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February 27th, 2011 sun
February 27th, 2011

Question: What do these people have in common? Mortimer Snerd, Charlie McCarthy, Jerry Mahoney and Kukla Tillstrom?

Yesterday’s question answered below: Remember Atari video games? What does the name Atari mean?
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History for 2/27/2011
Birthdays: Roman Emperor Constantine 280AD, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Steinbeck, Ralph Nader, Marion Anderson, Chelsea Clinton, Franchot Tone, William Demarest, James Worthy, Mirella Freni, Judge Hugo Black, David Sarnoff the founder of NBC network, Adam Baldwin, Arial Sharon, Joanne Woodward, Elizabeth Taylor is 79

In the ancient Roman calendar this was the festival of the First Equirra, the blessing of the horses of the Roman cavalry.

1776- The American Congressmen in Philadelphia received the news from overseas that the British Crown declared a halt to negotiations on American grievances. That all subjects living in His Majesties Colonies in North America who did not unconditionally surrender and renew their allegiance to their King, would be branded a traitor. That meant hanging. This must have weighed heavy on the American Congressmen’s minds when they voted on the Declaration of Independence.

1814- Beethoven’s 8th Symphony premiered.

1827- The first Mardi Gras celebration was held in New Orleans. Mardi Gras parties were first held by the French colonists of Mobile Alabama in 1709. From there the custom spread to the Big Easy.

1859-CONGRESSMAN COMMITS MURDER- While New York Representative Dan Sickles was being a Washington wheeler-dealer his lonely wife began an affair with the dashing son of Francis Scott Key, Phillip Barton Key. When Sickles found out he was horrified, even though he had cheated on her numerous times. This is the Victorian Era after all. Phillip Barton Key just then had the misfortune to be spotted passing by their house on Lafayette Square. Sickles in a rage grabbed a pistol and rushed after him, confronting him across the street from the White House: "Key, you Blackguard! You have dishonored my marriage bed and must die!" All Key could do was throw his opera glasses at him. Congressman Sickles then shot him dead.

Incredibly, Sickles was acquitted of murder by the first use of the ‘plea of temporary insanity’. His attorney was Edwin Stanton, Lincoln's secretary of war. Sickles and Stanton both were close friends of President Buchanan.

Dan Sickles went on to finish his term, become a Union General and fought at Gettysburg, won the Medal of Honor, lived to 93 and helped build New York’s Central Park. He even reconciled with Mrs. Sickles.

1860- Abraham Lincoln gave a speech at the Cooper Union Institute in New York declaring himself a potential candidate for President: " A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand." The elite New York audience at first snickered at the Illinois man’s high nasal Western twang, but they soon were inspired by his words. He received a standing ovation when he finished. That previous day he first posed for photographer Matthew Brady who made a famous photo that was copied and recopied around the country. Lincoln later said:" Brady and the Cooper Institute made me president."

1864- ANDERSONVILLE- The first Union prisoners arrive at the Andersonville Prison in Georgia. In the early parts of the Civil War the armies exchanged or paroled prisoners of war. But after the U.S. Army started enlisting Black soldiers, the Confederacy refused them equal status and declared they would treat them as slaves in rebellion. So Grant and Lincoln broke off the exchanging system.

As the crowd of captured Yankees grew into the thousands, the Confederacy placed them in open air camps exposed to the wind and cold. They drew a 'dead man's line drawn around the perimeter. Sharpshooters would shoot down any man fool enough to cross the line. Thousands died of starvation and exposure. The photos of the emaciated prisoners have a grim familiarity to photos of Holocaust survivors of the Twentieth Century. The North had it’s own equally bad prison camp for Southerners near Chicago.

After the Civil War the commander of Andersonville prison, a Swiss immigrant named Godfrey Wirtz, became the first officer executed for war crimes, and the first to say he was only following orders..

1881- The German Kaiser Wilhelm II married Augusta Victoria. They had a huge family and when Augusta died after World War One the elderly Kaiser remarried in exile.

1900- In Britain several Independent Labor Parties, Trade union and Fabian Societies form the British Labor Party under Ramsey MacDonald. After the Liberals fell apart over Irish autonomy Labor became the dominant alternative to the Tory Conservatives.

