May 15, 2019
May 15th, 2019

Quiz: Who said, “Oh Death, where is thy sting…?”

Yesterday’s question answered below: What is the difference between a howdah and a hookah?
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History for 5/15/2019
Birthdays: Lyman Frank Baum, Claudio Monteverdi, Richard Avedon, James Mason, Joseph Cotten, George Brett, Jasper Johns, Anna Maria Alberghetti, Jean Renoir, Richard Daley Sr., Trini Lopez, Charles Lamont, director of Abbott & Costello Go to Mars, country singer Eddy Arnold, Chaz Palmintieri is 66, Lainie Kazan is 78, Joe Grant

The Mercuralia, the Roman Festival of Mercury, God of business, profit, and professional sports. Businessmen and athletes would go to the sacred well of Mercury on the Aventine Hill, and sprinkle sacred water on themselves to ensure good luck.

392A.D.- Roman Emperor Valentinian got so angry at a bunch of barbarians that he burst a blood vessel and fell over dead. Accession of Theodosius I.

756- Abdel Rahman I became Moorish Emir of Cordoba, Spain.

1248- Bishop Otto Von Hochstaden laid the cornerstone for the great DOM Cathedral of Cologne (Koln)

1577- The Orgy of Chenonceaux. Wild party at the French Royal Palace gardens with nude ladies cavorting with cross dressing knights and all such goings on.
Historians like Barbara Tuchman speculate that queen mother Catherine de Medicis threw this kind of party for her son King Henry III because the monarch showed no interest in his Queen, but hung around with his male courtiers, his "mignons"-darlings. She figured by placing scores of scantily clad damsels around the palace grounds perhaps the King would see that girls are fun too, and he should try some, and make some heirs to his throne.
If this was the reason for the party it didn't work. The king spent the evening trying on dresses, and there were no royal princes at the time of the king's death. This allowed the Bourbon dynasty to succeed. Most gay monarchs like Edward II of England understood that your personal tastes aside, still part of your job was to ensure the succession.

1602 - Cape Cod discovered by English navigator Bartholomew Gosnold.

1648- Treaty of Muenster- After 125 years of conflict Spain finally signs a peace that recognized the independence of Holland.

1703- Charles Perrault died. Perrault 1628-1703 was a retired minister to French King Louis XIV, who wrote stories for children under the title Mother Goose. He created Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Puss in Boots.

1776- The Continental Congress in Philadelphia voted that the American Colonies would refuse to obey any further orders from England and would from now govern themselves. Yet they still shrank from the obvious step of declaring independence.

1800-At a performance at London's Old Drury Lane Theatre, a man rose from the audience and fired two pistols at King George III. They both miss and the assassin was dragged off. Old King George not only insists that the show go on, but even dosed off during the second act.

1863- Edouard Manet first displayed his Dejeuner sur l’Herbe at the Salon des Refuses in Paris. The painting is of two modern clothed men having a picnic with two nude women by a river bank. The women aren’t mythical goddesses or muses but just bare, naked ladies. This shocked Paris society and Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugene called it “Immodest and obscene”. Its revolutionary simple subject matter heralded the rise of Impressionism.

1874- Mexican Bandito Turbico Vasquez hanged. His last words were “Pronto!” The wild hills north of Newhall California where he hid out are today named in his honor-Vasquez Rocks. They are the site of numerous film shoots like original Star Trek episodes.

1903- While on a tour of Yosemite, President Teddy Roosevelt slipped away from his entourage to camp out alone under the stars with naturalist John Muir.

1905- From a public auction of railroad land, the town of Las Vegas Nevada founded.

1917- During World War I, this day Germany tried offering Russia an immediate peace so she could concentrate on the Western Front before the Americans could arrive in force. The Russian Provisional Government of Alexander Kerensky refused. This was a key moment for history. Part of the reason parliamentary democracy was overthrown by the Communists under Lenin was Kerensky’s refusal to stop the war, which was very unpopular with the average Russian. If they had agreed, Russia might have been spared Lenin, Stalin. Purges and the Cold War. But World War I might have turned out differently.

1927- The Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel opened for business. Named in honor of Teddy Roosevelt.

1930- Miss Ellen Church became the first airline stewardess on a flight from San Francisco to Cheyenne Wyoming. Originally called SkyGirls, stewardesses had to be registered nurses in case of any health emergencies.

1935- Japanese Prime Minister Inokai was assassinated in his official residence by several young army officers because he tried to cut the military budget. Several top Japanese statesmen who tried to stop the military taking over the government wound up lying in the street full of bullets. Inokai was replaced as Prime Minister by Admiral Hokoku Saito. The war party now silenced all political opposition in Japan.

1935- The Moscow Subway system opens.

1940- Nazis panzer tanks pierce the French Maginot line near Sedan with little trouble.

1940- The first Nylon stockings go on sale in the US.

1941- Yankee centerfielder Joe DiMaggio had been in a dry spell hitting lately. This day he got a safe hit and began a hitting streak that ran for 56 straight games, an unparalleled feat. He became America’s most famous baseball player since Babe Ruth. He was variously nicknamed Joltin’Joe, the Yankee Clipper but his teammates called him affectionately the Big Dago.

1942- The U.S. initiated a program of wartime gas rationing. Slogans like “Is this Trip Really Necessary?” and a system of ratings vehicles with A, B & C cards pop up in a lot of gas stations for the duration. C meant a war-essential worker and you went to the head of the line to get gas. A cards was the lowest status.

1946- The first Tommy’s Burger stand opened in Los Angeles.

