Dec 14, 2014 sun
December 14th, 2014

Question: When people talk on and on at length, people say you drone on. Why?

Yesterday’s Question Answered Below: What does it mean when you are didactic?
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History for 12/14/2014
Birthdays: 1553-King Henry IV of Navarre*, Tycho Brahe, Nostradamus -Michel de Notre Dame-1503, English King George VI-1895, Spike Jones the bandleader, Morey Amsterdam, Charlie Rich, Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, Lee Remick, Patty Duke, Adult film star Ginger Lynn, Clark Terry- trumpeter. Cecil Pay, Saxophonist. Chanteuse Jane Birkin "Je t'aime moi non plus" is 67.

*Henry of Navarre 1555-1610 was one of Frances most beloved kings. When he was born his father Duke Antoine du Bourbon rubbed garlic on his lips and gave him wine to be strong. One of Frances horniest kings, even as an infant, his suckling dried up 8 wet nurses!

Welcome to the first day of what is referred to as the HALCYON DAYS. The seven days prior to and after the Winter Solstice, a time of tranquility and peace. Supposedly, no storms happen. In 1867 Walt Whitman wrote a poem about the Halycon Days in "Leaves of Grass", using it as a metaphor for the time in the winter of one's life, when contentment replaces the "turbulent passions" of younger years.

1575- The Parliament of the Polish Commonwealth had a strange system of electing foreign princes to be their king. This day they invited Transylvanian Duke Stefan Bathory to come be king. Bathory turned out to be an okay king. He destroyed Russian Czar Ivan the Terrible’s armies in battle, frustrating his efforts to gain access to Western trade.

1776-After chasing George Washington's miserable little rebel army from New York to Philadelphia, British General Lord William Howe announced the customary Christmas truce and beds his army down for the winter. His subordinate Lord Percy wrote home:” It’s just about over with those people. We shall be home shortly.” Back in occupied New York City, Lord Howe took as a mistress the wife of his Boston superintendent of prisons a Mr. Loring, who grew rich enough on army contracts to not mind. A rebel poem of the time said: "Sir William He, snug as a Flea, lay in his bed a Snorring. Nor thought of Harm, as he lay Warm, in bed with Mrs......"

1782- British troops evacuate Charleston South Carolina, in preparation for the final peace treaty ending the American Revolution.

1798-David Wilkinson of Rhode Island patented a machine that made the new inventions metal screws, nuts and bolts.

1799- GEORGE WASHINGTON DIED. 67 year old Washington had retired to Mount Vernon after his last presidential term in 1796. On Dec. 12th he went riding five hours during a sleet storm and caught the flu. Another theory was a viral infection of the epiglottis.
He might still have survived had it not been for modern medicine. Doctors bled him of four pints of blood, while applying leeches, mustard sulfur packs and laxatives to purge him of the ill humors. He developed pneumonia and died swiftly. Because coma was so little understood, people had a dread of premature burial. Washington left instructions that his body be left out several days to make sure he was dead before being sealed in a tomb. After assurances put his mind at ease his last words were:" Tis well." No priests or religious last rites were performed. Washington turned away a priest who offered.

The US government wanted to place his tomb at the center of the planned dome in the capitol building, but Washington’s wish was to be in a simple tomb in Mt. Vernon. He also freed all his 137 slaves and sent them each off with a pension.

1819- Alabama was separated out from Mississippi territory and made a new state. Under Spanish rule Alabama was known as West Florida.

1861- Albert the Prince Consort, husband of Queen Victoria, died at 42. Even though he died of typhoid fever, which was common in those times, Victoria blamed her son Bertie (Edward VII)'s sexual escapades as causing her beloved husband's heartbreak. One of Albert’s last acts was to tone down the diplomatic response to the Trent Affair, which avoided war with the United States.

Victoria wore mourning for the rest of her long life. She withdrew from formal politics for 12 years. She had Albert's rooms at Balmoral and Osborne kept like he was still there. Every single night for 40 years the servants would lay out his clothes and a basin of warm water like for some invisible user. She kept the cast of his hand on her night table at night so she could reach out to touch it for reassurance. When she died in 1901 after reigning 64 years her last words were "Albert..."

1863- Battle of Bean’s Station. Confederates in Tennessee defeated Yankees.

1871- Verdi's opera "Aida" debuts in Cairo.

1894- Socialist union leader Eugene Debs was sentenced to six months in jail for organizing sympathy actions for the railroad workers striking the Pullman company. Debs young lawyer handling his first case was Clarence Darrow.

1901- The first Ping-Pong tournament held in London.

1911- Norwegian explorer Roald Ammundsen and four others first reached the South Pole, winning the race against Captain Robert Falcon Scott.

1913- Cartoonist Johnny Gruelle entertained his dying daughter by making up stories involving her rag dollies. After her passing, friends urged Gruelle to publish them. The RAGGEDY ANN & ANDY stories are born.

1924- Ottorino Respighi ‘s stirring rhapsody the Pines of Rome premiered.

1927- Charles Lindbergh does one last flight with his famous monoplane the Spirit of Saint Louis, from Washington to Mexico City. This is at the request of American Ambassador Dwight Murrow who wanted to improve Mexican-American relations. Lindbergh would not only improve relations but also marry Murrow's daughter Anne. To make the flight a challenge Lindbergh took off at night in a rainstorm to prove air travel was safe. The President of Mexico and 150,000 people greeted him in Mexico City.

When flying he noticed many Mexican towns had a sign named 'Caballeros' in their railroad stations. He reasoned Caballeros must be a popular name for a town.

