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April 14th, 2009 tues.
April 14th, 2009

Quiz: England has had Welsh Prime Ministers like Lloyd George, and Scots like Ramsay MacDonald. Has an Irishman ever been British Prime Minister?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: What is a Catch 22?
History for 4/14/2009
Birthdays: Sir John Gielgud, Papa Doc Duvalier- Haitian dictator 1907, Robert Doisneau, Rod Steiger, Loretta Lynn, Morton Sobotnick, Frank Serpico, Pete Rose, Julie Christie, Anthony Michael Hall, Steve Martin is 59, Sarah Michelle Geller is 32, Adrien Brody is 36.

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

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

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

1865- ABRAHAM LINCOLN ASSASSINATED-Actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth shot the President in the back of the head as he watched the play "Our American Cousin". Lincoln had seen the play several times and knew most of the lines by heart. Booth lept onto the stage and shouting something. It may have been” Sic Semper Tyrannus-And thus with Tyrants” the motto of the State of Virginia, or “The South is Avenged”. No one is sure. That same night Booths accomplice Lewis Paine, stabbed Secretary of State William Seward in his bed. When Seward’s son tried to stop him Paine broke his skull and ran out into the street shouting "I am Mad!" Another man named George Atzenrodt was supposed to kill the Vice President but he lost his nerve and did nothing.
In the box with the Lincolns were a Major Henry Rathbone and his fiance' Miss Clara Harris. Lincoln had asked General & Mrs. Grant to join them at first but the Grant's declined. Nellie Grant didn’t like Mary Lincoln. Anyhow, to Clara Harris this was a pretty lousy first date, watching the president get a bullet in the brain, her dress splattered with Major Rathbone's blood from being slashed by Booth and seeing Mrs. Lincoln go insane, but she married Rathbone anyway. Rathbone was never the same man. Ten years later while living as ambassador to the German city of Hanover Rathbone murdered Clara and was confined in an asylum for the criminally insane.

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

1883- Leopold Delibes’ opera Lakme premiered in Paris.

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

1912-RMS TITANIC SINKS- At 11:40PM The unsinkable luxury liner going too fast and 14 miles off course strikes an iceberg and goes down, taking millionaires and immigrants alike. As the stricken liner sank, the cruiser SS Californian watched a short distance away. They could have saved more people but their radio man had gone to bed and they thought the emergency flares lighting up the night sky were party skyrockets. No one was saved until the SS Carpathia arrived on the scene at dawn.
John Jacob Astor IV upon being told only women and children were allowed in the lifeboats went back and dressed in his smoking jacket and had some more champagne. Izadore Strauss, the creator of Macy's Dept. Store success, ordered his wife onto the lifeboat. She said "Izzy, I've not followed you everywhere for 40 years to separate now!" . She put her fur coat on the shoulders of her maid and they went down to their cabin. The heroism of the wealthy was admirable but it was still the Age of Privilege- the poor immigrant passengers were kept from the upper decks by locked gates. 1,500 drowned while half empty boats were lowered.
A strange fact is in 1898 a writer named Morgan Robertson wrote a novel called Futility, in which an 880 ft luxury liner sank on her maiden voyage in the month of April. The fictitious ship was named the Titan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

1960- The musical Bye Bye Birdie opened on Broadway.

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

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

1999-Former Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson stunned the male population of the world by announcing she had her breasts implants removed. She soon had them put back.

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

Yesterday’s Question: What is a Catch 22?

Answer: It comes from a 1961 novel by Joseph Heller ostensibly about bomber crews in World War Two, but in reality about the illogic of bureaucracy. For instance the novel’s hero Yousarian doesn't want to fly sorties through flak infested skies, but that proves he's sane, and the only way to get out of the assignment is to be crazy. In another situation the Captain of the squadron accepts money from the Germans to bomb his own airfield, because they don’t have enough planes, and if the German threat seems over, they might get reassigned somewhere else.

The phrase Catch-22 has come to mean a logical impossibility in a no-win situation.

Alan Arkin in the movie version of Catch -22