1947- Future President George Bush Sr. was initiated into the elite secret society at Yale University called Skull & Bones. It’s so named because initiates pledge to remain loyal until “I die and nothing remains but skull and bones.” His sponsor-Charles Whitehouse later became big in the CIA. So many Bonesmen went into the CIA that they nicknamed the agency,“ The Front Office.”

1948- The ISRAELI WAR OF INDEPENDENCE- The day after the State of Israel was proclaimed the Jewish State was attacked simultaneously by the armies of Iraq, Syria, TransJordan, Egypt and Lebanon. Egyptian planes bombed Tel Aviv and destroyed what Israeli airforce there was, leaving two Piper cub planes. Many Jewish fighters were veterans of WWII armies who were given guns and rushed into battle almost as soon as they stepped off their boats. The UN Mandate also called for the creation of a Palestinian homeland state but that seemed to be forgotten in all the fighting. Jordan and Syria both felt the territory of Palestine should be part of their country.

1949- Hungary voted in a communist government. Since the country was overrun with the Russian Red Army and there was only one candidate to check on the ballot, the result was hardly surprising. The Communist regime lasted until 1991.

1953- Rocky Marciano defeated Jersey Joe Walcott for the Heavyweight Championship.

1955- The Cuban dictator Fulgensio Batista ordered a partial freeing of political prisoners. One of those freed from prison was a young lawyer named Fidel Castro. Castro goes into exile but returns a year later with trained guerrillas to begin an insurgency.

1963 - Peter, Paul & Mary won their first Grammy for, “If I Had a Hammer”.

1967- Paul McCartney first met his first wife Linda Eastman.

1968 - Paul McCartney & John Lennon appear on the Johnny Carson Show to promote
Apple records, Joe Garagiola is substitute host.

1970- As at Kent State two weeks earlier, National Guard units again fire into a crowd of anti-war protesters. This time at Jackson State, Mississippi, slaying two students.

1970 – The Beatles' last album, "Let It Be," is released in US

1972- Alabama governor and rogue third party Presidential candidate George Wallace was shot five times by Arthur Bremer. Wallace survived but spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair in great pain.
An Ultra Conservative, Wallace always thought he’d be killed by some hippy black-panther liberal outraged by his extremist political views. But in the end he was shot by a lonely little loser who wanted his picture in the newspapers. Arthur Bremer had contemplated shooting President Nixon before he focused on Wallace. In all the excitement Bremer forgot to say the words he wanted to be quoted for on TV, ” Penny for your Thoughts…”.
The Nixon Whitehouse in their unique way immediately focused upon how they could turn this tragedy to their own political use. There was a scheme to plant George McGovern campaign material in Bremers’ apartment, but unfortunately for Tricky Dick’s people the FBI had already sealed it off.

1991- Socialist leader Edith Cresson became France’ first female Premier. She lasted only a year in office. For a nation renown for diplomacy, she said some pretty undiplomatic things- such as England was a nation of homosexuals, and when you negotiate with the Japanese, it is like ants crawling all over you.
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Yesterday’s Question: What is the difference between a howdah and a hookah?

Answer: A Howdah is the name of the compartment you ride in on an elephant’s back. A hookah is a water pipe that you smoke.


May 14, 2019
May 14th, 2019

Quiz: What is the difference between a howdah and a hookah?

Yesterday’s Quiz answered below: Who was Ernie Kovacs?
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History for 5/14/2019
Birthdays: Thomas Gainsborough, George Lucas is 75, Thomas Wedgewood, Francesca Annis, David Byrne, Jack Bruce, Bobby Darin, Tim Roth is 58, Robert Zemeckis is 68, Kate Blanchett is 50

Roman festival of the Avral Brethren, a ceremony where straw puppets are thrown into the river to bless Father Tiber. (perhaps it's an echo of a more primitive human sacrifice?)

1264-BATTLE OF LEWES- Rebel earls of Sussex and Simon de Monfort defeated and captured King Henry III and the Prince of Wales -Edward Longshanks. These barons compelled extensions to liberties that began with Magna Carta and created the House of Commons. The Prince eventually escaped and killed de Monfort and Sussex but could not stop the growth of representative house of commons.

1525 - Great German peasant revolt of Thomas of Munzer was crushed at The Battle of Bad Frankenhausen. Munzer was a devotee of reformer Martin Luther and he became a folk hero for trying to extend Luther’s concepts of spiritual freedom to political freedom. Martin Luther himself was horrified by the violence of the revolt and denounced it.
Finally a powerful coalition of the Elector Dukes of Hesse, Saxony and Brunswick raised a big army of knights and went city by city suppressing the revolt with great massacre. Munzers group was destroyed at Bad Frankenhausen. Thomas Munzer was ordered broken on the wheel and beheaded by the vengeful German nobles. So many common people were being put to the sword, that the Imperial Diet at Augsburg warned that if the nobles killed all their peasants, who would be left to do the work and pay taxes?

1667- The sailors of the English Navy were only paid once a month. During the Dutch Wars, an incident happened when after several months of hard fighting the loyal sailors were told that their fun loving King Charles II didn't have any money left in his treasury to pay them. This made them so angry, scores of them deserted to the enemy. They then guided Dutch Admiral De Ruyter's fleet right up the Thames where they could burn the docks of Greenwich, within sight of King Charles' palace.

1787- Shortly before returning to America, the Marquis de Lafayette wrote his friend George Washington about his sponsorship of the famous quack Dr. Anton Mesmer, for whom Mesmerism is known. "Before leaving I shall obtain permission to tell Dr Mesmer’s great secrets on Animal Magnetism to you, for it is a great philosophical discovery."