1908- Oklahoma statehood.

1914- Throughout his long life Teddy Roosevelt always reacted to bad news by a furious physical action. After losing his bid to return to the Presidency in 1912, Roosevelt responded by a trip down the most dangerous uncharted rivers of the Amazon jungle. Shooting the rapids on the 'River of Doubt" during the rainy season several of Roosevelt's party died and he developed malaria, dysentery and a dangerous leg abscess and almost died himself. They made it to safety on this day and the River was renamed the Rio Teodoro in his honor. When asked why a man his age (56) would attempt such a reckless adventure he replied: " I saw it was my last chance to be a boy."

1917-THE RUSSIAN REVOLUTION BEGAN- In St. Petersburg a general strike was festering since the 23rd. Today soldiers and police start to join demonstrators instead of arresting them. Shouts of :"Cossacks! Don't shoot your brothers! Enough of blood! We want Peace and Bread!" The law courts were torched, prisons opened and the protesters grab the Czar's Rolls Royce and drive it around town draped in red flags. Government officials start to flee the city. Czar Nicholas out at his military headquarters received the news that the nations capitol was no longer under his control.

1919- Gustav Holst’s orchestral piece The Planets, first premiered.

1932- The GLASS-STEAGALL ACT passed Congress. This act was a reaction to the Stock Market collapse of 1929. When banks collapsed from stock speculation they dragged down average citizens savings accounts who owned no stocks. Glass-Steagall ordered banks to either do private account banking or corporate banking and stock selling, but not both. The act caused the giant financial titans like J.P. Morgan and Lehman Brothers to break up and divest. The act was finally repealed by the 103rd conservative congress in 1995, finished off by the Graham Smith Bliley Act of 2000, and the U.S. economy collapsed as a result in 2008.

1933-The Reichstag Fire- The German parliament building was destroyed in a spectacular fire. The perpetrator was never found but a Dutch Communist named Marinus Van Der Lubbe was arrested. The incident enabled Hitler to force through legislation suspending civil liberties, trial by jury and ruling like a dictator.

1936- Women in Egypt get the right to vote.

1945- In the face of the advancing Allied armies, Hitler gives orders to the Gestapo to execute all remaining political prisoners. Included are all captured Allied spies, Dr. Goerdeler the mastermind of the General's July 20th Bomb Plot, and Christian Bishop Dietrich Bonhoeffer, author of "Letters and Papers from Prison" which became a religious classic.

1956- Elvis Presley released song Heartbreak Hotel.

1958- Columbia Pictures mogul Harry Cohn died of old age. His ruthlessness was legend in Hollywood. He once said " I don't get ulcers, I give them!" Hedda Hopper said:' You have to wait in line to hate him." The entire Columbia staff was ordered, not asked, to attend a memorial service. Looking at the large crowd around the coffin, Red Skelton quipped: "You see, give the people what they want and they'll show up."

1973- 200 members of the American Indian Movement led by Russell Means and Dennis Banks take over the Wounded Knee historical site. The hold it and attract world attention to the plight of the Native American before surrendering to the F.B.I. and Army in May.

1977- In Toronto the Canadian Mounties bust Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and his girlfriend Anita Pallenberg for heroin possession. The Stones agree to do two benefit concerts as punishment.

1991- President George Bush Sr. declared The Gulf War successfully completed, even though Saddam Hussein remained in power.

1991- The Mitchell Brothers were tops in the pornography business, producing blockbusters like Behind the Green Door and running the O’ Farrell Theater in San Francisco. This day after doing a lot of drugs, Jim Mitchell shot his brother Arnie to death with a rifle. The Mitchell Brothers Court case marked the first use of 3D computer animation as an illustrative scenario tool.

1994- Figure skater Nancy Kerrigan skips the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer so she could begin her multi-million dollar endorsements with DisneyWorld. She blows it all later when she’s caught on camera during a Disney parade saying: “This is all so corny. I can’t believe I’m doing this !”
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Yesterday’s Quiz: Remember Atari video games? What does the name Atari mean?

Answer: Atari was named for a term in the Japanese board game Go, similar to Check in Chess.


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