1934- March of the Wooden Soldiers, the Hal Roach version of Babes in Toyland with Laurel & Hardy opened.

1944- Hollywood starlet Lupe Velez, the "Mexican Spitfire' committed suicide. She had taken an overdose of sleeping pills and laid herself out in a beautiful negligee of her own design to be found radiant in repose. But instead of dying immediately, the pills made her sick and she was found dead with her head in the toilet. In her prime she counted Gary Cooper, Anthony Quinn and Johnny Weissmuller among her lovers. When Weissmuller was filming 'Tarzan' the studio complained to her that their lovemaking was so...err.. athletic? exhuberant?....that she was leaving fingernail scratch marks all over his back. The makeup department complained of all the effort to cover them.

1944- The film National Velvet premiered, making a star out of 12 year old Elizabeth Taylor.

1945- Nazis camp guard Josef Brodsky “The Beast of Belsen”, was hanged .

1947- The National Association of Stock Car Racing or NASCAR formed.

1953- Young pitcher Sandy Koufax was signed by the Dodgers. He became one of their most famous pitchers of all time.

1957- Hanna Barbera's first TV cartoon "Ruff and Ready" premieres.

1962- Mariner II reached the planet Venus. The first manmade probe to reach another planet. Although it stopped working, it’s still up there in orbit between Venus and Mercury.

1967- Greek generals overthrow King Constantine II and rule by junta led by General George Papadapolos.

1970- George Harrison’s single My Sweet Lord went gold.

1972-THE LAST MAN LEAVES THE MOON. Apollo 17 blasts off. We all remember the first man on the moon, but do you remember the last? Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt. President Nixon annoyed NASA by saying he doubted that men would return to the moon in the Twentieth Century, but he was right.

1977- DISCO! The movie Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta and the music of the Bee Gees make the Disco dancing scene a national craze.

1979- STUDIO 54 RAIDED- The Internal Revenue Service busted the worlds most notorious disco club. Formerly the hangout of Andy Warhol, Bianca Jagger, Truman Capote and other “Beautiful People”, now the Feds were on to them. The IRS seized doctored account books, cocaine and undeclared cash, landing the owners in jail and bringing the celebrity playlands days to an end.

1983- Disney Studio released the short film Frankenweenie, done by a young artist named Tim Burton.

2012- Emotionally disturbed man Adam Lanza shot up a kindergarten school in Newtown Conn, killing 27 including his mother and 20 children.
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Yesterday’s Question: What does it mean when you are didactic?

Answer: Someone fond of teaching others or telling stories with an intended message.


Dec. 13, 2014 sat
December 13th, 2014

Question: What does it mean when you are didactic?

Yesterday’s Question Answered Below: What was the name of the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten?
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History for 12/13/2014
Birthdays: Heinrich Heine, Mary Todd Lincoln, Dick Van Dyke is 88, Mike Mosley, Darryl Zanuck Jr., George Schulz, Christopher Plummer is 85, Steve Buscemi is 57, Jamie Fox is 45, Lynn Holly Johnson, Wendy Malick, Taylor Swift is 25.

Today is the Feast of Saint Lucy, who was ordered by the Romans to be raped in a brothel, set on fire, stabbed to death, and to stop men saying how beautiful her eyes were, she ripped them out and handed them over on a plate. But they miraculously grew back. So St. Lucy is the patron saint of opticians.

863- Duke Baldwin Iron Arm married Lady Judith du Kales.

1250 -Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II "Stupor Mundi" the Wonder of the World, his spirit broken by endless quarrels with the Pope and rebellious Italian city states, expired at age 52. Frederick had tried to re-form back the old Roman Empire but only succeeded in making Italy and Germany more divided than ever. Meanwhile France, England and Spain were developing into centralized nation states. The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation or the 1st Reich, was never as powerful again.

1264-THE HOUSE OF COMMONS- Victorious rebel English Earl Simon de Monfort called for a meeting in Westminster of a Parliament of all nobles, clergy and - common folk of the realm. It's probably the first time since the ancient Roman republic anybody had asked the common people their opinion about anything. King Henry III and Prince Edward Longshanks couldn't argue because Simon had them locked up in the Tower. To make sure Earl Simon had bishops pronounce the most fearful oaths of excommunication on anyone who dared to undo this creation. So even after Longshanks escaped and had DeMonfort chopped into mincemeat, the House of Commons remained.

1543-THE COUNCIL OF TRENT convenes- Officially called the XIX Ecumenical Council, this conference launched the Catholic Counter-Reformation against the Protestant reformation.

1642- Dutch explorer Abel Tasman in the Pacific discovered a big island near Australia and named it for the Dutch province of Zeeland, so New Zealand. He also found another island and called it Van Deimans Land, but it was later named in his honor as Tasmania.

1672- Polish King Jan Cazimir died a monk in Paris. He was king during a period of large wars with Russia, the Cossacks of the Ukraine, Turkey and Sweden. But he was pacific by nature. One saying was “the only battles Jan Cazimir ever saw were woven in his Dutch carpets!”

1769- Dartmouth College founded.

1775- the U.S. National Guard formed.

1862-BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG- Union General Ambrose Burnside (who created the men’s fashion-"sideburns") made his men frontal attack uphill an impregnable Confederate position of concentrated fire that " a chicken couldn't live through."
The massed regiments of bluecoats were mowed down wave after wave in one of the worst disasters in U.S. Army history. The New York Fighting 69th, the all Irish brigade, fell dead in even rows shielding their eyes from the bullets as though they were rain. They shouted “Faugh au Ballagh !” Gaelic for “Clear the Way!” They left 53% of their men dead on the field. In all 13,000 Yankees died to a mere handful of rebels.
One rebel general, sickened by the stupidity of it all, said: "This ain't war, it's just plain murder." After the defeat, Burnside rode past some of his men, a kissass major tried shouting "Three cheers for the General!" and was met with stony silence.