1787- George Washington arrives in Philadelphia to chair the great Convention to write the U.S. Constitution. Once there, he discovered that so only three states had even bothered to show up, and that included host Pennsylvania. There was a fear that if enough states could not be made to cooperate, a federal constitution imposed by a minority would break up the United States. To Washington’s relief by months end all the states except Rhode Island sent a delegation.

1796- English scientist Edward Jenner administered the first smallpox vaccination. This disease, which ravaged Europe for decades, was cured by the Chinese in the 600's B.C. Chinese doctors would ground up particles from a smallpox scab and blow it up your nose through a glass tube. After the pox decimated Native American tribes in the 1500's, by the 1770’s they did the same vaccination using a porcupine quill under the fingernail.
Small pox was the great killer of the age, Queen Elizabeth, George Washington and Robespierre almost died of the pox. The fashion of wigs and makeup became popular because it covered the facial scars and hair loss from the disease. Robespierre’s eyes were permanently weakened by the pox and he had to wear black painted spectacles.

1800- The Sixth US Congress voted to adjourn for the last time in Philadelphia and meet again in November in the new capitol city, already being called Washington City.

1800- Napoleon’s army began crossing the Alps into Italy via the Great Saint Bernard Pass.

1804- Lewis and Clark set out from St. Louis to find the Pacific. President Jefferson had told his aide Meriwether Lewis that there was a large river headed west from the Mississippi called the Missouri. Perhaps the large river that emptied in to the Pacific in Oregon called the Columbia was the same river? So you could travel by boat from New Orleans to Seattle? And if there was a little neck of land between the two rivers they were to measure the distance.
Later, 1200 miles into the high Rockies, eating candles to stay alive, they determined that the distance was much greater than previously thought. Pres. Jefferson had a fossil bone from a prehistoric sloth in his office. He told Lewis if he found a live one out there to send it back. Known as Paramylodon jeffersoni, remains of this animals have been found recently while digging the world's largest reservoir near Hemet, CA, and one specimen is known from the La Brea Tar Pits on Wilshire Blvd in downtown L.A.

1811- Paraguay declared independence from Spain.

1842 - 1st edition of London Illustrated News.

1860- The first delegation of diplomats from Japan arrived in the U.S bringing greetings from the Shogun.

1878- Vaseline petroleum jelly patented.

1940- Holland surrendered to the Nazis after Hitler threatened to bomb Amsterdam to rubble the way they did to Rotterdam.

1942- Nazi Stuka dive bombers began the attack on Malta.

1942- Walt Disney composer Frank Churchill, who wrote "Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf", shot himself at his piano at home.

1944- In the comic strip Dick Tracy, the longtime Tracy nemesis Flattop was killed.

1945- US bombers firebomb Nagoya Castle, built in 1612 by Tokugawa Ieyasu the Japanese Shogun as a gift for his son. The castle was reconstructed to its original form 1959-1978.

1948- Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy, the older sister to John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and Ted Kennedy, was killed in a plane crash. She was 28. She was married to the English Duke of Devonshire, and so was buried at their estate Chatsworth.

1948- THE STATE OF ISRAEL DECLARED- Since the Jewish Diaspora begun by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 162 AD Jews have wished for their own country. In 1897 European Jews called Zionists began building a homeland by encouraging mass immigration to the loosely governed Turkish province called Palestine. By World War Two there were two populations, Arab and Jewish Immigrants, both claiming the same territory. After years of sectarian fighting the British protectorate announced they would evacuate Palestine May 15th. The 5 surrounding Arab states announced they would invade if a Jewish State was declared- 45 million against barely one million. US ally King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia declared:" Even if we lose ten million to destroy the Jews, it will be a small sacrifice."
The UN was considering a further three month delay to debate the problem, when at 4:00PM Jewish Agency Premier David Ben Gurion walked into the crowd at the Tel Aviv Museum and declared the State of Israel. He did it at 4pm and the day before the mandate ran out, because it was Friday night, which is the Jewish Sabbath. During the Sabbath no Jews can sign anything or do any business, so he had to move it up.

1951 - Ernie Kovacs Show, TV Variety debut on NBC. Kovacs was a great pioneer in the video medium who loved creating surreal images and pantomime blackout skits.

1955- Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park Cal, today’s Silicon Valley, was founded by peace activist Roy Kepler. Keplers’ books was a hangout for Stanford computer scientists, Hippies, and creators of the Whole Earth Catalog. The Grateful Dead and Joan Baez played there, Prof Douglas Englebart the inventor of the computer mouse, would pop in for coffee, and kids like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak would ride their bikes over to check out the new computer books.

1973- Skylab, Americas first attempt at a space station, blasted off into orbit. In 1979 the remains of the 77 ton satellite re-entered the atmosphere, causing half the world to duck.

1974- The Maalot Massacre-On the anniversary of Israeli Independence Palestinian terrorists of the Al Fatah faction entered an Israeli school and shot 22 children.

1976- Keith Relf of the rock group the Yardbirds, was electrocuted while playing his guitar in his bathtub.

1968 - Beatles announce formation of Apple Records.

1989 – The funeral for a Communist Party reformer named Hu Yao Bang grew into massive Demonstrations for democratic reforms in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. For three weeks the attention of the world focused on the students demands for greater personal freedom. The movement was finally crushed by the Chinese Army in June.

