Strip. General Bernard Montgomery, Rock Hudson- real name Roy Sherer, Peter Cook, Lorne Michaels, Isamu Noguchi, Lauren Hutton, Tom Seaver, Gordon Lightfoot, Les Clark, Lee Strassberg, Shelby Foote, Sophie Marceau, Martin Scorcese is 75, Danny deVito is 73

395- Death of the Roman Emperor Valentinian.

1796- Russian Czarina Catherine the Great died at 67 years old of a stroke on the toilet, not crushed by trying to have sex with a horse, as some scandalous rumors alleged.

1800- Following President Adams from their cozy homes in Philadelphia, Congress sulkily convenes for the first time in the half-finished Congress in the new Federal City. It was already being called Washington City D.C.. It was still mostly a damp muddy Virginia swamp. The only buildings up in operation were Congress, the Presidents Mansion and Conrads Tavern.
Many complained that city planners Pierre L’Enfant and Benjamin Banocker had made the main avenues too big, that there will never be enough carriages and wagons to fill these roads. This first Congressional session couldn’t accomplish much, because there were not enough members present to make a quorum.

1839- Oberto premiered, an opera written by a new composer named Guisseppi Verdi. The great composer would go on to write Rigoletto, Aida and La Traviata.

1853- San Francisco passed a law to put up street signs at the intersections of major streets.

1858- A Pennsylvania businessman named William Larimer founded a new town at the foot of the Rockies called Denver.

1869- The Suez Canal opened. The opera "Aida" was commissioned to be premiered for this occasion but Verdi missed his deadline by ten years.

1875- Russian psychic Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott found the American Theosophical Society.

1876- Peter Tchaikovsky’s musical rhapsody the Marche Slav premiered.

1882- The Chinese Exclusion Treaty signed in Peking between the United States and the Chinese Empress Zhaou Zhi. This was the first of a series of pacts attempting to limit Asian immigration to the U.S.. In cities on the Pacific coast during the depression of the 1870’s violence against Chinese workers was sadly common. So many died building the Southern Pacific Railroad that the term “You Don’t Have a Chinaman’s Chance” was coined to mean the odds were against you. San Francisco writer Ambrose Bierce acerbically observed: A Chinese woman was recently found murdered on a street in San Francisco. She had done no crime but was merely the victim of Galloping Christianity. Barbaric acts like these mar the fine American tradition of Religious Intolerance.”

1891- Polish pianist Ignaz Paderewski made his American debut at Carnegie Hall. Paderewski created the cliché image of the temperamental classical musician with long flowing hair combed straight back. Classical music became known as longhair music.

1926- The Chicago Black Hawks played their first game,
beating the Toronto St. Pats 4-1.

1933- The Marx Bros classic Duck Soup premiered.

1934- LBJ marries LadyBird . For you born after the 60's, President Lyndon Baines Johnson married Claudia Alta Taylor whom he nicknamed LadyBird Johnson. Their daughters were LucyBird and LindaBird, so everyone in the family had the initials LBJ.

1941- Ernst Udet was a top World War I flying ace who was convinced by Herman Goring to help build the Nazis Luftwaffe. He was responsible for developing the Stuka dive bomber and it’s screaming vertical attack. But his conscience was troubled. One of the WWI Knights of the Air, he became depressed by the terror bombing of civilians and genocide his inventions were being used for. Sinking into drink and drugs, he finally shot himself. His last dinner that night he spoke of his adventures as a young ace with Von Richtofen the Red Baron, interspersing it with “Ahh, but we were decent men then…”

1941- US ambassador to Tokyo Joseph Grew cabled Washington DC that he had heard disturbing rumors that the Japanese military was planning to attack Pearl Harbor.

1959- The DeBeers mining company of South Africa announced the invention of synthetic diamonds.

1965- Battle of Ia Drang ends. The first large battle fought between North Vietnamese regulars and U.S. combat troops. The first battle fought with helicopters. Although the Vietnamese forces were defeated, it told their generals that their system was working of moving down the Ho Chi Minh trail through neutral Laos and Cambodia then crossing into South Vietnam.

1968- THE HEIDI GAME- NBC was broadcasting a football game between the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders. The game was running late and would interfere with the broadcast of the movie "Heidi". The network heads felt with the Jets leading 32-29 with 65 seconds left, why disappoint the kiddies? So they pre-empted the rest of the game to start the movie. Oakland won 43-32 in a miracle comeback scoring the final touchdown in the final nine seconds. The embarrassed programmers had to answer nationwide firestorm of complaints from outraged football fans. So to this day on television, no matter how dull a football game is, it is seen to its very end.

1973- In a televised press conference about the expanding Watergate Scandal held at Walt Disney World, President Richard Nixon uttered the famous phrase:” People want to know if their president is a crook, well, I am not a crook!”

1978- This night, our world was rocked by a disturbance in The Force more powerful than the destruction of Alderon, It was "The Star Wars Holiday Special", a two-hour comedy variety show on CBS, with Harrison Ford, Beatrice Arthur and Nelvana’s animated cartoon.

1988- Benazir Bhutto elected Prime Minister of Pakistan.

1989- Don Bluth's animated film All Dogs Go to Heaven premiered.

1993- US Congress voted for the free trade, job-killing bill called NAFTA.

1994- The Sony Corporation posted a $2.7 billion dollar loss from it’s first year owning a Hollywood movie studio. Yet despite a lot of industry jokes ( “What’s the difference between Sony Pictures and the Titanic?-answer: The Titanic had entertainment.”) By 1996 the studio was on top with blockbusters like “Men in Black”

2002- Premiere of Disney’s Treasure Planet.
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Question: What famous modern American franchise store is named for a character in a XIX Century novel?

Answer: Starbucks. Named for the first mate of the Pequod in the novel Moby Dick. Mr Starbuck loved his coffee.


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