1872- The town council of Abilene, Kansas fired Wild Bill Hickok as sheriff. They said he was more violent than most of the criminals he arrested.

1895- Gustav Mahlers 2nd Symphony “Resurrection” premiered.

1928- Leopold Damrosch conducted the premiere of George Gershwin's -"An American in Paris."

1936- At the urging of New Yorker editor Harold Ross to find a better line of work, actor Dave Chasen opened Chasen's restaurant in Beverly Hills, which catered to Hollywood stars for 60 years. It is the restaurant where Leopold Stokowski was introduced to Walt Disney and as a result they conceived "Fantasia". Humphrey Bogart, John Huston and Lauren Bacall met upstairs to discuss the Blacklist of 1947. Elizabeth Taylor ordered Chasen’s chili flown out to Rome so she could eat it on the set of Cleopatra. The restaurant closed in 1995 because the Chasen family wanted to cash in on the real estate. Today it’s a supermarket.

1937- THE RAPE OF NANKING- The Japanese army captured the Nationalist capitol of China. The Japanese generals let their soldiers run amok for three weeks, raping and murdering civilians by the thousands. .Japanese who refused to kill the innocent were punished by their officers. Typical was two officers who held a contest to see who could behead more Chinese with their samurai swords. The winner killed 106 and the contest was reported in Tokyo newspapers as a sporting event.
When the commanding General Matsui returned from convalescent leave he was horrified and ordered a stop. That got him recalled home in disgrace. The unprecedented brutality shocked the world, remember the further horrors of World War II were still years in the future.

1937-THE GOOD NAZI- During the Rape of Nanking, in an ironic twist, the women and children of the foreign delegations were protected from the rampaging Japanese soldiers by a German businessman Johann Robbe, who guarded the door in his Nazi party uniform and swastika armband. He took in desperate Chinese and saved thousands. Robbe had lived his entire life in China, so when it was suggested to him, he joined the Nazi party not knowing anything about it. Robbe went home to Berlin and tried lodge a complaint with Adolf Hitler! The Gestapo threatened him with arrest if he didn’t shut up.

Then after World War II, Johan Robbe was arrested by Allied authorities for being a Nazi! By 1947 he and his family were reduced to eating soup from nettles and grass to survive. Then a huge package was delivered of food and money. It was a subscription from the People of Nanking, to express their thanks for his humanity.

1939- Battle of the River Platte- The German pocket battleship Graff Spee battled with several British cruisers near the Argentine coastline. The German then put into the neutral port of Montevideo for repairs.
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1940- Fleischer Popeye cartoon "Eugene the Jeep" .The Thimble Theater character would give its name to the new army General Purpose vehicle- G.P. or "Jeep".

1942- In the rubble choked streets of Stalingrad, Soviet sniper Tanya Chernova was making her way to Nazi headquarters with instructions to kill their commander Field Marshal Friedrich von Paulus. But on the way a comrade stepped on a mine and the explosion tore through her abdomen. She survived, but her participation in the war was over. An attractive blonde former ballerina, she began the war as a guerrilla in the Ukraine, and was trained by supersniper Vasily Zaistzev. She called the Germans she had killed “broken sticks” because she refused to acknowledge their humanity. By the time this explosion ended her military career Tanya had 80 broken sticks to her record. She was 20 years old.

1951- One of the legendary Hollywood producers was Walter Wanger- starting in 1921 his films included The Sheik, Stagecoach, Queen Christina, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Silk Stockings and Cleopatra. His wife was beautiful starlet Joan Bennett, but at this time she had taken a lover. On this day Wanger surprised Hollywood by pulling out a gun and shooting his wife's lover in the nads right in the MCA studio parking lot. In true Hollywood fashion Wanger got off, sentenced to just a few months in an honor ranchero compound and was soon back to work. Contributors to pay his legal fees included the Jack Warner, Walt Disney and Sam Goldwyn. The boyfriend, Jennings Lang, recovered and later became an executive producer of comedies like House Calls. After all, who needs balls to be a producer?

1961- Jimmy Dean’s folk ballad Big Bad John went to #1 of the country charts. Later Dean had his own TV variety show and started Jimmy Dean’s Pure Pork Sausage Company.

1969- Arlo Guthrie’s hit song Alice’s Restaurant released.

1971- Disney’s film Bedknobs and Broom Sticks opened.

1978- The US tried to introduce silver dollar coins. The first Susan B. Anthony dollars issued. They looked too much like quarters so they didn’t catch on.

1981- Communist Polish Gov't under General Jaruszelski declared martial law and outlaws Solidarity, the Polish Labor Organization. The secret police, the ZOMO's started arresting all the ringleaders. Jaruszelski later claimed the liberal political climate was getting so out of hand that he had to crack down or the Soviet Union would invade like they did to Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Hungary in 1956. People showed their quiet resistance by wearing a small transistor (i.e. resistor) on their lapel. Also popular was a button that from a distance looked like the graphic "Solidarity" Logo but up close spelled out: "WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT ?"

1996- In Terry Gilliams’ sci-fi apocalypse epic the Plague of the 12 Monkeys was unleashed today, a virus that killed 4/5ths of the world’s population and drove the remainder underground.