1998 - Last episode of sitcom Seinfeld on NBC (commercial fees were $2M for 30 seconds) Elderly singer Frank Sinatra died shortly after watching it.
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Yesterday’s Quiz: Who was Ernie Kovacs?

Answer: Ernie Kovacs (1919-1962) was an early television pioneer, famous for his offbeat sense of humor and innovative surreal style. Using a plethora of camera tricks, non-sequiturs, audience participation, improvisation and blackout skits, Kovac’s audacious visual style and personality continues to be an inspiration for comedy nearly 60 years after his untimely death.


May 13, 2019
May 13th, 2019

Quiz: Who was Ernie Kovacs?

Yesterday’s Quiz answered below: Name the mid-twentieth century chanteuse whose signature was the song “I regret Nothing.” (Hint: little bird)
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History for 5/13/2019 Birthdays: St. Sergius of Radonez 1314, Sir Arthur Sullivan, Cyrus McCormick, Stevie Wonder, George Braque, Daphne DuMaurier, Joe Louis, Richie Valens, Gil Evans, Beatrice Arthur, Harvey Keitel is 78, Dennis Rodman, Clive Barnes, Burnett “Burny” Mattinson is 84, Steven Colbert is 54

In ancient Rome this was the Liberalia, Festival of the gods of the Grape- Liber and Liberia. As part of the fertility theme Romans waved little carved phalluses or wore them around their necks to parties. Putting a big carved penis in your garden was a sure way to make your flowers bloom. ……..Is Martha Stewart reading this?

1568- Battle of Langside- Mary Queen of Scots was forced to abdicate her throne in favor of her son James in 1565. She raised an army of Scottish Catholics to try and regain power but was defeated outside Glasgow by her son’s Protestant guardians. This battle forced her to flee to England and fall into the hands of Queen Elizabeth. Liz beheaded Mary in 1587.

1610- French King Henry IV Bourbon was stabbed to death by Ravaillac the mad monk. Catholic extremists were furious with him for ending the Religious Wars in France by granting freedom of worship to all. Ravaillac leapt up onto the running board of the King’s carriage and thrust at him with his knife through the carriage window. His Queen Marie De Medici, the fat lady Rubens painted so many triumphant pictures of, succeeded Henry.

1637-French Cardinal Richelieu threw a dinner where he introduced a novel invention. He had each place at the table set with a fork, a spoon and a table knife. For the first time guests didn't have to whip out their own blade to cut their food.

1655- A Rhode Island statute was passed granting freemanship with no pre-requirements regarding Christian worship. This first gave Jews and Dissenters the vote in the U.S., in fact, anywhere.

1794- Dolly Madison writes in her diary today that if she was ever to die, she would want her child raised by Aaron Burr (Vice President, two time presidential candidate, assassin of Alexander Hamilton). She was a 26 year old widowed mother at the time but according to both friend and foe she was a ravishing beauty. Much writing of the time criticized her immodestly low necklines and flirtatious demeanor around men. She knew most of the Founding Fathers and in four months would marry powerful senator James Madison author of the Bill of Rights and the original 40-year-old virgin. Ironically Burr introduced them to each other.

1809- After bombarding the city for a day, Vienna surrendered to Napoleon.

1846-THE U.S. DECLARED WAR ON MEXICO- The U.S had claimed the border of it’s new state of Texas was the Rio Grande, Mexico said it was the Rio Nueces. When American General Zachary Taylor was ordered to march his army into the disputed area and was attacked, the United States declared War. America won the Rio Grande line as well as the new states of California, New Mexico and Arizona, basically half the landmass of Mexico.
Just in case you thought political dissent began with Vietnam; Daniel Webster said this war was unworthy of America for it could not be disguised as other than a old world-style imperial land grab for the Pacific coast. Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln were anti-war congressman. Ulysses Grant said in his memoirs that the Civil War was God's punishment on the U.S. for attacking Mexico. Henry David Thoreau refused to pay his taxes and was fined, later writing his famous work On Civil Disobedience.

1851- the two leaders of the US Women’s Rights movement- Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady-Stanton met for the first time in Seneca Falls New York.

1910- James "Sugar Jim” Smith, the boss of the Essex County Democratic machine announced his candidate for the New Jersey governor’s race would be a tall, sour-puss Presbyterian professor named Woodrow Wilson, then President of Princeton University. Wilson had never run or held elective office and everyone thought they were out of their minds, until they heard him speak. Woodrow Wilson not only won the governorship but two years later became U.S. president.

1913- In Saint Petersburg Igor Sikorsky invented the first airplane toilet. Later he would move to the US and invent the helicopter. Without a toilet though.

1917- Three small children see the Virgin Mary in the town of Fatima in Portugal. All Catholics know about the story that the Madonna gave a letter to the Pope which was to be opened 50 years later which revealed secrets about the fate of mankind too horrible to say. Actually we all know, we’re just not saying.

1925- Tallahassee Florida ordered daily Bible readings in public schools.

1940-100 Nazis Heinkel 111 bombers began bombing the city of Rotterdam as an act of terror. This despite Rotterdam being declared an open city and negotiations under way for its surrender. The bombers destroyed the city in just several hours. At the same time
Queen Wilhelmina left The Hague for London as the Nazi tanks rolled in.

1950 - Diner's Club issued its first credit cards.

1956- Actor Montgomery Clift was disfigured in a car crash. He had to have his jaw wired until it could heal.