2002-Cardinal Bernard Law resigned in disgrace. The Primate of Boston, the largest Roman Catholic diocese in the United States. Cardinal Law had spent years covering for priests who molested children. He even protected a priest who was registered in the Man-Boy Love Society. Cardinal Law was the highest ranking Catholic to step down from popular pressure. He was recalled to Rome to be prior of Santa Maria Maggiore.

2003-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was pulled out of a hiding hole and captured by U.S. forces near his hometown of Tikrit.
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Yesterday’s Question: What was the name of the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten?

Answer: Queen Nefertiti.


Dec 12, 2014 Fri.
December 12th, 2014

Question: What was the name of the wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: In George Washington’s time, they called it the Great Northern River. What do we call it today?
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History for 12/12/14
Birthdays: Frank Sinatra, Roman Emperor Alexander Severus, Edvard Munch, Gustav Flaubert, Auguste Rodin, Cherokee Confederate General Stand Watie, John Jay, Edward G. Robinson, Field Marshal Karl Von Rundstedt-the Black Knight of Germany, NY Mayor Ed Koch, Zack Mosley –the cartoonist who drew “Smilin' Jack", Connie Francis, Dionne Warwick, Cathy Rigby, Tracy Austin, Bill Nighy is 64, Tom Wilkerson is 66, Jennifer Connelly is 44

639 A.D. Moslem-Arab armies of the Caliph Omar invade Egypt. Egypt at the time was a province of the Byzantine Empire and it's native church The Coptic Rite was persecuted by them as a heresy. So rather than put up with any more harassment the Egyptians opened their gates to the advancing Arabs and the province was overrun in short order.

1524- Pope Clement VII the Medici Fox, steered a dangerous policy to keep the Germans and French from taking over Italy. The previous year he signed a secret treaty with Germany against France, today he signed a secret treaty with France against Germany. This policy blew up in his face. The German army of Charles V stormed Rome and locked up the Pope in 1527. Italy was ravaged by wars for the rest of the century.

1653- Puritan General Oliver Cromwell, having executed King Charles I, declares himself Lord Protector of England and rules Britain as a military dictator. He had all the symbols of monarchy including the crown jewels destroyed. Including the ancient Iron Crown of Alfred the Great. This is why England's crown jewels date from the 1660’s, after Cromwell. Scotland's crown jewels were smuggled out of Edinburgh Castle ahead of Cromwell's troops in a berry basket.

1792- The Bank of the United States was set up in Philadelphia on the model of the Bank of England. President Andrew Jackson dismantled the Bank in 1832 and U.S. finances swung wildly in the hands of a few tycoons like Astor and Morgan until the Federal Reserve was set up in 1913.

1784- George Washington bid a final farewell to his friend the Marquis of Lafayette. The young little aristocrat and the tall somber Virginian had become so fond of one another they were like father and son. Lafayette left for France and they never saw each other again. When Lafayette returned to America in 1825, Washington was long dead.

1793-WASHINGTON THE SLAVEMASTER- The most concrete evidence we have that George Washington was troubled about owning slaves. This day George Washington wrote a friend in England about his plan to carve up his Mt. Vernon estate into small lots and rent them out to immigrant English tenant farmers, so he could liberate his slaves. He asked his British correspondent to keep his plan a secret and destroy this note after reading it.
He never went ahead with his plan. After he and Martha were both dead, Washington’s will freed all 137 of his slaves and sent each off with a cash pension. Compare that to Thomas Jefferson, who freed 6 out of 300 when he died, and James Madison, author of the Bill of Rights, who freed none.

1897-The Katzenjammer Kids comic strip by Rudolph Dirks appears. The first comic where characters spoke in word balloons. The adventures of Hans & Fritz was so popular a rival Hearst newspaper started an imitation called the Captain & the Kids, leading to the first artistic plagiarism lawsuit. Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas had a problem whenever they bought the American newspapers for their Paris salon, because Picasso and Fernand Oliver would fight over who got to read the Katzenjammer Kids first.

1899- George Grant of Boston invented the Golf Tee.

1900- U.S. STEEL- At a dinner party Charles Schwab proposed a steel trust company to corner the steel market, uniting the resources of Andrew Carnegie, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and John "Bet a Million" Taylor. U.S. Steel is born.

1901-First transatlantic wireless signal received by Guglielmo Marconi. This finally ended the frustrating hoopla over laying transatlantic telegraph cables and have them break down almost constantly since the 1850s. The pioneers of radio broadcasting like Armstrong, Lee Deforrest and David Sarnoff got their start working for the Marconi Wireless Company.

1922- Nickolai Lenin suffered the first of a series of strokes that left him too sick to work. He ruled Soviet Russia for one more year as a figurehead while his true state of health was concealed from the public. Top Communist officials like Trotsky and Stalin now fought for power.

1925- The world’s first Motel opened. Arthur Heinman opened the Milestone Motel in San Luis Obispo California. Motel was a contraction of Motor-Hotel.

1925- Cossack officer Rezah Pahlavi deposed the last Qajar Shah and becomes Shah of Persia, which would shortly change its name to Iran.

1926- Polish general Josef Pilsudski seized power in Warsaw. Sending troops to surround the Sejm- Parliament, he strode in and told the astounded politicians:” I sh*t on all of you! I am going to treat you like children because that is how you want to be treated.” He ruled as dictator until his death in 1935.

1936- After the abdication of Edward VIII, his younger brother Albert was proclaimed King George VI.

1937- During their war in China Japanese dive bombers strafed and sank the neutral U.S. gunboat Panay in the Yangtse River. The Japanese Government apologized and paid $2.2 million in reparations.