1957- THE MAIN BOUT- The McClellan Senate Committee was investigating organized crime inroads into the labor unions, but the "main bout" as it was then called was young prosecutor Robert Kennedy’s attempts to nail Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa. This day RFK tried a sting on Hoffa, arresting him at the Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington with $21,000 in kickback money handed him by an FBI plant.

Hoffa’s attorney portrayed the money as a misunderstood legal fee and when he noticed half the jury was black, Jimmy Hoffa had boxing champ Joe Louis flown in so they could see them embracing. Hoffa was acquitted in this trial but eventually convicted ten years later. When Bobby Kennedy was assassinated Hoffa ordered the flag over his office run back up to full staff and spent the day celebrating.

1965 - Rolling Stones record "Satisfaction"

1965- In a DC nightclub, the Ramsey Lewis Trio recorded live “ The In Crowd”, one of the last jazz singles to crossover and become a hit pop song.

1966 - Rolling Stones release "Paint it Black"

1971- The Black Panther 21’ trial- In 1969 the F.B.I. pre-dawn raided the headquarters of the militant Black Panther Party in New York. After a trial that took eighteen months the Panthers were acquitted on all charges after a jury deliberation of only 55 minutes. The case raised serious questions of the F.B.I.’s right to domestic infiltration and surveillance. Despite winning 96% of all the court cases brought against them, by 1975 most of the Black Panthers were dead or in exile. In later years Panther leader Bobby Seale owned a barbecue franchise in Philadelphia. Panther Eldridge Cleaver died a born-again Reagan-Republican.

1971 - Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane seriously injured in a car accident

1982- President Reagan says he's certain that our nuclear missiles could be recalled in case of an accidental firing. He didn't say how we'd catch them when they came back.

1981-Pope John Paul II shot by Turkish-Terrorist Mehmed Ali Agca. He survived and lived twenty more years. It’s never been proven but generally believed the hit on the Polish Pope was organized by the Soviet KGB through the Bulgarian secret service. Another source said the in 2001 the Vatican revealed that a prediction of the assassination attempt on the Pope was part of the secret message given by the Virgin Mary to three small Portuguese children at Fatima in 1917.

1992- Police arrest the manager of Comic Book Heaven in Sarasota Florida on seven counts of "displaying materiel harmful to minors", i.e. comic books.
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Yesterday’s Quiz answered below: Name the mid-twentieth century chanteuse whose signature was the song “I regret Nothing.” (Hint: little bird)

Answer: “Je’ ne Regrette Rien” by Edith Piaff (means little bird)


May 12, 2019
May 12th, 2019

Quiz: Name the mid-twentieth century chanteuse whose signature was the song “ I regret Nothing.” (Hint: little bird)

Yesterday’s Question Answered below: Okay, once and for all: is the spelled Grey or Gray?
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History for 5/12/2019
Birthdays: Dolly Madison, Dante Rossetti, Frank Stella, Florence Nightingale, Tom Snyder, George Carlin, Wilfred Hyde-White, Emilio Estevez, Ron Zeigler, Farley Mowat, Ving Rhames, Bruce Boxleitner, Katherine Hepburn, Yogi Berra

1463B.C.- THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON- Egyptian Pharoah Thutmoses III defeated a coalition of Canaanite princes at an outpost fort named Ha-Megiddo. This fort was the intersection of several trade roads that led south through the Lebanon Mountains into Palestine, so for centuries it was known for all the vicious battles and invasions that occurred there. When Saint John of Patmos wrote of the final battle in Book of the Apocalypse, he said it would be as terrible as one fought at Ha-Meggido or Armageddon.

1641- Thomas the Earl of Strafford was beheaded. In the rapidly deteriorating political climate between King Charles I of England and his Parliament, the Earl of Strafford advocated the king get tough with these rude peasants and rule dictatorially with an Irish army of occupation. So Parliament passed an act of attainment accusing the earl of treason and the terrified king signed it. Ironically the Earl was never tried for treason, he was 'legislated to death'. But the situation was deteriorating so rapidly even he petitioned the King to sign his death warrant to keep the peace. By June King and Parliament would declare the English Civil War.

1745- THE BATTLE OF FONTENOY- Britain and France fight (yet again) .this time the French under one-eyed illegitimate son of the King of Poland named Marshal De Saxe defeated British under the Duke of Cumberland who was the illegitimate son of King George II. Saxe was suffering from dropsy so he conducted the battle from a wicker chair. It was also the last time a King of France and Dauphin appeared on a battlefield.
As the British army approached the French line an English Guards officer Lord Charles Hay produced a silver flask and toasted the enemy, declaring ' Lay on gentleman of France! We never fire first!" His French counterpart the Comte d’Antroche bowed and said "No. After you please!" They would have kept bowing and curtseying all day until someone finally started shooting.

1775- During the American Revolution, a New York mob carrying clubs and torches broke onto the campus of King’s College determined to lynch president Miles Cooper, who was an outspoken loyalist. The mob was blocked on the steps of Cooper’s home by his student Alexander Hamilton. While Hamilton pleaded to spare him, Cooper watched from the second story window. Cooper was hard of hearing and he thought the Hamilton was the instigator of the mob. So while Hamilton begged the mob not to kill his professor, Cooper yelled down:” DON’T LISTEN TO HIM! HE’S A BLOCKHEAD!” Despite this curious strategy, Miles Cooper escaped unharmed and Kings College name was changed to Columbia University.