1941- In the emergency after Pearl Harbor the U.S. Army ordered all peacetime airliners and pilots commandeered into military service. Federal customs authorities in the port of New York also seized the worlds largest luxury ocean liner, The French S.S Normandie, for “protective custody”. Remember at this time France was an occupied part of the Third Reich.

1947- The United Mine Workers under John L. Lewis pull out of the AF of L. The historic difference was the American Federation of Labor (AFL) was made up of skilled technical workers and artisans. The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) was made up of more unskilled assembly-line type folks.

1952- The first Screen Actors Guild Strike. President Walter Pidgeon -Dr. Morbius in Forbidden Planet- had the movie stars hit the bricks to win television and commercial residuals. The final deals were settled by then SAG president Ronald Reagan in 1960. Ronnie compromised with the studio heads (who later backed his bid for the governorship of California) that only residuals for films after 1955 would be paid.

Actors who made their big hits in the 30's and 40s like Laurel and Hardy, the Marx Brothers, and The Little Rascals were left out. Mickey Rooney, who's Andy Hardy movies were the box office champs of the mid-1940's put it mildly: "Reagan screwed me !!"

1955- the first hovercraft design patented. It wasn't built and launched until 1959.

1963- Kenya under Njomo Kenyatta declared independence from Britain.

1975- Sarah Jane Moore pleaded guilty to trying to assassinate President Gerald Ford.

1980- The song “Whip It” by Devo won a gold record.

1991-Actor Richard Gere married supermodel Cindy Crawford.

2000- THE SUPREME COURT PICKED THE PRESIDENT. In the tightest presidential election since 1877, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled George W. Bush won over Vice President Al Gore. They stated that although there may have been irregularities in the vote counting in the decisive state of Florida, it was too late and pointless to continue the recount, so they were suspending all further appeals. Al Gore and the Democrats quickly caved in and squelched attempts by African-American congressmen to point out voter discrimination.
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Yesterday’s Question: In George Washington’s time, they called it the Great Northern River. What do we call it today?

Answer: The Hudson River.


Dec 11, 2014
December 11th, 2014

Question: In George Washington’s time, they called it the Great Northern River. What do we call it today?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: Pharaoh Amenhotep IV was the pharaoh who tried to change the religion of Egypt to monotheism. Worship of the sun god Aton. In so doing, he changed his name. What is Amenhotep IV better known as..?
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History for 12/11/2014
Birthdays: Sir David Brewster,1781- inventor of the kaleidoscope, Fiorello LaGuardia, Robert Koch, conqueror of tuberculosis, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Carlo Ponti, Gilbert Roland, Big Mama Mabel Thornton, Vampira, Jean Marais, Jean Louis Tritignant, Tom Hayden, Jermaine Jackson, McCoy Tyner- John Coltrane's pianist, Brenda Lee, Rita Moreno is 83, Teri Garr is 67, Mos Def is 41, Mo’nique is 47

493 AD.- Today is the feast of Greek Saint Simon Stylites the greatest of all the religious hermits known as pillar-sitters. He died at the age of 85 after having sat on top of a solitary stone column for 35 years. He only descended twice, once to chastise the Byzantine Emperor. The Patriarch of Constantinople even had to be hoisted up by ropes and pulleys to ordain him a priest.

711AD- death of Byzantine Emperor Justinian II Rhino-Nose. Gotta love that nickname.

1718- After many wars Swedish King Charles XII the "Madman of the North" was shot and killed by a Danish sergeant while peeping over a trench parapet. He was a brilliant general but had a bad habit of getting too close to the action for a look. The day before his great battle at Poltava with Russian Czar Peter the Great, Charles was wounded, and had to direct the battle from a stretcher. He lost.

1785-French artist Jean Baptiste Greuze was well known for making popular paintings of simple scenes like Young Girl Weeping For Her Dead Bird. This day he went to the Paris police prefect and accused his wife Gabriele Babuti of “Persistently receiving lovers into his home over his protests, stealing large sums of his money, and trying to batter in his head with a chamber pot.” He was granted a legal separation.

1793- Last July when the French Revolutionary Convention heard of the assassination of their great radical leader Jean Paul Marat one delegate called out “David ! We Need You!” This day Jacques David unveiled his painting THE DEATH OF MARAT for the first time.

1816- Indiana admitted to the union.

1882- The Bijou Theater in Boston presented Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe in the first show completely illuminated by electric light bulbs.

1926- Josephine Baker performed her banana dance in Amsterdam.

1927- THE LADY VANISHES- 35 year old mystery writer Agatha Christie caused a mystery herself when she disappeared, leaving her car abandoned by a local brook. The search for the body sensationalized the London press, even knocking the death of Eduard Manet off the front page. Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle employed the first use of a police psychic. Finally after a week Mrs Christie turned up at a health spa in Yorkshire. She was depressed when she earned her husband Sir Archibald Christie of the Guards was having an affair with a younger lady. She ran off and registered in the hotel using her younger rivals name as her alias- Mrs Neal.

1929- Frenchman Charles Cros patented a searchlight he declared he would use to signal civilizations on Mars and Venus. Nobody's returned the call yet.

1936- In a dramatic speech broadcast on radio British King Edward VIII abdicated his throne to be with "The Woman I Love" - to marry the American divorcee' Wallace Simpson. He had been king of the British Empire for less than a year. His brother George became George VI, the father of the present Elizabeth II. Edward and Wallace later became Duke and Duchess of Windsor and lived outside of England for the rest of their lives.
The Nazis had planned after they had conquered England to put Edward back on the throne as a puppet. Edward Windsor never quite dismissed the rumors that he secretly sympathized with Nazi ideology and while governor of Bermuda had many parties and dinners with socialites who were known Nazi agents.

1941- Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declared war on the United States, honoring their Tripartite axis pact with Japan. Hermann Goering protested to Hitler that the Japanese had so far not been of any help to them, they refused to declare war on Russia. Why invite another mighty foe? Hitler sniffed:’ The Americans will be our enemies eventually, why wait?”

1941- The hopelessly isolated little group of Marines on Wake Island repulsed a Japanese naval task force with heavy casualties. They played possum until the invasion fleet got in very close then hammered them with 16 inch naval shore batteries. To a U.S. still reeling from the shock of the Pearl Harbor attack, the nation was encouraged by the gutsy request broadcast from tiny Wake : "Send us more Japs!"

1941- Gone With The Wind producer David Selznick pitched a movie version of Hitler’s book Mein Kampf to be directed by Alfred Hitchcock and written by Ben Hecht. Mercifully for moviegoers, the idea was soon dropped.

1946- UNICEF formed.

1950-THE CHOISIN FEW- During the Korean War the last remnants of the US First Marine Division completed their terrible retreat from the Chosin Resevoir. In subzero conditions they fought their way out of 5 encircling Red Chinese armies and brought out all of their wounded. Col. Chesty Puller, a veteran of Guadalcanal, exhorted his men “Remember you are First Marines, and all the Commies in Hell can’t stop you!”

1951- Yankee slugger Joe DiMaggio announced his retirement from baseball.

1957- Rock and Roll singer Jerry Lee Lewis secretly married his 13 year old cousin Myra Gail Brown, while still married to his second wife, who he divorced when the press broke the story the following April. The incident ruined his career. Great Balls of Fire!

1961- The first contingent of U.S. military advisers arrived in Vietnam.

1962-SAVE THE VILLAGE! Robert Moses was the famous engineer who crisscrossed New York City with bridges and high speed motorways. But many felt the imperious city-planner destroyed whole neighborhoods with little compassion for the inhabitants. Finally he set his sites on a roadway cutting right across Manhattan at Hudson Street to the Holland Tunnel, which would destroy historic Greenwich Village-houses once inhabited by Walt Whitman, Elizabeth Barret-Browning, Jacques Kerouac and Mark Twain. But Robert Moses plans were thwarted by an odd alliance of Beatniks, Little Italy Mafia dons, Chinatown merchants and various Village Bohemians lead by author Jane Jacobs. This day after successfully pleading their case the Mayor and the NY City Board of Estimate rejected Moses plan. The Village today remains a gloriously confused muddle of quaint streets.

1964- Soul music star Sam Cooke was shot to death in an argument with a lady who ran an L.A. motel he had brought his girlfriend to.( "Darling you send meee...")

1967- The Concorde SST passenger plane is unveiled in Toulouse. It was a joint venture between England and France. The American SST project was scrapped as too expensive.

1970- Walt Disney's the 'Aristocats' premiered.

1978- THE LUFTHANSA HEIST.- Some small time Brooklyn Mafiosi slipped into the Lufthansa cargo terminal at Kennedy Airport and stole $8 million in unmarked bills and jewelry, most from European money exchange booths. As the FBI moved in on the gang it’s members tended to wind up dead, thirteen bodies in all. The money was never recovered. The reputed mastermind, Jimmy the Gent Burke, died in prison on an unrelated murder charge in 1991. The incident was dramatized in the Martin Scorcese film “Goodfellas”.

1985- A Sacramento computer rental store owner named Hugh Scrutton became the first to get a mail bomb from the Unibomber. MIT advanced mathematics major Ted Kusczynski slowly became mentally unbalanced and blamed rampant technology for ruining the world. His campaign of mailing explosives terrorized the academic world for a decade until he was turned in by his own brother.

1997-150 nations sign the Kyoto Protocol, pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but not the United States or China, the worlds two largest polluters.

2008- Bernie Madoff was arrested for stock fraud. He was known as an A-list Wall St investor. In reality, he ran the largest Ponzi-scheme fraud in history. Madoff cheated clients out of $180 BILLION, more than the GNP of many nations. Hundred of investors as diverse as Steven Speilberg, Elliot Spitzer, The Shoah Foundation and his own temple got burned. Madoff’s son committed suicide and family members changed their names.

2009- Disney’s animated Princess and the Frog.
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Yesterday’s Question: Pharaoh Amenhotep IV was the pharaoh who tried to change the religion of Egypt to monotheism. Worship of the sun god Aton. In so doing, he changed his name. What is Amenhotep IV better known as..?

Answer: Akhenaten.


Dec 10, 2014
December 10th, 2014

Question: Pharaoh Amenhotep IV was the pharaoh who tried to change the religion of Egypt to monotheism. Worship of the sun god Aton. In so doing, he changed his name. What is Amenhotep IV better known as..?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: You all heard of DeSoto? He discovered DeSotoWater!’ (Groucho). No seriously, what did explorer Hernan DeSoto discover?
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History for 12/10/2014
Birthdays: English King Edward VII “Bertie”, Emile Dickinson, Ada Lovelace, E. H. Shepard the illustrator of Winnie the Pooh. Chet Huntley, Morton Gould, Victor McLaughlin, Dan Blocker, Tommy Kirk, Fionnula Flanagan, Kenneth Branaugh is 54, Dorothy Lamour, Susan Dey is 62, Michael Clarke Duncan, Rod Blagojevich

Happy World Freedom Day.