1776- France’s finance minister Turgot fell from power and resigned. Turgot tried to reform France’s almost medieval economy- While all the king could think of was to cut the budget for the Royal Lapdogs Turgot abolished outdated medieval tariffs, and subsidies to useless noblemen. He also began serious land reform. Many including Voltaire and Catherine the Great felt that if Turgot was allowed to be successful the French Revolution wouldn’t have happened. Frederick the Great agreed that “the Fall of Turgot presaged the collapse of France.”

1789- TAMANY HALL BORN- The first and oldest of U.S. political machines (clubs , pacts, lobbies, whatever ) Founded in Philadelphia and moved to New York it was named for a Chief Tamamend, the Delaware chief who welcomed William Penn. The Hall on 14 th street was nicknamed the Wigwam and the leaders called Sachems, the Algonquin word for chief.

Throughout the 1800's it was famous for buying and selling political offices, bribery and corruption. Boss Tweed and Slippery Dick Connolly, the first American to embezzle one million dollars, were Tamany Sachems. Tamany were the first to realize there was political power in mobilizing the mass of working class immigrants against the snooty New York power elite. Tamany Hall men would stand on docks welcoming immigrants with a voting card and a silver dollar to vote for their candidates. Another trick was for Tamany men to grow a full beard and vote, then go home, shave to a goatee, vote again, shave to a mustache, vote again, then clean shave and vote once more.

Tamany Hall was still influential into modern times. Bill O'Dwyer, a Tamany sachem was mayor of New York in the late 1940’s and in 1963 future Mayor Ed Koch became a congressman by unseating the last Tammany sachem Carmine DeSapio.

1796- Napoleon's French Army occupied the city of Venice and destroyed the last traces of the independent Venetian Republic 'La Serenissima" The Most Serene Republic. The Last Doge Daniele Manin was forced to abdicate, and his Byzantine crown and trappings of office were burned, along with his famous golden barge, the 'Boucintoro'. Venice, an independent city-state since 976AD was going to be part of Italy, whether she liked it or not!

1797- The Peace of Leoben- Napoleon forced a peace treaty on Austria by menacing Vienna. He went in French eyes from a popular general to a national figure. At one point when frustrated with negotiating with the Austrian diplomats he smashed a china tea set to the floor and shouted “ If you don’t submit to my terms I will break your empire like so much old crockery!” With this treaty France gets it’s first real peace since the Revolution started in 1789.

1809- Napoleon’s heavy cannon- called Napoleon’s Daughters- began bombarding the Austrian capitol Vienna. Beethoven hid in a cellar. A cannonball fell near composer Franz Josef Haydn’s house but the octogenarian composer comforted his friends:” Children don’t be frightened; Where Papa Haydn is, no harm can come to you.” When the city was occupied the French officer in charge of the guard on Haydn’s house comforted the old composer by singing an aria from his oratorio The Creation.

1812- Czar Alexander signed a peace treaty with Turkey in order to free up troops to face Napoleon’s pending invasion. Napoleon encouraged the Sultan to declare a jihad on Russia and promised him Moldova and other lost Balkan provinces. But the Sultan knew a con job when he heard one and wouldn’t take the bait.

1846- The Donner Party wagon train left Independence Missouri to start its trek out west to California. They tried a new short cut proposed by a charlatan named Lansford Hastings to get to California. They crossing the burning alkaline deserts of Utah and were attacked by Paiute Indians. By Halloween heavy snow storms stranded the Donners in the High Sierra Mountains where the starving survivors resorted to cannibalism.

1864-BATTLE OF SPOTSYLVANIA- After Lee whips Grant in the Wilderness, instead of retreating Grant wheels around and attacks again. This time winning a draw. The fighting was dreadful, reports of trees so thick you couldn't put your arms around cut down by bullets, and men hit with so many 68 cal. musket balls at one time that their bodies literally would fall apart.
At the fight in the center of the line called The Angle Yankees and Confederates crowded in so tightly they pressed against one another like a massive rugby game. Soldiers fought hand to hand with pistol butts, flag staffs, clubs, fists, some even took their empty bayonet muskets and hurled them into the crowd like a spear. Nothing failed to cause injury.

One casualty was union general "Uncle John" Sedgewick, shot by rebel snipers. His last words were:" Aw go on men! Them rebs couldn't hit an elephant at this dis......."

1881- Tunisia was made a colonial protectorate of France.

1915- THE BRYCE COMISSION- An English commission to study reports of German atrocities that was really a propaganda machine aimed at getting the United States into the Great War. America had the problem that if she chose the allied side in World War One, several million immigrant citizens of German, Hungarian and Austrian descent were sympathetic to the Kaiser. Add to them millions of English-hating Irish Americans, Jewish Americans who wanted the openly Anti-Semitic Russian Czar beaten, and many average Americans who felt the main reason their forefathers crossed the ocean was to get away from the kind of trouble that occurred back in Europe.

So you can see it was hard to get everyone up for intervention. The American yellow press printed all the British accounts without ever questioning their accuracy- they horrified the average reader with hair-raising stories of German troops raping and killing Belgian women, chopping the hands off of children and crucifying Canadian prisoners with bayonets through their hands and feet. Even though some atrocities stories were verified, like the needless burning of the medieval Library of Louvain -The German term was Shreiklichkeit- Rule by Fear- today it is acknowledged that most of these accounts were ginned up to get us to Hate the Hun!

Later the U.S. Office of War Information took over feeding these stories to the press. It was headed by a psychiatrist Edmund Bernays, a psychoanalyst nephew of Sigmund Freud. After the war he went into advertising.

1934- Hungarian scientist Dr Leo Szilard took out a secret patent on his concept of a chain reaction, being able to theoretically release energy from uranium on an atomic level. Enrico Fermi proved this and created the first controlled chain reaction in 1939.