969AD- Byzantine Emperor Nicephorous II Phocas had no better administrator than John Tzimisces. But John was also the lover of Nicephorous’s wife Empress Theophano. This day she had Nicephorous assassinated. Theophano had earlier poisoned her own father-in-law Emperor Romanus II to help Nicephorous seize the throne. But now she was bored with him. To please the angry Greek Patriarch, John Tzmisces exiled Theophano to a convent and reigned as a pretty good emperor. But he too was poisoned, by Basil II the Bulgar Slayer. Believe it or not, this was a happy period in Byzantine history.

1041- Byzantine Michael IV the Paphlagonian died. Before his death he had his sickbed moved to the Monastery of Saint Demetrios and changed his golden robes for monks rags.

1198-The death of the Moorish philosopher Averroes.

1508- Pope Julius II formed a grand alliance to crush the Republic of Venice. Called the League of Cambrai, the Vatican, France, The German Emperor, Spain and Naples all pledged to destroy the Most Surene Republic. The Venetians fought back tenaciously, noblewomen patriotically pawning their jewels to pay the troops. After being attacked on all sides for 4 years the League of Cambrai finally broke up when Pope Julius decided he’s rather have fellow Italians for neighbors rather than foreigners after all. The Republic of Venice survived, but her status as a world power was broken. She lapsed into an elegant, pleasure-loving decline until absorbed into Italy by Napoleon in 1796.

1513- Former Florentine politician Niccolo Machiavelli was living in a small town after being thrown out of power and even twisted on a torture rack. Still missing his life in power, he declared today to a friend he was writing a book on political theory to present to the Medici duke of Florence. He hoped by doing so he’d be called back to office. It didn’t get him a job, but his book THE PRINCE became one of the great works of political philosophy, the handbook of unscrupulous politicians everywhere.

1518- Ulrich Zwingli was chosen to be the Gross Munster or chief vicar of the Swiss city of Zurich. Zwingli became a top leader of the Protestant Reformation like Martin Luther and John Calvin.

1520- Protestant reformer Martin Luther shows the Pope what he thinks of his Bull of Excommunication on him by burning it in public. Pope Leo’s command Exsurge Domine went up in smoke along with the Canons of Roman Church Law to the cheers of students.

1577- The Union of Brussels- The 17 provinces of the Netherlands and Belgium formalize their union. This is why Holland is also known as the United Provinces.

1607- Captain John Smith left the Jamestown camp with two men to find food. They were captured by the Indians who killed the other men and dragged Smith before chief Powhatan. He ordered Smith’s head to be placed on a flat stone and bashed in with a war club. But Powhatan’s favorite daughter Pocahontas threw herself over Smith and protected him. Smith could speak no Algonquin and the Indians no English and neither could sing any Broadway tunes. Was this an execution prevented or a ritual of admission into the tribe? Powhatan was known to extend his rule through dynastic alliances with other tribal leaders, and he was well aware of the white strangers, wiping out a Spanish attempt to land on his beach in 1600. Maybe this was his way of wanting to bring the white mans powers to his side. No one knows for sure. Smith didn’t write of this incident until back in England 14 years later.

1641- King Charles I issued a Royal Declaration ordering all Britons to conform to the practices of the Church of England, or else!. This Declaration was King Charles’ defiant answer to a list of demands called the Great Remonstrance given him ten days earlier that accused him of debasing the Protestant faith. This was a poke at all the Puritans, Pilgrims, Levellers, Anabaptists and Roundheads who were clamoring that the Anglican Church had gotten too Catholic-looking in it's rituals.

Indeed at the insistence of monarchs since Elizabeth the reformed English service had re-introduced crucifixes, communion plate and sulplice aprons for the priests. The declaration was one more provocation building the conflict that would soon break out as the English Civil War. When violence broke out the Puritans dragged out the Archbishop of Canterbury, Archbishop Laud and chopped his head off. Laud was seen as the instigator of this declaration and the Kings policy on religion and was branded as Laudism.

1672- New York colonies Royal Governor Sir Thomas Lovelace announced the establishment of a regular monthly mail delivery between New York and Boston.

1800- Congress debated a bill to build a mausoleum for George Washington to be placed in the center of the Congress. But Martha Washington cut off such efforts by citing George’s specific instructions that his remains not be turned into some kind of regal national shrine. He insisted on and still sleeps in his simple family tomb at Mt. Vernon.

1710-Battle of Villaviciosa- Phillip V of Spain defeats an Anglo-Portuguese invasion (no, not the Costa del Sol vacationers) and assures the throne for the Bourbon family.
his descendant is the present king Juan Carlos.

1817- Mississippi statehood.

1839- THE GREAT GAME- A large British army left the Kashmir to invade Afghanistan. The 15,000 troops carried with them 38,000 camp followers including camels laden with raspberry jam, cigars, cricket bats and fox hunting dogs. One British officer alone brought sixty servants. The British claimed they were invading to contain Russian expansionism. The duel between Britain and Russia for the Indian Northwest that lasted until 1947 was nicknamed The Great Game. By 1841 this army would all die in the terrible Retreat from Kabul and its sole survivor would be one doctor who got lost from the main column. The British officer who coined the term the Great Game was beheaded by the Emir of Bokhara and thrown into a pit of reptiles.

1864- Sherman’s army reaches the sea at the Georgia coast near Savannah.

1877- Siege of Plevna ends. Russia and Austria force Turkey to grant independence to Serbia and Bosnia. Austria’s later efforts to swallow up Bosnia became the issue that sparked the Great War.

1869- Wyoming Territory grants women the vote, the nation follows 58 years later (California in 1911).