1935- In Akron Ohio, in a cottage at the edge of a great estate, a conversation took place between two men, Akron surgeon Dr. Bob S. and New York stockbroker Bill W., that would create the organization Alcoholics Anonymous.

1936- John Maynard Keynes most famous work "the General Theory of Money, Interest and Work" was published. Today if a politician advocates government control in the business market, he is called a "Keynesian". Keynes once said: ' My only regret in life is that I did not drink more champagne."

1937-After the abdication of Edward VIII to marry Mrs. Simpson, his brother Bertie was crowned today as King George VI at Westminster. King George and Queen Elizabeth were the parents of the current Queen and were the first English monarchs to ever travel to America and eat hot dogs.

1938- “The Adventures of Robin Hood” starring Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone, Olivia DeHaviland, Claude Rains and Eugene Paulette premiered. The swashbuckling film then cost a whopping $2 million dollars to make! The light brown horse Maid Marion rode in the movie was later bought by singing cowboy Roy Rogers and renamed Trigger.

1940-Despite being neutral, Switzerland mobilized it’s tiny army in anticipation of a Nazi invasion.

1943- Penned in at Tunis by English and American armies, Rommel's Nazi Afrika Korps laid down their arms. Rommel himself was hospitalized in Germany with diphtheria and would fight again. Besides desert and snows of Norway the Germans were so sure they would be active in all climates that after the war the allies found warehouses full of Tropical uniforms for action in some future African equatorial jungle.

1945- Reischmarshall Herman Goring drove to an American air base and surrendered himself and his family to USAAF commander General Spaatz. The former fighter pilot said he wanted to surrender to a fellow airman. Spaatz was later reprimanded for being photographed toasting and celebrating the end of the war with Goring.

1948- In Palestine, the secret key cabinet meeting of Jewish leaders over whether to declare independence before the British evacuated on May 15th. Even the US was asking for a UN sponsored three month cooling off period. But Jewish leaders like David Ben Gurion felt any more delay would be fatal. They would declare independence on May 14th. The last problem was what to call their new country? After Zion, Zionia and Herzelania was suggested, they decided to go with the name of a local kibbutz using an ancient Biblical name- Eretz-Israel, or simply Israel.

1949- THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF WEST GERMANY BORN- Seventy German politicians free of a Nazi past meet in a schoolroom and create Germany's first ever democratic constitution. The Allied Military Governor General Lucius Clay announced he would close his office and return to America. In 1989, The Federal Republic or West Germany, reunited with the Democratic Republic, aka East Germany.

1962- First day shooting on Frederigo Fellini’s film 8 1/2. When screened for American Producer Joe Levine, Levine took the cigar from his mouth and growled-” Frederigo, what da hell did that movie mean? ” Fellini shrugged –“I dunno”.

1963- Folksinger Bob Dylan walked out of a taping on the Ed Sullivan Show. He objected to CBS censors wanting to cut his number making fun of extra Right-Wing extremists like the John Birch Society.

1971 - Rolling Stone Mick Jagger weds Bianca Macias at St Tropez Town Hall.
They later divorced and Bianca became a famous habitue’ of trendy discos and fashion magazines.

1971- Tor Johnson died of a heart attack at age 68. Swedish wrestler turned actor, Tor’s preferred role was the bald eyeless zombie in classics like Plan Nine from Outer Space and Bride of the Monster.

1977- A small Westchester radio station WENW hired a thin, gawky, college grad as a DJ- Howard Stern. US radio would never be the same.

1982- The comic strip 'Marvin' debuted.

1985- Philadelphia Police were trying to break into the headquarters of a militant anarchist group called MOVE. They were barricaded in a row house. Someone had the bright idea of dropping a bomb on the building. The explosion and fire killed 11 including some children and set off a conflagration that engulfed the neighborhood. Some people remember it as noteworthy in that it was the first time an air strike was used on an American city by American authorities

1999- The First Scottish Parliament in three hundred years and the first Welsh assembly since Owen Glendower in 1410 sat in session today.

2008- A powerful earthquake hit Chungdu in Sichuan Province in China, killing tens of thousands.
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Yesterday’s Question: Okay, once and for all: is the spelled Grey or Gray?

Answer: They are both correct spellings of the color (colour) range between white and black; the difference being only in the spelling used in America (especially the U.S.) or England. Generally, “gray" is the American spelling whilst “grey" is the British version. (A good mnemonic devise is that “gray" is the American and “grey" is the English spelling.) (thanks FG)


May 11, 2019 Sat
May 11th, 2019

Question: Okay, once and for all: is the spelled Grey or Gray?

Yesterday’s Quiz answered below: What American publication was nicknamed The Grey Lady?
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History for 5/11/2019
Birthdays: Salvador Dali', Jean Jerome, Chang and Eng Bunker-the original Siamese Twins-1811, Baron Munchausen, Irving Berlin, King Oliver, Martha Graham, Dr. Richard Fenyman, Mort Sahl, Foster Brooks, Denver Pyle, Henry Morgenthau, Doug McClure, Randy Quaid, Natasha Richardson, Rev Louis Farrakhan, Albert Hurter, Margaret Kerry the model for Walt Disney’s Tinkerbell

330 A.D. Constantine the Great founded his city of New Rome, called Constantinople on the site of an older Greek city called Byzantium. The Russians call it Tsargrad, the Turks Istanbul or "The City”.

1189- German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa (red-beard) led 100,000 German Crusaders out of Regensburg towards the Holyland. Two thirds of them never came home, including Frederick.