1898- Spain and the U.S. make peace ending the Spanish American War. Secretary of State John Hay who was once Abe Lincoln’s secretary called it “A Splendid Little War.” Critics Mark Twain and Ambrose Bierce called it the Yanko-Spanko War. The United States becomes a global power with colonies in Puerto Rico, Guam, Samoa, and the Philippines.

The Philippinos, who were fighting for independence under their leaders like Aquinaldo, suddenly discover they were now American property. The U.S. declared they fought for their freedom from Spain yet never officially recognized their national independence movements. The Philippines gained its full independence in 1946 and the last American base Subic Bay wasn’t removed until the 1990s.

1899- Battle of Magersfontein (more Boer-Woer). Our post-Apartheid opinion of white South Africans was not very high, but in 1899 most of Europe and America sympathized with their fight against the awesome might of the British Empire. The Queen of Holland begged the German Kaiser to help them (the Boers were ethnically Dutch-German). Crowds in Paris and Brussels would jeer the visiting Prince of Wales with the cry "Vive les Boers!"

1901- The First Nobel Prize is given. Alfred Nobel made millions by inventing dynamite and nitro-glycerine. But as much as his discoveries were used for constructive purposes they also made it possible for armies to blow each other up much more efficiently. He felt guilty and after an accident with the stuff killed his own brother. He resolved to create something positive from his fortune. Hence the Nobel Prize. Nobel died on Dec 10th 1896 and the awards are given each year on the anniversary. President Teddy Roosevelt won the first Peace Prize in 1910 for mediating an end to the Russo-Japanese War. President Obama is the third U.S. President to receive the Peace Prize.

1905- O. Henry’s short story “ A gift from the Magi” first published.

1915- President Woodrow Wilson married Edith Bolling Galt in a ceremony in the White House.

1938- To make the film "Gone With the Wind" Producer David Selznick and director Victor Fleming shot the massive "Burning of Atlanta" in Culver City, California. The sequence was storyboarded and designed by William Cameron-Menzies, who designed the sets for Intolerance for D.W. Griffith. Selznick used the opportunity to clean the studios backlot storage, destroying sets from King Kong, Little Lord Fauntelroy and Last of the Mohicans in the inferno. They shot the scenes with three Rhett Butler stand ins.

1941-The Hollywood Victory Committee formed. Top Hollywood agents like Abe Lastfogel, Lou Wasserman and Myron Selznick (David's brother) start signing up movie stars for bond drives and touring shows for the troops.

The committee later created the Hollywood Canteen, a nightclub for servicemen on Ivar near Sunset. A soldier or sailor could come in for a free meal served by Tyrone Power or Red Skelton and have a dance with celebrities like Rita Hayworth or Dina Shore.
One animation painter who worked in the kitchen told me the only celebrity who would stay until closing, even mopping and washing coffee cups was Marlene Deitrich.

1941-Japanese planes sink the battleships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse in just 90 minutes. The prized British Battleships had participated in the sinking of the German dreadnought Bismarck in the Atlantic a year earlier but had been transferred to the Pacific to boost the defenses of Singapore. The next day a lone Japanese plane dropped a wreath at the site of the sinking in tribute to the 884 British sailors who died there.

1941- A Japanese Army of 4,000 under General Homma landed on the Philippine Islands at Luzon and Vigan while a third force overran the U.S. outpost on Guam.

1941- The New York Metropolitan Opera announced that in light of the Pearl Harbor attack they were suspending any further performances of Madame Butterfly for the duration. Other opera companies also stopped doing Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado.

1942-OPERATION WINTERSTORM- General Von Manstein was ordered by Hitler to swing his panzers north and attempt to break through the Russian forces encircling the trapped German 6th Army at Stalingrad. But Von Manstein’s rescue mission was halted by Russian resistance and wintery conditions just 30 miles short of their goal. The 6th Army surrendered in February.

1948- The United Nations adopts Article XIX, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The committee, spending months drafting the resolution, was chaired by the Eleanor Roosevelt. By this act she debuted not just as a former first lady and widow of FDR but as a stateswoman and diplomat in her own right.

1949- After being defeated by Mao zse Tungs Communist PLA, Kuomintang Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek flew to Taiwan. Two and a half million ethnic Han Chinese evacuated to the island of Formosa-Taiwan, which continues today to call itself the ROC- The Republic of China. This ended the Chinese Civil War. Since 1924 China suffered 2 million deaths in it’s first civil war, 20 million in the Japanese invasion and World War II, and 5 million more killed in the final civil war.

1966- The Beach Boys “Good Vibrations” hit #1 in pop charts.

1967- R&B star Otis Redding and four of his band the Bar Kays were killed in a small plane crash near Madison Wisconsin. He was 26. Redding had recorded his hit “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” just three days earlier.

1974- Powerful Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Congressman Wilbur Mills resigned in disgrace after being busted by the DC police for getting drunk with a stripper named Fanne Fox and taking her for a 2:00 AM skinny dip in the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial. Fanne was later christened the “Tidal Basin Bombshell.”

1994- The Unabomber sent an explosive device that killed Thomas J. Mosser, an advertising executive at Young & Rubicam who handled the public relations spin for Exxon after the Exxon Valdez oil spill disaster.

2013 Richard Williams famed unfinished epic animated film the Thief and the Cobbler received it’s premiere at the Motion Picture Academy in Beverly Hills. It was begun in 1972.
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Yesterday’s Question: You all heard of DeSoto? He discovered DeSotoWater!’ (Groucho). No seriously, what did explorer Hernan DeSoto discover?

Answer: The Mississippi River. Mississippi is an Algonquin Indian word for The Father of the Waters.


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