1780- A RUDE SHOCK TO THE INDEPENDENCE OF AMERICA. That was how it was described by a Tory minister back in London, when the British Army captured the last major American seaport- Charleston, South Carolina. George Washington’s best lieutenant, General Lincoln, and 2,500 troops laid down their arms, it is the largest surrender of Americans in the Revolutionary War. At one time during the Revolution all of the largest US cities: Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Charleston were under British occupation.
The capture of Charleston also wiped out what there was of the little U.S. Navy.
At this time, John Paul Jones was still sitting on a beach waiting for a new ship.

Up till then the British strategy had been to wait out the bankrupt Yankees and concentrate on fighting the French and Spaniards in the Caribbean. George Washington recognized this strategy was working, since Congress was broke and his unpaid army was on the verge of mutiny. But their victory at Charleston encouraged the British to deviate from their plan and commit new armies to conquer America from the South. That decision led to the great British defeat at Yorktown.

1792- Captain Robert Gray discovered the Columbia River in the Oregon territory.

1812- A British merchant named Bellingham who's business was ruined by the Napoleonic wars, walked into the lobby of the House of Commons, and shot Prime Minister Sir Spencer Percival. He was the only British Prime Minister ever assassinated.

1831- French writer Alexis De Tocqueville visited the United States.

1858- Minnesota became a state.

1862- When their navy base was overrun by US Troops the Confederates had to blow up their ironclad warship the CSS Virginia, also called the Merrimac.

1864- JEB STUART FELL- Confederate commander of cavalry Jeb Stuart was a Beau-Sabeur who always rode into the thickest of a fight. This day one soldier shouted:” General, you must love bullets!” Stuart replied:” I don’t love bullets, but I can’t hide from them. I got a feeling I’m not going to survive this war.” Then he rode into battle with Sheridan’s cavalry at Yellow Tavern six miles north of Richmond.

A dismounted Yankee marksman spotted the familiar gray horseman with the black plumed hat and cape. As he rode by he emptied his carbine into him. Gutshot, Stuart still managed to ride a mile to the rear before falling insensible from his horse. He died shortly afterwards. He was 31.

1878-Young anarchist Erik Hymdel tries unsuccessfully to assassinate Kaiser Wilhelm. People today fear ISIS, but in the "Gilded Age" it was the Anarchists- the stereotypical men in long black coats with smoldering round black bombs. They believed that society itself was the problem, and if it could be broken down, only then would everyone be truly free.

1894- The workers of the Pullman Railroad Car Company went on strike led by young crusading attorney Eugene V. Debs.

1927- Polar explorers Roald Amundsen, Michael Ellsworth and General Nobile fly over the North Pole in a dirigible called the Norge. They were preceded by several days by Commander Robert Byrd and Floyd Bennett in a fixed wing Fokker aeroplane. Norwegian Roald Ammundsen had already conquered the South Pole but on this flight he felt useless. He was offended when General Nobile celebrated in Fascist Italian jackbooted, Seig-Heiling style when they got back.

1943- US troops storm Attu island in the Aleutians. Japanese troops had occupied the Alaskan Aleutian archipelago in 1942 to draw attention from the fleet attack at Midway. It was the only US soil under enemy occupation in World War II. The US forces were the Special Forces/10th Mountain Battalion once known as Darbys Rangers who fought in Italy. Their commander Col Darby was killed two days before the Nazi surrender in Europe.

1945-After Nazi Germany surrendered, the Nazi-collaborator governor of occupied Norway, Josef Treboven, committed suicide by sitting on a stick of dynamite. When Wile E. Coyote does it, its funny. But Norwegian Nazis? Pretty messy.

1946- The first CARE package sent.

1948- After World War II, the cooperation between U.S. unions and management disappeared and the nation was paralyzed by nationwide steel and railroad strikes. President Truman, who had praised the labor cooperation the year before reacted by this day ordering the military to seize the railroads and run them and draft into the navy any strikers who object.

1956 - Pinky Lee Show last airs on NBC-TV.

1968 - actor Richard Harris attempted a singing career, releasing the song "MacArthur Park".

1968- The Vietnamese give up their siege of the Marine firebase at Que Sanh. The siege had lasted since January.

1969- In Vietnam the 101st Airborne and South Vietnamese forces began their assault on Hamburger Hill. Originally called the Ap Bia mountain, it was nicknamed Hamburger because of the meat grinder loss of human life to capture it. It was taken May 20th with the 11th assault.

1972 -On the Dick Cavett talk show Beatle and peace activist John Lennon said his phone had been tapped by FBI. It turns out it he was, but at the time we all thought he was just paranoid from too many drugs.

1981- The musical play CATS opened in London.

1981- Bob Marley died of brain cancer at age 36. Marley and his group the Wailers, made Jamaican Reggae mainstream in pop music.

1992 - Carlos “ Danny” Herrera, bartender inventor of the Margarita, died at age 90- Margarita was supposedly invented in 1938 for Hollywood actress Margaret Sullivan who wanted to drink tequila and lime with the guys but couldn’t tolerate the strong taste. Herrera mixed the tequila and lime juice into an iced cocktail and put the salt along the rim. He mixed a batch whenever he heard the actress was in Tijuana, writing on the bottle- For Margaret- Por Margarita.

1992- Elizabeth McDonald, inventor of the detergent cleanser Spic & Span, died at 98.
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Yesterday’s Question: What American publication was nicknamed The Grey Lady?

Answer: The New York Times.


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